Dancing with the Stars' season 30 finale felt a little like a consolation prize
by Kim Krober
Dancing with the Stars' season 30 came to a close, as the four remaining couples battled it out for the Mirror Ball trophy. I loved the opening sequence with all the former contestants returning to strut their stuff, especially when Martin Kove pretended to knock out The Miz. It was also good to see Melanie C from The Spice Girls and country singer Jimmie Allen return to perform. Notably missing was judge Derek Hough, who revealed he was diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID the day after Semi-Finals. His sister - DWTS darling Julianne Hough - was on-hand to fill in his judging shoes for the night. However, this felt like a consolation prize. And really the entire finale felt a bit like a consolation prize after so many of my favorites had already been knocked out of the competition.
From the beginning of the season, it seemed the judges were rooting for pop star JoJo Siwa and her pro partner Jenna Johnson. However, The Talk's Amanda Kloots and partner Alan Bersten certainly gave them a run for their money. The biggest surprises this season were seeing NBA star Iman Shumpert and partner Daniella Karagach and celebrity fitness guru Cody Rigsby and partner Cheryl Burke also make their way to the finale. Would an underdog capture the hearts of voters and take home the trophy or would it be awarded to the same-sex couple predicted to win from the start (not that they're undeserving of the title, but it felt like most of their stronger competition was missing)?
During the first round of competition, the couples were tasked with a Fusion Dance of two seemingly unrelated dance styles. Then it was time for the ever-popular Freestyle Round, which is often what makes or breaks a champion. Let's see how your favorites fared on this final week of competition:
Fusion Dance Round
Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten, Viennese Waltz and Paso Doble
Amanda and Alan's fusion Viennese Waltz and Paso Doble to INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" was a mesmerizing beginning to the show. Julianne complimented Amanda for such a beautiful journey. Bruno enjoyed the airy Viennese Waltz combined with the fiery Paso Doble, admiring their passion and intensity. Carrie Ann commended them for their quality, although she detected a bit of a stumble at the end. Len called her a total eclipse of the sun - a dancer that doesn't come around very often.
Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke, Paso Doble and Cha-Cha
Cody and Cheryl's fusion Paso Doble and Cha-Cha to En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" was a fitting showcase of Cody's strengths and determination. Bruno and Carrie Ann praised Cody for making it to the finale and proving himself a worthy contender for the Mirror Ball trophy. Len said it was full of vigor and vitality, though it could have benefited from a bit more shaping. Julianne could tell his footwork had vastly improved from last week, calling him a big fish in a global pond..
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson, Tango and Cha-Cha
JoJo and Jenna's fusion Tango and Cha-Cha to Icona Pop's "I Love It" was fun and spirited, much like their other dances this season. Carrie Ann loved seeing her transform into a leader throughout the competition beyond just being a good dancer. Len said she proved it doesn't matter if it's two women or two men dancing - if it's good dancing, it's magic. Julianne admired her for showing the world anything is possible. Bruno called it nuclear fusion with perfection from every angle.
Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach, Cha-Cha and Foxtrot
Iman and Daniella's fusion Cha-Cha and Foxtrot to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" was enjoyable, showcasing Iman's positive energy and suave presence. Len said sometimes underdogs bite back, and that's what Iman did tonight. Julianne never thought he was the underdog, saying she always liked watching him integrate himself into every dance. Bruno said the eagle had risen to new heights with a complete transformation to King of the Ballroom. Carrie Ann called him special from day one.
Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke, Freestyle
Cody and Cheryl's Freestyle to a medley of "Beethoven's Fifth" and Todrick Hall's "Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels" felt as extra and special as Cody himself. I absolutely loved Cheryl's glittery rainbow skirt, and it was so colorful from start to finish! Julianne enjoyed seeing the freak flag fly and watching him express himself so freely. Bruno compared him to J. Lo in Hustler and admired him for being out loud and proud. Carrie Ann called it the most flamboyant Freestyle they've ever seen, including some moves (twerking) this ballroom has never seen. Len said it was wild, wacky, and wonderful. Cody finally earned a perfect score from the judges, and he's never looked prouder.
Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten, Freestyleo
Amanda and Alan's Freestyle to Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars" was such a beautiful, exciting end to their partnership this season. I loved watching them week after week. Bruno said they watched a star be reborn before their very eyes the past 10 weeks, saying she's never shined brighter. Carrie Ann called her hope and resilience personified. Len praised her for beautiful lyrical dancing all season. Julianne enjoyed watching her open her heart and letting the universe in through dance.
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson, Freestyle
JoJo and Jenna's Freestyle to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" was the perfect celebration of their unique flavor and energy this season. Carrie Ann said it was beyond amazing, calling the future brighter and safer with positive role models such as JoJo in it. Len appreciated the elements of Salsa and other dance styles, calling them a stand-out couple the entire season. Julianne enjoyed seeing her freedom of expression, calling her an inspiration. Bruno said it was another smash hit and said he wished he'd had role models like JoJo to look up to when he was a child.
Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach, Freestyle
Iman and Daniella's Freestyle to a medley of Missy Elliot's "Lose Control" and DJ Clent's "Bounce" was the most hip-hop Freestyle I've ever seen on DWTS. Len called this season a fantastic book with twists and turns along the way, saying the final surprises on the last page were minutes away. Bruno said they brought the house down with their fancy Chicago footwork. Julianne proclaimed it her favorite Freestyle in 30 seasons of performing, judging, or spectating. Carrie Ann said it was so sick it was good and applauded him for letting his dance pro partner shine in this Freestyle.
And the winners are...
As the finale drew to a close, it was anybody's guess as to how America's votes would affect the results. In fourth place were Amanda and Alan, in third place were Cody and Cheryl, and, in a shocking turn of events, second place were JoJo and Jenna. Iman and Daniella did the impossible and won the Mirror Ball trophy. And I'm not even mad at that - I love a good underdog upset! But seriously, I think all four remaining couples deserve a pat on the back for their progressive journeys. Until next time, Dancing with the Stars!
Do you think the right couple took home the Mirror Ball trophy this season?
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