‘Dancing With the Stars’ Switch-Up Week Sparks Sultry Surprises

Bindi Irwin finds chemistry with Val Chmerkovskiy, while Alek Skarlatos turns up the heat with new partner Emma Slater


(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched Monday’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars”)

Just as they were getting comfortable with their professional partners, the “Dancing With the Stars” Season 21 contestants had to get cozy with new sidekicks on Monday’s episode.

Host Tom Bergeron was back after a week off caring for his ailing father, and he announced that new couples for the night were chosen by fans via Twitter and on ABC.com.

Struggling celebrity chef Paula Deen paired with younger dancer Mark Ballas, while fan favorite Bindi Irwin kissed goodbye to Derek Hough to make magic with Val Chmerkovskiy.

“It’s all about changing everything,” the daughter of late “Crocodile Hunter” star Steve Irwin said.

Meanwhile, Deen told Ballas: “You’re not going to be able to take me, you’re so edgy. I’m so scared of you.” Fortunately, a change of pace worked well for Deen, and guest judge Maksim Chmerkovskiy had positive praise and a solid score for her.

Alek Skarlatos was told by his new partner, Emma Slater, to “man handle” her during the Rhumba, as she made no secret of the fact that she thought he was hot in every way. The feeling seemed mutual, as the Paris train attack hero admitted that he “couldn’t keep his cool” around her, and even an elbow to the nose during rehearsals didn’t quell his passion.

Randomly, Bindi brought in a giant anaconda to auditions so that Chmerkovskiy could “see how I work” and understand her constant animal references. The scaly inspiration seemed to pay off and Val’s brother Maks called their subsequent performance “the dance of the night.” Meanwhile judge Bruno Tonioli told Irwin: “You lift my spirits like a bright summer’s day.” The judges loved the new partnership so much that they rewarded the Australian teen with another 10.

While it was all smiles on the dance floor, Bergeron had a sad announcement about his late father to close out the episode.

“My dad loved this show, never missed an episode,” Bergeron said, fighting back the tears. “And I’d like to think somewhere that he didn’t miss this one.”

“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.