As Dancing With The Stars nears the end of its sixteenth season, the final four couples are stepping up their game. The ABC show took time to honor the victims of Monday’s devastating tornado in Oklahoma City before getting on with the final night of performances.
“We’re a live show, and as such, occasionally we go to air in the shadow of tragic events. That happened April 15, when we went to air hours after the Boston bombing. And it’s happened again today. While we’re having a celebration here [in the ballroom], we want you to know our thoughts are with everyone who’s been affected by the devastating tornado in Oklahoma City,” said the emotional host, Tom Bergeron. “I would, however, ask you to applaud the amazing courage of the first responders on site.”
After the moment of silence, the competition got started with a bang with each couple performing three separate dances. First, a routine selected by judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. Next, a cha-cha relay for forty seconds each, and lastly, the ever-entertaining freestyle round.
The competition was fiercer than ever with the couples drawing more perfect scores than any other night this season. Here’s how it all went down.
Despite battling a bloody eye injury from rehearsals, Val Chemrovskiy and Zendaya owned the night. All three of their spins earned perfect scores from the judges. First, their scorching samba impressed all four judges, prompting Bruno to declare, “You’re just incredibly fierce, child!” Len agreed, calling their turn “eye-popping, show-stopping and jaw-dropping.”
They also took the lead in the cha-cha relay, adding five points to their final score at the end of the night. Their freestyle routine was especially impressive and incorporated numerous dance styles from throughout the season. By the end of the electrifying number, Carrie Ann complimented Zendaya’s consistency. “Way to bring it home,” she said. “You’re just divine, my dear.”
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough weren’t far behind the flawless frontrunners of the evening. Judges chose the quickstep for their first performance and they nailed it, earning a perfect score. “I was palpitating, perspirating and I got so excited I was nearly flatulating!” exclaimed an extremely excitable Len. Bruno agreed it was “better than ever” and the pair seemed relieved to be back on top after a tough couple of weeks.
The pair came in second place in the cha-cha relay, nabbing four extra points for their total score. Their barefoot freestyle was simple yet particularly moving. Carrie Ann was touched to tears and said, “It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.” Wow. Len agreed, telling the pair, “Good dancing engages the brain. Great dancing engages the heart.”
Aly Raisman and her pro partner, Mark Ballas, took on the samba in the first round. The gymnast was in her groove despite her partner’s awkward outfit and drew praise from the panel. “You have the swagger like Jacoby and the lines of Kellie and the musicality of Zendaya,” noted Carrie Ann. Their sexy samba earned then 28 points, with the only 10 coming from Bruno.
They fared a bit better in the cha-cha challenge, where they came in third to add three points to their score. For their freestyle, it was clear that the gold medal winner had a slight advantage over the rest of the bunch. Her amazing acrobatics came in handy for the futuristic-themed number that included a pole perfectly positioned to show off her fantastic flipping abilities.
Judges were floored and Carrie Ann said, “That was one of the most amazing routines I’ve seen on Dancing With the Stars.” The routine earned Aly a perfect score and a new nickname from Len—”Alexandra The Great.”
The only disappointing delivery came from Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff, who got off to a rocky start with their jive. Although it was extremely entertaining, the gimmicky routine was no match for the night’s stiff competition. The footballer’s enthusiasm took away from his technique leaving Len to admit, “ You got excited at times and lost it.” At judging time, they earned only 27 points from the panel. Ouch.
The couple finished last in the cha-cha relay, squeezing out only two bonus points for the pair who needed them most. The freestyle round failed to offer redemption despite help from a crew of tap dancers and typical twirling of Karina overhead. While the judges applauded his energy once again, the bells and whistles “outshined” him according to Carrie Ann. In the end, they landed on the bottom with 27 points.
With only one point between Zendaya and Kellie, and nine points separating the top scoring team from the bottom, it’s still anyone’s game. The top team will take home the coveted mirror ball trophy when the winner is announced on Tuesday night’s finale.