For the first time, the finals of "Dancing With the Stars" has three female celebrities going head-to-head for that sparkly Mirror Ball trophy. That means that for All-Star Season 15, it's also a war of the three male professional dancers/choreographers, and all three couples really hit the dance floor with fierce determination to win.
For a show that usually drags while it stuffs the time with filler instead of dancing, the one-hour performance final was sensational. The action moved right along with each couple first redoing one of their favorite dances that they thought they could improve, and then a super-sized freestyle with extra dancers and no rules on style, music, costumes or the dreaded
High-scorers for the night were Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, who were rewarded with two perfect 30's for their dances. The redo dance was a samba that scored 27 earlier in the season and this time was filled with tricks and plenty of dance moves. Judge Bruno Tonioli called Melissa, "deliciously irresistible," and applauded her growth in confidence. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba shouted, "Fabulous! Brilliant!" and head judge Len Goodman said Melissa was the "Carnival queen" and it was fabulous. Backstage, Melissa told co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet that they picked the samba because it was so different from their freestyle, and boy, was it! The pair performed a beautiful contemporary dance to Beyonce's 'I Was Here," that
Coming up only one point off the perfect mark was Kelly Monaco, who is determined to prove that she really can dance, and partner Val Chmerkovskiy, whose redo dance was the paso doble that was given a 27 earlier. The dance would have been perfect, except for a moment when Kelly lost her grip on Val's hand, but she didn't let the small flub distract her and finished with flair -- and a kiss from Val on her nose. Len recalled that he said it was their best dance to date when they did it in Week 3, and he repeated the compliment: "Your best dance to date." Bruno called it "a thing of beauty," while Carrie Ann said she was proud of Kelly and that
The final couple of the trio to dance each time was Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough, who decided to ignore the judges, push the boundaries and break the rules in redoing their quickstep with all the lifts (not allowed) and breaks from hold (not allowed) that got them a 26.5 the first time around. Their opinion was that it was the audience who counted, not the scores, and that they dedicated the season to the audience. So who cares about rules? The judges sure do, even while they tried to reward them for excellent dancing. "It was a fantastic routine, a fan favorite," said Carrie Ann. "It's sad you didn't choose to follow the rules; at this point, points do matter, and I hope the risk pays off for you two." Both Len and Bruno agreed that it was a great routine but broke the rules of the quickstep. "Our scores are bound by the rules, but it doesn't take away from your achievement," Bruno said. Their score was 27. For their freestyle, the "Fierce Five," the U.S. Olympic champion gymnastics team, joined the pair on the floor for a performance that was like a cross between dance steps and a gymnastics floor exercise. The tricks, flips, tumbles and splits were blended with what Len called, "a medley of Derek and Shawn's greatest hits," while Bruno declared it to be "fierce, flawless, exciting, explosive brilliance." Carrie Ann shouted that it was "super-good, sensational. You do not disappoint," and they received perfect 10's.
So now it's up to the voting viewers to determine who will be Season 15's champion: the Season 8 champ and Olympic dynamo seeking recovery after not being able to make the London Olympic team; the former "Bachelor" contestant who was close but not the winner in Season 8; or the Season 1 champ who has had to defend her winning for 14 seasons. Even the partners have side stories -- it's rumored that this is Derek's last season, and Tony has waited for 14 seasons -- even trying to help Kate Gosselin look like a dancer -- to have a real chance at that trophy.
Tuesday's show will be two hours long, with some dancing. There is still a largely ceremonial "instant" dance where the pairs learn the dance -- be it jive, cha cha or samba -- and music for their dance only minutes before they must perform. Usually, the judges award perfect scores across the board. Who knows what the rest of the program will hold until the final moments when one couple will hold the Mirror Ball trophy aloft while confetti and streamers rain down on all. Who do you think should take home the trophy?
Celebrities and their scores:
Melissa & Tony: (samba) 10; 10; 10 = 30 + (freestyle) 10; 10; 10 = 30 = total 60
Kelly & Val: (paso doble) Carrie Ann, 9.5; Len, 10; Bruno, 10 = 29.5 + (freestyle) 10; 9.5; 10 = 29.5 = total 59
Shawn & Derek: (quickstep) 9; 8.5; 9.5 = 27 + (freestyle) 10; 10; 10 = 30 = total 57