Calvin Johnson impresses ‘Dancing’ judges

The former Lions wide receiver tied with actress Jana Kramer of Rochester Hills with a score of 23 in ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

The typical ballroom dancing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” was jazzed up with theatrics, acrobatics and fantastical costumes on Monday.

Former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson Jr. and his partner Lindsay Arnold danced a Charleston based on the show “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.”

In the fourth week of the reality show competition, the 11 remaining couples performed dances inspired by Cirque du Soleil, which has toured around the U.S. since 1987.

As a Cirque du Soleil performer swung through the air, former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson Jr. and his partner Lindsay Arnold danced a Charleston based on the show “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.”

Their performance earned 23 points out of 30 and, for Johnson, the nickname “twinkle toes” from judge Julianne Hough.

“You guys were so light on your feet, which is exactly what the Charleston is about. ...You guys completely nailed that,” Hough said.

Judge Bruno Tonioli went so far as to call Johnson “the showman with superpowers.”

“You were tossing (Arnold) in the air as if she were a pancake,” he said.

After, Johnson — who retired from the NFL in March — told co-host Erin Andrews that all the dancing has kept him in even better shape than his Lions days.

“I haven’t been under 230 in a long time. I usually played around 240,” he said. “I’m around like 228, so I’m losing weight and shaving it off.”

Johnson’s wife, Brittney, whom he married in June, made an appearance in a recorded segment, commenting how proud she is of her husband who turned 31 last week.

“A year ago, I don’t think anyone would have said Calvin was going to be 31, retired and on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” she said. Turning to Johnson during rehearsal, she joked, “I thought you were going to be vegging on the couch, playing video games.”

Actress and singer Jana Kramer of Rochester Hills and her partner Gleb Savchenko performed a foxtrot to the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” inspired by the show “Love.” The two tied with Johnson with a score of 23.

But it was Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and her partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy who blew the judges away, earning the top score of 30 — the first perfect score of the season — for their flawless jazz routine to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” for the show “One.”

“Normally it’s like a no-no to do Michael Jackson because he’s really hard to emulate and even come close, but Laurie Hernandez just killed it,” said judge Carrie Ann Inaba.

After the number, Hernandez said she “found her inner Michael Jackson” (it may have helped she was the King of Pop a few years in a row for Halloween).

With a score of 18, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and partner Allison Holker came in last for their routine to the show “Love.”

Tuesday’s episode at 8 p.m. is a double elimination, when two couples with the lowest scores from the judges and viewer votes will be sent home.

Last week, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and partner Emma Slater danced their last dance. The show held a “face off night,” pitting two couples against each other to dance the same style to different songs. Both Johnson and Kramer won their challenges and were granted immunity from elimination.

Judge Len Goodman also won’t be returning for a few weeks, as he’s judging the show’s British counterpart, “Strictly Come Dancing.”

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Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg