(LOS ANGELES) — The four remaining couples on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars pulled out all the stops Monday night in their final bid to win the mirror ball trophy. Each couple performed three routines, including the all-important freestyle.
At the end of the night, Zendaya and partner Val Chmerkovskiy were atop the leader board, while Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff found themselves in last place.
The fourth-place couple will be eliminated within the first hour of the results show on Tuesday, and in a final element of the competition, the three remaining couples will perform a new routine in an instant dance. The routine will be scored and added to the judges’ scores for both nights.
The couple with the highest combined total of judges’ scores and viewers’ votes will be declared the winner.
Host Tom Bergeron made a point during the broadcast to mention the deadly tornado that struck Oklahoma Monday afternoon. Bergeron said “our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the devastating tornado…” He then asked the studio audience to applaud the “amazing courage of the first responders on site.”
For the first routine, the judges picked a style of dance each star had previously performed, asking them to re-do it and improve upon it. The second routine was a cha cha cha relay in which all the stars danced and had the opportunity to earn up to five extra points from the judges. The third dance was the freestyle.
Jacoby Jones: For their first dance, the jive, the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver and partner Karina Smirnoff got some advice during rehearsals from head judge Len Goodman, who advised the NFL star to make his kicks sharp and crisp. Judges saw improvement in Jones’ kicks during the ballroom performance, but said the routine had a few flaws. “The footwork was a bit better…you got excited on occasion and you lost it but overall I’ve got to say, I saw that slightly crisper footwork,” Goodman said. Bruno Tonioli told Jones he always brought a “limitless supply of energy and power” but said he missed the beat “quite a few times” and also went flat-footed. Carrie Ann Inaba told Jones he “always brought the swagger” and was always exciting to watch. Total score: 27 out of a possible 30 points.
In the cha-cha relay, judges ranked Jones fourth place, earning him two extra points.
Jones’ tap dance-inspired supersized freestyle came with help from several other dancers on the ballroom floor, and while the judges commended the upbeat, celebratory air, they also found flaws. Tonioli said the routine was “like watching a Mardi Gras parade down Bourbon Street.” Inaba thought the production was good but felt that it overshadowed Jones. “That’s the sad part. I wanted you to be the star,” she said. Total score: 27 out of a possible 30 points.
Aly Raisman: The Olympic gymnast got advice from Tonioli, who walked her through performing the samba roll, a difficult move, for her first dance. Her samba with partner Mark Ballas wowed the judges. Tonioli said Raisman did everything he asked for and she was “prettier than ever, and cleaner and slicker than ever.” Inaba told Raisman she had the musicality and sensuality, swagger and beautiful lines of her fellow finalists. Goodman said the routine was “a little bit heavy in the legs on occasion,” but overall, the performance was terrific. Samba score: 28/30.
In the cha-cha relay, Raisman was ranked third, picking up three points.
Raisman’s supersize freestyle was a futuristic performance that unfolded with her and Ballas dancing on poles to showcase her gymnastic ability. The judges were impressed. Inaba said it was “one of the most amazing routines” she’d seen in a finale freestyle, and Goodman said he loved the concept, adding that it had “great imagination.” Tonioli told Raisman that she took “an incredible risk.” The risk paid off. Total score: 30/30.
Kellie Pickler: The country music star and partner Derek Hough performed the quickstep for their first dance. Pickler had danced the quickstep before and Inaba had noted that she didn’t see enough body contact. The ballroom audience loved Pickler’s routine Monday and gave her prolonged applause. Inaba also approved, saying the performance had the body contact she wanted to see. Tonioli told Pickler the routine was, technically, “a tour de force.” Total score: 30/30.
In the cha-cha relay, Pickler was ranked second, earning four points.
Pickler’s contemporary freestyle routine brought her another enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience and a hug from a teary-eyed Inaba. “Kellie, you just bared your soul on the dance floor and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Thank you,” Inaba said. Goodman also stood up to applaud for Pickler, telling her the routine drew everyone in. Tonioli called the routine “a dance of spellbinding beauty.” Total score: 30/30.
Zendaya: The season’s youngest competitor had a visit from Inaba during rehearsals for her first dance, the samba, and she got some pointers from the judge. Inaba Ann called the 16-year-old Disney star’s performance with partner Val Chmerkovskiy “magical,” while Goodman exclaimed, “That was eye-popping, show-stopping, jaw-dropping – that’s a samba.” Tonioli added, “You’re just incredibly fierce, child…you have a natural flamboyance that’s so easy. It comes out without effort.” Total score: 30/30.
Zendaya won the cha cha cha relay, earning 5 points.
Zendaya’s freestyle, with elements of contemporary, cha cha cha and hip hop, ended with several young dancers joining her and Chmerkovskiy on the ballroom floor. Goodman liked the variety of styles in the performance. “There were so many parts to that number but it all came together and created a fabulous routine,” he said. Tonioli said Zendaya brought a “unique luminosity” to everything she performed. Total score: 30/30.
The Scores (First dance, second dance, freestyle dance, grand total):
The two-hour season finale results show, featuring musical performances from Pitbull, Wynonna and PSY, airs on ABC Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
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