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In a heartfelt performance that earned him a personal best score of the season, The Agency’s Mauricio Umansky wowed judges and the audience alike on Week 5 of Season 32 of Dancing with the Stars with a contemporary interpretive dance.
The show’s theme this week was “Most Memorable Year” in which contestants reflected on the most memorable year of their lives, and with their professional dance partners, composed and performed a dance to reflect the changes that happened for them that year. Many of the dances were highly emotionally charged, as contestants reflected on battles with addiction, toxic relationships, meeting their significant other, having their first child and more.
The episode also featured a touching tribute to Len Goodman, one of Dancing with the Stars’ longtime judges, who passed away in April.
Umansky chose 1996, the year he was fired from L.A. fashion manufacturing company Carole Little while supporting his two young children, Farrah Brittany and Alexia Umansky, as well as his wife, Kyle Richards.
At that time, Richards encouraged Umansky to get his real estate license — something he had been considering for a long time — and the decision marked a turning point from which he never looked back, Umansky detailed in his book, The Dealmaker: How to Succeed in Business and Life Through Dedication, Determination and Disruption. Later that year, he joined Hilton & Hyland, where his brother-in-law Rick Hilton was a partner.
“I picked that because it was a year of change,” Umansky told his dance partner, Emma Slater, during rehearsals. “The four of us were living in a two-bedroom condo and just before Christmas, I got fired.
“After I got fired, my wife was clipping coupons just to make ends meet, and it was just an extraordinarily emotional moment in my life,” he continued. “I felt like an absolute failure of a human.”
When Umansky came home and burst into tears, he said Richards was there to pick him back up.
“She said, ‘You’ve always wanted to be in real estate — let’s look at it as an opportunity to change,'” Umansky told Slater. “And the truth is, that it ended up being the best experience on the planet.”
The experience made Umansky “extremely motivated,” he said, not because he wanted wealth necessarily, but because he “never want[ed] to be in a position again where I cannot put food on my table.”
The dance partners created and performed a powerful routine on Tuesday night that told the story of Umansky starting in a low, desperate place, and rising up out of it with the help of his wife.
In controlled, athletic movements, Umansky and Slater pushed and pulled at each other to the song Rise Up by Andra Day to manifest his personal growth through dance.
“Contemporary [dance], everyone thinks it’s so easy,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Umansky after the performance. “It’s not — because when you fake contemporary, we feel it, and it makes my skin crawl! That was the furthest thing from making my skin crawl. That was beautiful — every movement was so intentional.”
Added judge Derek Hough, “You embody the saying ‘The obstacle is the way.’ You’ve had some obstacles in your life, but you went through it … And you’re giving these amazing treasures every single week, my man. You are becoming a freakin’ dancer — it’s crazy!”
Judge Bruno Tonioli, who is often the most critical of the judges, also had high praise.
“You gave it all you’ve got,” he said. “And it was so true, so honest, we could all read the journey. To be brief, your best dance yet.”
After receiving the judges’ feedback, Umansky and Slater debriefed with co-host Julianne Hough just before receiving their score.
“It was a beautiful dance,” Umansky said, reflecting on the night’s performance. “Emma choreographed an amazing dance; it meant so much to me. It’s been an insane week, super emotional week. And I was able to get in touch with those emotions, which was very difficult for me, so I feel great.”
The judges awarded Umansky his best score to date, at 8 points from each judge to add up to 24 out of a possible 30 points. The score placed him tied for fourth place with four other pairs of dancers that evening.
By the end of the evening, with the judges scores and audience votes all tallied, Umansky was safe to advance to the next week, and actor Mira Sorvino and her dance partner, Gleb Savchenko, were eliminated.
Week 6 of Dancing with the Stars, which takes place on Halloween, will feature a theme in accordance with the holiday. Nine pairs of dancers remain.