“Our thoughts are with everyone in Boston tonight,” host Tom Bergeron said at the beginning of the episode. “I have family members and many friends there. My heart is with you.”
The night’s competition included the return of four former pro dancers on the show, Tony Dovolani, Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, and Tristan MacManus. The current celebrity contestants danced with their partners next to two of the four pro dancers performing the same routine for part of the dance, which would make any mistakes on the celebrity’s part even more glaring.
Zendaya and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy performed an Argentine tango and earned two 10 scores, the first of the season, from the judges. Chmerkovskiy dedicated the scores to the residents of Boston.
During the “side-by-side” portion, Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy danced next to Chmerkovskiy’s brother Maks and Trebunskaya. In an interview with USA Today, Zendaya said she initially found it hard to tap into the emotion that the tango required.
“I'm young,” she said. “It's kind of tough when you're talking about being in love and all this stuff I've never experienced or understood in my own life.”
But the judges all praised her performance.
“Every move you do has a story… and I love it,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Zendaya.
With two 10 scores and one 9, Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy moved to the front of the pack with a score of 29.
Behind Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy were celebrity contestant Kellie Pickler and pro dancer Derek Hough, who earned a score of 27. Occupying the bottom slot was comedian Andy Dick and his partner, Sharna Burgess, who earned a score of 18.