Dancing with the Stars' Semi-Finals Night offered a shot at redemption but ended in heartbreak
by Kim Krober
The pressure was on for the six remaining couples on Dancing with the Stars as they battled for spots in next week's finale and the chance to take home the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. During the first round of Semi-Finals Night, each couple had the chance for redemption by redoing a dance they previously struggled with during the competition. During the second round, each couple danced a remaining dance style. Most of these ended up being Contemporary dances, which gave the couples the opportunity to shine with many near-perfect judges' scores at a crucial point in the competition. I also enjoyed the special Sing 2-inspired performance from the pros halfway through the night.
Let's see how your favorites fared on this ninth week of competition:
Round One: Redemption Round
Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke, Salsa
Cody and Cheryl didn't get the chance to dance a Salsa in the ballroom due to their bout with COVID earlier in the season. Therefore, Bruno wanted to see a redemption Salsa. Bruno proclaimed the race to the finale started with a bang, complimenting them for the high energy and hip-shaking action. Carrie Ann called it the definition of redemption and loved seeing Cody really get into the movements. Len said it was an action-packed full-on Salsa, although Cody was a bit flat-footed at times. Derek said the last leg lift left him gasping, calling it a huge improvement from week two.
Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev, Rumba
Melora and Artem's Rumba on week two lacked hip action and rhythm, so Len challenged them to a redemption Rumba to Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait." Len thought it was terrific with interesting choreography (along with a few colorful comments about her booty). Derek admired the pureness of their Rumba, along with its flow and articulation. Bruno loved the pitch, saying she went from sexy to cheeky to romantic. Carrie Ann praised the technique but thought some expression was lost from her hands. The lift police also detected a lift, which she said forced her to knock a point from her score.
Suni Lee & Sasha Farber, Foxtrot
Carrie Ann wanted to see Suni and Sasha redo their Foxtrot, saying Suni lacked bringing personality to the dance the first time. Their redemption Foxtrot to "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble was easily one of their best. Carrie Ann praised her for blossoming and gaining momentum at this stage of the competition. Len called it a joyful, happy dance with terrific frame, although the footwork was suspect in parts. Derek loves Suni 2.0, telling her to be proud of herself. Bruno commented that this girl can certainly trot, commending her for managing to show connection and character within the dance. I think she's grown the most this season, coming out of her shell and radiating confidence.
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson, Argentine Tango
JoJo and Jenna's Argentine Tango on week three didn't have the sizzle Len wanted to see. Their redemption Argentine Tango to Gotan Project's "Santa Maria" had more of a sultry quality to it. Len called it bloody brilliant. Derek appreciated Len's mic drop and seeing two females dance such a clean, artistic Argentine Tango together. Bruno said he needed a rewiring because all of his fuses were blown by such an outstanding performance. Carrie Ann loved the passion and powerful clarity.
Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach, Tango
Derek challenged Iman and Daniella to make their Tango capitalize on Iman's size and frame to his advantage. Their redemption Tango to Martynas' "Telephone" was one of their best performances to date. I never would have predicted this guy to make the Semi-Finals at the first of the season, but he has won me over with his work ethic and for creating memorable moments. Derek praised him for debunking the myth that you can't have a beautiful frame with this big of a height difference. Bruno said it was smart, congratulating him for delivering the goods. Carrie Ann admired the frame and magic on the ballroom floor. Len called it a vast improvement from week three, saying it was brilliant.
Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten, Tango
Len wanted to see Amanda and Alan redo their Tango from week one with better body contact. Their redemption Tango to "Titanium" by David Guetta and Sia was a perfect way to end the Redemption Round. Len thought it delivered with attack, aggression, and fabulous movement across the floor. Derek praised her for being the most consistent dancer in the competition with beautiful frame. Bruno called it platinum, with the clear-cut precision of a diamond. Carrie Ann told her she danced the Tango like a boss, although she would have to dock her a point for lifting her foot from the floor.
Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev, Contemporary
Melora and Artem's Contemporary dance to "Thunder" by Imagine Dragons was among my favorites of the night. I will be so disappointed if she doesn't make it to the finale. Len liked the way the dance mirrored every nuance of the music, saying it was full of attack and purpose. Derek loves seeing and feeling her love of dance come across in every performance. Bruno praised the sense of freedom and lightness. Carrie Ann called her the most beautiful lyrical dancer, putting everything out there on the dance floor for everyone to see. I was more than a little disappointed by four 9's from the judges.
Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke, Argentine Tango
Cody and Cheryl's Argentine Tango to "La Cumparsita" by Forever Tango proved why he's still around in this competition, albeit even if it lacked momentum at times. Derek loved the iconic opening image and seeing Cheryl working it overtime. Bruno called it a red-hot Argentine Tango. Carrie Ann admired the drama brought to the dance. Len complimented him for coming such a long way from week one. It was enough to garner four 9's from the judges.
Suni Lee & Sasha Farber, Contemporary
Suni and Sasha's Contemporary dance to "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles felt raw and powerful and utilized her gymnastics background well. It gave me chills. Bruno said gravity didn't apply, calling her jumps weightless. Carrie Ann called it magical, showcasing her versatility as a performer. Len could tell she danced it with feeling, calling it dramatic and passionate. Derek loved seeing her come to an inward realization and seeing her fully enjoy herself out there on the dance floor. I would concur.
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson, Contemporary
As someone else who lost a beloved grandparent within the past few months, it made JoJo and Jenna's Contemporary dance to Lewis Capaldi's "Before You Go" all the more poignant. Carrie Ann said it was an amazing demonstration of everything she represents. Len praised her for mixing artistry with athleticism, saying she dances with such maturity for someone so young. Derek was in love with her grandma and gave her a standing ovation for having the best Contemporary ever on the program. Bruno called it exquisite, comparing them to two angels and souls totally reunited.
Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach, Jazz
Iman and Daniella's Jazz routine to "Dark Fantasy" by Kanye West was surprising, much like most of what he has brought to this competition. If he makes it to the finale, he will have a flavorful Freestyle. Len said it had more lifts than Uber, but they were all spectacular. Derek proclaimed him the "Bench Press King" and Daniella the "Plank Queen," praising him for hitting the lines and timing. Bruno had body envy, calling the lifts heart-stopping at times. Carrie Ann admired him for bringing something dynamic, athletic, and artistic to his dances. He received two 10's and two 9's from the judges.
Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten, Contemporary
Amanda and Alan's Contemporary dance to Lenii's "Live Your Life" was dedicated to her husband Nick Cordero who passed after a lengthy COVID coma last year. It made me cry, especially when her partner Alan cried. It was such a beautiful ending to the show. Derek said she did this dance for herself, not the audience or the judges, calling it a wonderful moment. Bruno said she touched the heart of the nation and it was beyond critique. Carrie Ann saw her disappear and transcend to perfection. Len appreciated seeing two very different but fantastic dances from her tonight.
After watching everyone's shot at redemption, it was difficult to come to the realization that Semi-Finals Night was going to close with another heart-wrenching double elimination. It came down to Amanda and Alan, Suni and Sasha, and Melora and Artem in the bottom three. Melora and Artem were eliminated automatically, which really made me really mad, as she was one of the best and most consistent dancers on the program. The judges were then given the unenviable task of choosing between Amanda and Alan and Suni and Sasha. Ultimately, the judges voted to save Amanda and Alan. It broke my heart for Suni and Sasha, who had also worked so hard to make it to the finale. I had a sinking feeling these two would be eliminated tonight, but it still felt a bit surreal.
Do you think the right contestant went home? Keep voting for your favorites!
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