White sent packing, Davis advances to 'DWTS' finalEliminated ice dancer calls time on show 'an amazing learning experience'
Season 18 of Dancing with the Stars will not end the way many skating fans anticipated -- with Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White and their respective dance partners facing off for the coveted mirror ball trophy. The semifinal was the end of the road for White and Sharna Burgess, who went out in style with an exquisite foxtrot.
"In foxtrot, we're looking for a smooth torpedo," said ballroom dancer Julian Tocker, a past member of the DWTS troupe and co-host on AfterBuzz TV's recap show. "It needs to be smooth sailing."
That is exactly what White and Burgess brought in their dance to "New York, New York," which even included a virtuoso solo for White at the end. Guest judge Kenny Ortega called the dance "indescribably delightful." The judges gave it four 10s.
"The whole thing flowed so nicely, and it was one of those dances that was fun to do from start to finish," White said. "How much we enjoyed it came across in the dance."
Their hip-hop infused samba was performed to a track from the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. Judge Len Goodman told White, "You deserve to be in the final;" the dance received four 9's.
It's been an exhausting few weeks for White -- with DWTS rehearsals, the live show Monday nights and Stars on Ice shows mixed in -- but he has no complaints.
"It's been an amazing cap to a wonderful season," he said. "Going from the Olympics to DWTS, we didn't have a moment to rest, but it was the best way to do it. Right from the get-go, it was an amazing learning experience.
"Obviously, I'm upset that we couldn't dance in the finale ... but I definitely feel very grateful for everything I did get to experience."
White said he was appreciative that Burgess did not hold back choreographically despite his grueling schedule. Through her, he was able to gain a deep understanding of the origins of many dances he and Davis have interpreted on ice over the years.
"We certainly feel we're masters of our craft, and yet there's this whole other layer. Getting to work on that and discover new things was a pleasure," White said. "We definitely have fresh perspective on so many different things, from the way you partner to the steps you have in your repertoire."
Burgess said beyond teaching and choreographing, she has enjoyed dancing with White.
"The bar is set higher, and there were very high expectations for someone like Charlie," Burgess said. "I had a lot of pressure on myself to create those amazing routines, to make it difficult enough for him and to give him the great technique on top of it. I didn't go easy on him, and I didn't take it easy on myself. I was constantly going back and looking at my work and making sure it was worthy of something that he would do.
"I wanted him to go out on the floor every Monday and do the absolute best routines that he could possibly have molded on him," she added. "I feel like we achieved that week to week."
Davis and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy were declared in jeopardy and were standing alongside White and Burgess when the elimination was called, but it's doubtful they were in the bottom two. The duo earned 80 points for the night, which means the judges saw them as nothing short of perfect.
Tocker said he hoped Chmerkovskiy would create a story to go with the jive, and he did by adeptly portraying Elvis Presley. Their Viennese Waltz was performed to country music.
"It needs to be flowing effortlessly," Tocker said. The judges' comments reflected that they had captured the moment.
Davis and Chmerkovskiy advance to next week's two-night finale with Amy Purdy and Derek Hough, Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas, and James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd.
"For the last two weeks, I really haven't had any time to do anything except travel, skate and dance -- maybe a little sleep," White said. "That's very foreign to me. I always took the necessary down time to relax and recharge. That wasn't an option, so I'm really proud of the way we were able to come out and perform every Monday."
Her partnership with White left a lasting impression on Burgess.
"I was able to get lost in the performances and enjoy the moment," said Burgess, who hopes she'll get to work with Davis and White and other ice dancers on skating choreography in the future. "It's definitely a shame it ended one week shy of that final."