The final three face off on Day 1 of the Dancing with the Stars final as they perform a redemption dance and the much-anticipated freestyle numbers. Who nailed both? Who underwhelmed? Find out below!
It's finals time, people! And for the first time ever, couples may have to do up to four dances over two days. Day 1 kicks off with a redemption dance chosen by the judges — which pairs will have to perform with new choreography to new music — and then the freestyle, which we know can make it or break it for couples. I'm still not quite sure where Marie Osmond's living-doll nightmare ranks among there.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chermkovksiy: Samba
Lest we forget, in their first samba, Maks stripped and Len was not a fan, so basically Maks must keep his clothes on this time around. Bruno drops by rehearsals to offer some pointers. He wants Erin to loosen her hips and tighten her legs. "Look at the ass!" he screams. Maks does not strip this time around (boo! -- but expected). Erin is going for it. The confidence level is sky-high and her footwork is quick and sharp. The booty shakes are pretty hot too, but there is a lack of samba rolls and her posture is still a tad loose. They end with a kiss for Len, who says he's always wanted to be kissed by a man with a beard. He thanks Maks for not taking his clothes off and says he loves the energy. Bruno says we got butt from Erin. Carrie Ann says she moved herself up three notches.
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya: Viennese waltz
Len visits to help Evan work on his chemistry with Anna, which he says was lacking in their original performance way back in Week 1. Evan's got a goofy grin on his face, but it's kind of endearing and there's a sweetness to the whole routine and his connection with Anna. But it's still not what I'd label "romantic." The routine is trademark Evan: gorgeous, fluid and elegant. It's also so incredibly fast that I fear he's going to trip up somewhere, but he doesn't. I love that Anna is throwing in more and more figure skating-like moves now. Bruno loves the lyricism and can feel the sparks. Carrie Ann calls it a beautiful, emotional, enchanting dream. Len thinks he collapsed a little bit on his standing leg, but thinks they did a great job overall.
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough: Rumba
Carrie Ann is left to mentor Nicole, who, of course, had her infamous "I'm an artist" meltdown after their first rumba. Carrie Ann wants to see Nicole vulnerable in the dance. This is leaps and bounds better than their first rumba. She's connected to the dance and the mood. It's sensual, seductive (thought I guess the red lingerie helps) and full of controlled restraint, which is something you don't see a lot in Nicole the Performer. Her footwork is also cleaner, but she could use more hip action. There's far too much "posing" going on. Did Edyta help choreograph this? I kid, I kid. They end with a crazy cross-leg lift. Carrie Ann says she was mesmerized, but calls them out for their lift before the music ended. Len loves the subtleties of the choreography, but felt a lack of confidence here and there and wants her to settle more into her hip. Bruno calls it eroticism and romance woven into something of extreme beauty.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chermkovksiy
Maks wrote on his blog that their freestyle is going to be different. How different? They're going for a contemporary lyrical dance — with some help from choreographer Mandy Moore — as opposed to the typical hip-hop-py ones past couples have done. Maks calls it passionate, emotional and that it "tells the story of Erin and I." That story includes a couch and a bed! The dance in a nutshell: They basically roll around a bed the whole time, tossing and turning, you know, the whole bit. The dancing itself was beautiful at times, especially the turns and spins. But coupled with the frenetic, push-pull nature of the number, some of it comes off unpolished. The routine was a huge risk, but I think it was worth it overall. Len says it was a mix of emotion and commotion. Bruno calls it a psychodrama unfolding and loves some of the steps she pulled off. Carrie Ann calls it the perfect choice and thinks they only had one mistake on the bed. "It wasn't the bed we rehearsed on," Maks says.
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya
Evan and Anna can't decide how they want their freestyle to look. She says she'd rather do 100 paso dobles and jives than one freestyle because the freestyle is the make-it-or-break-it dance. I didn't see Season 2, but I've heard that Anna really dropped the ball with her freestyle with Jerry Rice, so you can't blame the girl for her worries, right? She starts crying as Evan leaves for the rink. "To be continued..." flashes the title card. Oh, fabricated drama! Anna brings in choreographer Bobby Newberry to help them find middle ground and they're both finally happy. Evan appears to have borrowed the dork-tastic outfit from his buddy (and birthday boy) Mark. They're dancing to "Footloose" and they're definitely cutting it up. It's high-energy, fun and almost spastic. Evan is hitting all the marks, but there's something off about the whole routine. Maybe that "middle ground" wasn't such a good idea. Bruno calls him demented (in a good way), but he doesn't want Evan to lose his slickness. Carrie Ann calls it odd and wants them to match their lines. Len says they took the path of least resistance and it wasn't what he wanted to see.
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Derek says the routine is going to be nonstop from start to finish. They're doing lifts he's never done before, but he wants to do it for Nicole. Well, it is nonstop, as advertised. This is like a hodgepodge of every single type of dance ever, and naturally, Nicole is killing it — all flash, all the time. There's lots of tangling and eventually stripping for both. It's a very high-octane and well-executed number, but there's something not entirely memorable or original about it, like, say Erin and Maks'. I'm actually having visions of Shawn and Mark's freestyle from last year as they continue flicking and kicking here. It's all going great until the final lift when Derek nearly drops her. There goes any hopes of a 10. Carrie Ann calls it fantastic and says the slip "killed" her. Len loves the different types of dances mixed in. Bruno says they've pushed the bar and defends the slip because they were trying to do something that has never been done. Uh, really? He just lifted her upside-down on his shoulder.
That leaves Erin and Nicole tied at the top and Evan bringing up the rear.
Remember: On Tuesday, everyone will do a repeat dance (all of them have chosen the Argentine tango) before one couple is eliminated. Then the final two perform one last dance.
What did you think? Did anyone redeem themselves? Did the freestyles underwhelm you? Was Erin and Maks' risky and risqué bedroom number worth it? Were you bummed to see Anna cry? Do you think Nicole and Derek would've gotten 10s if not for the slip? What (whose?) bed do you think Maks and Erin rehearsed on? Who do you think will win Dancing? Sound off below!
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