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Carrie Ann Inaba breaks down Xochitl Gomez injury and victory on “DWTS”, why she loved Barry Williams' dance

Each week during Dancing With the Stars, judge Carrie Ann Inaba will answer a few questions about the season 32 contestants and their race to win the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy. Today, Carrie Ann shares her thoughts via email about Halloween's episode, Xochitl Gomez's injury, and why she had so much love for Barry Williams.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Halloween is a long tradition on Dancing With the Stars. Is it your favorite of all the nights?

CARRIE ANN INABA: Dancing With the Stars started the Halloween themed nights way back in season 3 and it's something I look forward to every year - for many reasons.  I've been working in live television over 35 years now, and I can say that the production value on our show is unmatched.


Courtesy CARRIE ANN INABA Carrie Ann Inaba on 'Dancing With the Stars'


The hair, makeup, and costume departments have won numerous Emmys and and it's a thrill to see what they are going to do for each couple. Also, Halloween night has produced some of the most innovative and outstanding choreography. The most recent of which is Daniella Karagach and Iman Shumpert's Halloween contemporary dance [in season 30]. 

A few more that immediately come to mind are Milo Manheim and Witney Carson [in season 27]; Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold [in season 25]; and Nev Shulman and Jenna Johnson [in season 29].


Adam Taylor/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli on 'Dancing With the Stars'

And I have to admit, I love dressing up for Halloween.  When the show isn't on, I am the house that usually has a line of people coming and friends and I gather to give out candies to all the kids.  I really adore seeing the creativity of all the kids in the neighborhood.  So, I love working with my HMUW team to create my Halloween looks.  I've been PennyWise, Morticia Adams, a Raven, and this year the Ice Queen.


Courtesy CARRIE ANN INABA Carrie Ann Inaba on 'Dancing With the Stars'

It was very hard to see what was happening on camera. What was going on with Xochitl when she got hurt? Did she fall? Which one of you said "Uh-oh," which we could hear on air?

I'm not sure who's voice could be heard saying, "Uh-oh," but we were all worried about Xochitl when she came down to hear the judges' critiques because she looked like she was in pain. She later posted that she had scraped her knee on a set piece.  But she's a trooper and as we all know, the show must go on and she got right back out there, and she and Val won the dance marathon!

Xochitl Gomez
Xochitl Gomez

ABC/ Disney Val Chmerkovskiy and Xochitl Gomez on 'Dancing With the Stars'

Were you surprised she was able to do so well in the dance marathon?

Xochitl is our youngest competitor this season, however, she is a seasoned performer and a professional, and sometimes mishaps can bring out a surge of adrenaline, that can lead to incredible feats. The dance marathon is the longest dance they ever do on DWTS.  She and Val actually seemed to have a lot of choreography for the two styles of dances in the "Monsterthon," both the Hustle and the Charleston. She's proven herself as a dancer and she gave every last ounce of her energy to that dance marathon and it was impressive.  But even more impressive, is that she and Val had large portions of choreography for both styles of dance. The dance marathon is a test of not only versatility (two styles of dance), showmanship, and ability (dancing right next to your competitors) but also, endurance.  It was survival of the finest and fittest, and Xochitl and Val endured to win it which gave them an extra five points to win the night.

Barry got a lot of criticism from Derek, but you had nothing but praise for him. Why did you love it so much?

I have so much love and respect for my fellow judges. We each come from different experiences, and we look for different things, which keeps the panel balanced. Personally, I loved Barry's performance because it shifted the energy in the room.  Some performances have the power to bring joy and lift the energy of everyone who watches. For me, that is always important.  I'm looking at the performance as a whole, the connection to the audience, the authenticity, the quality of the movement, personal expression, and their personal growth in addition to the the technique of that particular style.  But for me, technique is a means to get to a wonderful performance. As even the legendary Len Goodman once said, "Technique is like peeing down your leg, you think it's hot, but no one else does!"

Barry DWTS
Barry DWTS

ABC/Disney Barry Williams and Peta Murgatroyd on 'Dancing With the Stars'

Why did y'all choose Barry and Peta as the first out in the marathon? And what was it about Val and Xochitl that made them the winners in your eyes?

Honestly, it's so hard to choose who goes out first in the Dance Marathon.  The four of us all had our difrerent opinions, and it happens very quickly. Did we get it right?  I'm not sure. But the first to go and the second to go end up with the same amount of points, so I think in that sense it was fair. 

Were you surprised Mauricio Umansky and Emma Slater went home? He has been improving every week, and Rylee Arnold and Harry Jowsey have consistently been at the bottom of the leaderboard.

At this point, it's anyone's guess who is going home. Mauricio has really had a wonderful journey on Dancing With the Stars.  Seeing his enthusiasm each week was refreshing.  He really was having a great time and it showed. I would have loved to see him continue because I believe he would have continued to improve. When some people are eliminated, even though it's sad, there's a sense that they reached their maximum potential on the dance floor. That was not the case for Mauricio. I think there was more for him and Emma, but I bet he comes back for the finale and does something wonderful.

What do Rylee/Harry and Alyson/Sasha need to do to survive next week?

Both Alyson and Harry have come a long way from week one and I applaud them! In order to survive, my advice is: Harry needs to push himself like an athlete.  He needs to use his full range of motion and tap into his athleticism.  Dance is also a sport, and it takes intense training and physical strength to perform these dances. That's why athletes often do well.  He is still quite tentative when he performs.  At week 6 going into week 7, I'd like to see him move with more conviction. At 6'4", if he used his full range of motion and continued to work on his musicality and confidence, it would change his performances drastically. That is my advice to Harry — and it's up to Rylee to teach him the technique of his next dance and make sure the proper content is choreographed for him.

Alyson Hannigan gives nod to Buffy roots in vampire performance on DWTS
Alyson Hannigan gives nod to Buffy roots in vampire performance on DWTS

ABC/Disney Sasha Ferber and Alyson Hannigan on 'Dancing With the Stars'

Alyson is such a bright light. She really works hard and she wins your heart because she works so hard. It's doesn't come easy for her. Sasha should work with her on light and shade in her performances. She hits a tone, and it doesn't change throughout the dance, which makes the performances feel a bit forced and unnatural. I'd like to see Alyson do choreography that allows her to express more of who she is in the dances.  And for Sasha to work with her on polishing the movements for her body and the way she moves, helping her to relax more into the moves while maintaining proper technique.

If I see growth each week, that always earns a point from me.  Each star has their own journey and everyone's "10" looks different.

Halloween was a blast and I look forward to next week when we have Music Video night.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Dancing With the Stars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC and Disney+ and streams the following day on Hulu.

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