Following their Cruella de Vil-inspired Paso Doble, judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Kaitlyn that she felt like she "gave up" and at one point lost her "spirit" in the dance. She gave the dance duo a 7 for the routine, while Derek Hough awarded them a 9 and Bruno Tonioli an 8 for a total score of 24/30.
"What's so hard is, you are a good dancer, and I saw you trying really hard tonight. The things that didn't go well for you was the lift, number one. Number two, you are not resisting enough," Carrie Ann said. "I think it's because of your flexibility, sometimes you don't hold your shape strong because the elbows give out, so work on that."
"Also, it felt like at moments you gave up. You had a moment of chaos there and I saw it in your eyes, and I felt like your spirit dropped," she added. "I don't want to discourage you because I do think you are a fantastic dancer but this was another not-great dance of yours and I apologize."
While speaking with ET just moments after the show wrapped, Artem opened up about why he felt Carrie Ann's explanation "wasn't enough" of a reason to give them a low mark. The routine was filled with plenty of advanced content, to a level that some of the other contestants haven't been able to master just yet.
"My thought, No. 1 is, does content of the dance not count anymore? Because it's weird to me when we supposedly have to pursue a certain type of dance. I'm not going to speak of any specific couples, but I feel like, is there some kind of a standard now what dance should look like, or what it shouldn't?" Artem argued. "I feel like it just kinda goes left and right. There's definitely inconsistency."
"It's hard because if you compare the content level of what Kaitlyn has been doing, which Derek actually appreciated and said, like, 'That was actually amazing to see a real Paso Doble.' Not just walking around the room and pretending to be a certain character," he added. "I understand that this was Villains Night and we had to be certain characters ... but is that not supposed to look like [real] Paso Doble anymore? Like, where does the barrier end?"
Artem continued on, telling ET he thinks "judges need to make that fine and clear."
"And if they are judging something, then they need to justify the judging. Having certain feelings about the dance, this is not really about the feelings you have," he explained. "You're comparing a specific dance to a specific other potential dance that already happened on the show. So, you can't just all of a sudden just be like, 'Oh, I just didn't feel this dance, there's a seven for you.'"
"It's not enough explanation to give a low mark," he added. "You can say, 'It wasn't my favorite but I can appreciate that you've done a hell of a lot of work,' and, 'You've done an incredible dance, because the content of this dance was actually really on a high level.' So I can understand that. But saying, like, 'I don't feel it.' To me, it's kind of like, well, this is not about feelings for you, you know? This is not about that."
At the time of our interview, Artem said he had yet to watch the dance back on camera, but didn't feel like Kaitlyn was giving up at all while they were dancing live on the show.
"If it's constructive criticism, please, go ahead. I'm all up for, 'Hey, your toes were not pointed.' Like, I can see that. But giving up and saying I just didn't feel it? That's not constructive criticism," he argued. "We're judging dancing, we're not judging how we feel about it."
"I'm thinking right now, we should probably put a lot more gimmicks [in]. I did not know that this show required being gimmicky on the dance floor, because at the end of the day, yes, you have a certain character, but you still have to do dance steps. Maybe that's what we're missing," he joked. "Maybe we just need to strip away actual learning how to dance and do more gimmicks. Maybe that's what the judges will appreciate more."
Artem isn't the only pro dancer who spoke up about the seemingly inconsistent scoring and critiques this season, however. After being eliminated Monday night, Val Chmerkovskiy (who was paired with Cheer star Monica Aldama) alluded to ET that he feels like he couldn't really figure out what the judges wanted this season.
"It's all relative and it's all their opinion. There's no protocol. Like, all season, Monica was asking me for the scorecards, and I have no idea," Val admitted. "She's like, 'What is this? Why did we get those 9s? How about the Rumba? Why did we get the 9s versus getting 6s for the Jive, for instance.' It's hard for me to answer sometimes, because that's just what we got."
"Their job is really hard, but sometimes, they drop the ball. That's it," he added. "I think Derek does a great job really giving feedback that I can understand and I can really go back in the studio and clarify for my partner. So, you know, do more of that."
Cheryl Burke, who is partnered with AJ McLean this season, also weighed in, telling ET, "I see both sides. I definitely agree with Val in a sense, because what are the rules? We do have rules, right?"
"Like Quickstep and Tango, don't break hold. When AJ and I did ballroom Tango, you're not supposed to break hold, only the beginning and end. Then I see another couple who did a Tango who just totally broke hold but didn't get called out," she explained. "When Len [Goodman] was here, I think it was a little bit more structured."
"I always say, like jazz, is so hard to dance on a ballroom show," she added. "Because it's important to stay true to what the show is about, the authenticity of ballroom dancing."