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J.R. Martinez: Week 9

By DANIELLE L. KIRACOFE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 22, 2011

Week 9

The semifinals of “Dancing with the Stars” wasn't a good night for Army veteran and actor J.R. Martinez, who ended up in third place when the night was over. Not only did each have to perform three times during the two-hour show, but Martinez did it on a painful, twisted ankle.

There are just four competitors left: Martinez, soccer star Hope Solo, reality star Rob Kardashian and TV personality Ricki Lake.

Martinez's first dance was a paso doble. The video clip before this dance showed him talking about all three of the programs and how he's particularly worried about the lift required in the second dance, the Argentine tango. “If I mess it up, it could be something that could really harm our chances,” he said. But it's the injury to his ankle, caught on tape, that might have really endangered his chance of making it to next week's finals.

He and his professional partner Karina Smirnoff performed the paso doble to music from the movie “The Mask of Zorro.” He's dressed as Zorro, and Smirnoff is wearing a white skirt. Martinez doesn't smile through much of the dance. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, but I noted that his footwork wasn’t as crisp as usual. Martinez admits to Tom Bergeron that he twisted the ankle again during the dance.

From the judges

Bruno Tonioli: “I could feel the thrill and excitement of the chase. The role play was great. Dressed up, ready to kill. Very, very good.” However, he felt the posture wasn’t there. His score: 8.

Carrie Ann Inaba: “I felt like your posture really suffered [from the ankle]. And there were a few moments of uncertain pauses.” Her score: 8.

Len Goodman: “Certain dances suit you, certain dances don't. And for me, this dance didn’t suit you at all. ... It was more zero than Zorro. ... You’re too hunched over.” His score: 7.

Afterwards, J.R. said: "This is the point where champions step up ... and I have two more dances and I can redeem myself."

Next up: the Argentine tango. This time, all four couples will be performing the same dance in an effort to compare them. But to me, that doesn't make any sense unless they're all using the same choreography and music, which they don't. Goodman described the Argentine tango as a dance a husband does with his girlfriend. I expect so little out of Len now that I’ve seen him nearly in the buff last week on one of last week’s DanceCenter clips.

Before the Argentine tango, they showed videos about each of the competitor’s lives. Martinez’s video is much of what we’ve seen before. He was born in Louisiana and raised by a single mother. His mom taught him that he should just smile no matter what you’re going through, because you don’t know how that smile might change you or someone else. He said he didn't really understand that, but it stuck with him. We also heard from his mom, and a veteran who was in the Humvee with Martinez during the accident in Iraq.
Several of his “All My Children” co-stars also spoke about him as well, including Bobbie Eakes, Susan Lucci and Cameron Mathinson. “Even though he's never acted before, he's never danced before, either," Eakes said. "But you would never know it.”

“Every challenge that I've faced in my life, I've always kind of found ways to be positive," Martinez said at the end of the segment. "Positivity is definitely my secret to success.”
Martinez -- wearing a smashing teal-colored velvet tux -- and Smirnoff performed their tango to “Bust the Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan. From his expression, you can tell he’s disappointed when the tango is over. I thought it was beautiful, passionate and you couldn't tell that his ankle still hurt. He admitted his ankle still hurts.

From the judges

Tonioli: “You were in Latin lover mode. Strong and fearless.” His score: 9.

Inaba: "When you were dancing, it was like there was a true fire connecting you." Her score: 9.

Goodman: “It had mood, it had intensity, I was transported to the back streets of Buenos Aires. The lady of the night and the gaucho.” His score: 9.

The third and final dance was a cha-cha relay. Each team will dance to the same song in sequence. “You’re really going to have to stand out because you’re going to be alongside everyone else,” Martinez said. They danced to Enrique Iglesias’ “I Like How It Feels.” There are four possible scores -- 10, 8, 6 & 4.

They drew last week to get their order: Ricki Lake, Hope Solo, Martinez and Rob Kardashian. They couples didn't dance long. Martinez hid his pain well, but I wondered why he was saddled with a wardrobe that required him to push his sleeves up during the performance. And I missed his smile. When the song was done, Martinez earned a 6, and putting him in third place with a score of 56. In fourth place overall is Hope Solo; in second place is Rob Kardashian; and in first place for the evening is Ricki Lake.

I hope Martinez's positivity keeps him on the show until the finals and sees him through this ankle injury.

Update

J.R. Martinez is going to the "Dancing with the Stars" finals!

The Army veteran and actor was in the bottom two on the reality competition show on Tuesday, along with soccer star Hope Solo. This was his first time in the bottom two.

But his scores and votes kept him on the show, which will have its finale next week.

Solo was sent home last night.

Martinez said on Twitter earlier today: "Despite not performing at my fullest potential this past Monday. I THANK all of you for voting us thru to the #finals It's time to turn it up."

Next week is the final week of the season. In the U.S., the final competition airs Nov. 21, and the finale is Nov. 22. Martinez will compete against TV personality Ricki Lake and reality star Rob Kardashian.
Follow Martinez on Twitter @knowjr. Follow Danielle L. Kiracofe on Twitter @dorogaya26 and e-mail her at kiracofed@stripes.osd.mil

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