This week's assignment: Think of your most intense life experience. Now, dance it out.
This particular week on the show ends up dredging up some heart-wrenching stories, making it difficult to judge because of the mixing of emotions and technique. Dancers were challenged to tell a personal story about the most memorable year of their life through their dance.
The dance that truly brought tears to my eyes was J.R. Martinez's poignant rumba, inspired by his Army injuries from a landmine explosion in Iraq at age 19. He dedicated the dance to the servicemen and women who don't make it home, set to Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This."
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called the performance "one of the most profound, honest dances" she's ever seen on the show.
If someone will kindly pass the tissues, I will move on to recap the rest of the show.
Other dancers also shared difficult memories.
Nancy Grace performed a waltz to "Moon River," her wedding song and also the first lullaby she sang to her twin infants after an emergency delivery and health complications.
Chynna Phillips danced a rumba to her own song, "Hold on," reliving 1990 when the song was released and she was wrestling with feelings of depression and abandonment.
David Arquette chose to focus on last year, when his marriage fell apart and he struggled with alcohol. He dedicated his rumba to his love for his daughter. His form and carriage were better than in last week's performance. He also took the DWTS plunge and bared his chest this week.
Rob Kardashian dedicated his performance to the memory of his father, who died of cancer in 2003. His foxtrot to Frank Sinatra's "Fly me to the Moon" was playfully romantic. As judge Len Goodman put it, he "put the dash into Kardashian."
Rob, I will say, needs to brush up on his Broadway as he was befuddled by Judge Bruno Tonioli's reference to "Guys and Dolls."
Ricki Lake has gotten daring with her costuming in the past two weeks. This week found her in one of those drapy, bedsheet-esque getups that we've seen in seasons past.
Her rumba was about finding true love and was inspired by her experience in 2010, when her house burned down, she became resigned to the idea of being a single mom and then met her new fiance. Ricki earned three 9s from the judges -- a first for the season.
Not all the dancers chose to take the tears and tragedy route.
In stark contrast to her fellow dancers, Kristin Cavallari's goal this week was to channel her "inner Beyonce" with "hair-whipin' and booty shakin.'"
A samba set to Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" was meant to tell the story of Kristin's 2005, the year she graduated from high school and moved to LA. Kristin seemed to have more confidence on the dance floor...but I can't say her story really came through.
Hope Solo sported a mixture of black lace, satin, sequins and frill that looked — dare I say — skanky. With all those various textures in her outfit, it might have been the crimping of her hair that set the whole ensemble over the edge. She also borrowed Ricki's "fish lips" from last week to top it off.
She honored her 2011 World Cup experience by dancing to her team song by Enrique Iglesias.
Chaz got mixed reviews from the judges for his rumba, which focused on the past year when Chaz says he's been happiest in his life, embracing his identity and being comfortable in his skin.
He fared better with a slow-paced rumba (set to Chaz's father's song "Laugh at Me") in which his partner Lacey did a lot of dancing around a mostly stationary Chaz. Carrie Ann says Chaz didn't do enough dancing for her, while Len said it was his best dance yet.
Carson Kressley: Bless his heart, but he struggles with letting his movements flow on the dance floor. His tango got positive reviews from the judges, mostly because of how much humor he injects into his performance. As Len said, he "puts the boy in flamboyant."
Like Cavallari, Kressley chose an upbeat number reliving his happiness from 2003, when his show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" aired and was nominated for an Emmy.