WITNEY CARSON, VANILLA ICE

WITNEY CARSON, VANILLA ICE

Eric McCandless/ABC

Vanilla Ice and partner Witney Carson brought up the rear during introductions on Dancing With the Stars on Monday night. 

And they stayed in those environs after dancing a Viennese Waltz inspired by the Cirque du Soleil show La Nouba

Tickets on sale for 'Dancing With the Stars'-Live! tour at Verizon Theatre on Feb. 8

It's understandable: Vanilla Ice, who grew up Rob Van Winkle in North Texas, flew back in on the day of the show after performing five shows in five nights. He said learning the steps was like calculus and though he was tired, "I don't need no violins."

"I feel like every day is a survival from elimination for me," he said.

He's not wrong: He started the night at the bottom of the leaderboard and probably did just enough to move out of that spot, getting his best score yet with a 23 out of 30. Vanilla Ice was resigned: "We gon' ride with it."

Judge Julianne Hough said "the theme worked in your favor. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba graded on a curve, saying she thought he brought his "A game," which doesn't bode well for the rest of his time. Bruno Tonioli warned that he needed to be careful "not to turn into Edward Scissorhands." (Coach Len Goodman is judging at "the mothership" for a couple of weeks, the BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.)

On the flip side, there was Laurie Hernandez and partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

Hernandez had been on tour with her golden Olympic gymnast teammates in Washington, D.C. She also met with President Barack Obama. She learned a lot of her choreography by video, much to her partner's surprise. What did she get for her troubles? The first perfect score of the competition.

Judge Bruno Tonioli, in his usual hyperbolic way, declared that "it was like watching Debbie Allen, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul all combined." But the other judges didn't demur and it was 10s across the board.

Co-host Erin Andrews was -- thankfully -- back. Tonioli explained early on that with the series' first Cirque du Soleil night that judges were looking to be "transported."

So were the dancers. Tuesday night's show will be a double elimination. It will air at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Calvin Johnson Jr.

The retired NFL player started the night at the top of the leaderboard and didn't disappoint with his cha cha.

Julianne: "Well, hello, Twinkle toes." Bruno called him "a Marvel Agent of Fun." Heh. 23/30

Maureen McCormick

"The honeymoon's over" as she and partner Artem got into a bit of a spat. It may have been a tactic to turn her into "a 1920s movie queen," as Tonioli called her. They danced an Argentine Tango, inspired by Cirque du Soleil Mystere. He also called her Gloria Desmond. 24/30

Jana Kramer

She had an eventful week, too. She went to Vegas to see the show to which she would be referencing, and played some shows herself. They danced a foxtrot to "Here Comes the Sun" from Cirque du Soleil: The Beatles Love. While Bruno was still bathing in the afterglow, Julianne Hough said, "I really want you guys to break out of the middle." 25/30

(Wait. What? Andrews is going to be a backup singer for Jana? Tell me more.)

Marilu Henner

She and partner Derek Hough danced a paso doble inspired by Cirque du Soleil's Ka. They employed flag bearers, shooting fire, what can only be described as wheels of death and Derek's warmonger makeup. Julianned: "Talk about using the whole stage." Bruno: "When you're left alone on the stage, somehow the energy drops." 21/40

Amber Rose

Whew! Her Argentine tango was inspired by Cirque's Zumanity -- and what she thought was a snippy comment from judge Hough last week in which Hough said Rose's dance made her uncomfortable. So ... she embraced her sexuality. And so did everyone else. The camera had to fade out at the end as she and Maks Chmerkovskiy made good on his promise to make it "too hot for TV." Julianne, stepping out of the shade: "This is your true essence." 24/30

Ryan Lochte

In a Viennese waltz inspired by Cirque's O, the Olympic swimmer got to train in the pool with the synchronized swimmers from the show. Carrie Ann: "I definitely saw improvement." Someone yelled something and Bruno just talked right over it: "Forget that. Just listen to me." S/N: Lochte was dressed like Two Face, sure to show up soonish on a show I wish I was watching live: Gotham22/30

Babyface

It all fell apart just a minute in when Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds seemed to forget where he was. In another nod to The Beatles Love, they danced a tango to "Come Together." He knew: "It went completely away." We knew. Julianne knew, too: "Yes." The other judges did not disagree. 18/30

Terra Jole

Terra Jole was excited by the night's possibilities: "On a scale of 1 to 10, this is probably a 50." No, it's not. She danced the samba, assisted by shooting flames and inspired by Cirque's O. Bruno: "Terra, you light my fire. She was going like a mental woman." It was a compliment; Carrie Ann gave her the first 9 of the season. 25/30

And then there was Laurie Hernandez.

The inspiration was Michael Jackson One. The assist came from extra dancers, a bench and a car. Laurie said she went as Michael Jackson for at least three Halloweens, so she was excited. So was Val, who thanked the Jackson family for approving the use of "The Way You Make Me Feel." So were the judges: straight 10s and straight exuberance, no chaser. 30/30

James Hinchcliffe

The Indycar driver actually attended his Cirque show with his partner. They went to see Cirque's first Broadway production, Paramour. Carrie Ann said it was "an incredible way to end the most magical night of the season." Hinchcliffe can't explain why he's such a surprise: "I sit for a living." 28/30

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