‘DWTS’ Performer AJ McLean Tops Leaderboard Alongside Cheryl Burke With Sassy Samba

Cheryl Burke and AJ McLean appear on DWTS.
Eric McCandless / ABC

Dancing with the Stars performer AJ McLean topped the leaderboard for the first time alongside professional partner Cheryl Burke after their sassy Samba to “Mi Gente” by J Balvin and Willy William during the Top 11 show. The Backstreet Boys member scored nines across the board, with an overall total of 27 out of 30 points from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough, and Bruno Tonioli.

AJ appeared to sail his way through the challenging dance, which requires performers to move their feet, arms, and hips incredibly fast.

He had likely one of the best female partners on the series for that particular ballroom performance. In 2005, Cheryl won the World Cup Professional Rising Star Latin Champion only 10 years after beginning her ballroom training at the age of 11.

AJ and Cheryl shared their bond that has gone way beyond that of an instructor and student. He claimed that his two daughters Lyric and Ava already call her “Aunt Cheryl” and that they consider one another family.

In a videotaped package that aired prior to their performance, Cheryl revealed that despite his confidence on the ballroom floor, AJ constantly apologized to his pal when he made a mistake during rehearsal and used the word sorry over and over. Cheryl asked AJ why he always apologized, and he revealed he had no good reason why.

Despite what appeared to be a difficult experience as he learned the fast-moving steps, the couple performed beautifully during the live show and their scores, along with viewer votes, pushed them into the Top 10 competitors.

The twosome looked fabulous in coordinating dark-hued costumes.

Cheryl had on a one-piece bodysuit with a fringed bottom. The top had an illusion neckline and sleeves that were attached to a sweetheart neckline bedazzled with rhinestones. AJ wore a sparkling dress shirt and pants.

Fans congratulated them on their performance in the comments section of a Dancing with the Stars Instagram post.

“Loved it it was nice to finally see him get 9s,” wrote one fan.

Another commented that they felt the singer and performer was robbed of a perfect score as his routine was “flawless.”

“Give him contemporary next week for tears and a ten from Carrie Ann,” joked a third viewer of the series on Instagram.

“Yesssssssss.. AJ is killing it.. my favorite male celebrity this season.. fantastic. Nice to see Cheryl given a partner who really takes notes from her and improves each and every week. Love their friendship,” penned a fourth follower.