LOS ANGELES -- We're heading into the home stretch of season 23 of "Dancing with the Stars."
The final five couples get whittled down to four finalists for next week's two-night extravaganza. Each couple performed two dances, one of which was a "trio" routine. Yes dance fans that meant Laurie Hernandez in the ballroom with BOTH of the Chmerkovskiy brothers! And boy did she deserve that special moment. The Olympic champ had a heartbreaking week.
Here's a rundown of the judges scores, from highest to lowest:
Laurie Hernandez - 30 for foxtrot; 30 for trio samba = 60 total
There wasn't a dry eye in the ballroom, and probably not at home, when we saw Laurie's background story. She talked about how important her grandmother had been in her life; then went to go visit her in her assisted living home. A title card then tells us Laurie's grandma died the day after her visit. And THEN this 16-year-old learned an intricate routine and brought every ounce of her skill and emotion to the dance floor. She and Val absolutely earned their perfect score!
Bruno Tonioli told Laurie she was being guided by an angel; Julianne Hough felt her grandma was smiling down with tears of joy and pride; and Carrie Ann Inaba complimented her ability to channel everything into the dance. For the trio dance, Laurie and the Chmerkovskiys had the story behind their samba be a little like art imitating life. Their theme was a dance studio, with Maks being the task master and Laurie and Val their protégés. Bruno loved their theatricality; Julianne told Laurie she's truly a proper dancer at the point; and Carrie Ann spoke on behalf of all women who were thrilled to see the brothers dancing together.
Terra Jole - 30 for rumba; 30 for trio tango = 60 total
Julianne admitted she was worried that Terra would have a tough time with the rumba but was thrilled to say she was 100 percent proved wrong! The routine brought tears to Carrie Ann, who told Terra she takes her breath away. And Bruno praised her hip action and the amount of content Sasha Farber was able to get into their routine.
Terra tangoed with Sasha and Artem for her trio routine. She had fun in rehearsal letting us know that Sasha feels like her brother; but Artem is all sex appeal. The judges loved how well the male pro dancers were able to frame her so perfectly; Carrie Ann thought Terra slayed every move and Bruno called her a saucy vixen. All Julianne could do was sing "This girl is on fire!"
James Hinchcliffe - 29 for Argentine tango; 30 for trio jive = 59 total
James is reunited with his original partner Sharna Burgess after seeing her sit out two weeks on the injured list. Her choreography pushes the envelope with their Argentine tango, because Sharna's doing the dance blindfolded. The judges always talk about trusting your partner; this dance epitomized that phrase. James had one small misstep but, as the judges reminded him, this is the semifinal round so every little detail gets noticed.
Julianne said she likes that the duo doesn't shy away from taking risks; and Carrie Ann was pleased that they raised their own stakes and managed to surprise her with their dance. The couple's choice for the trio dance was a no-brainer. James had worked with Jenna for the two weeks that Sharna was sidelined. Their jive was fast and furious, and Bruno thought they were naturals as a trio; Carrie Ann agreed they were perfectly in unison.
Jana Kramer - 28 for quickstep; 30 for trio paso doble = 58 total
For Jana, these past 10 weeks have had little to do with dancing. For her it's been a path of redemption and her confidence has grown by leaps and bounds since week 1. Carrie Ann told Jana she thinks she's come the furthest in the competition, and praised her strength and openness; Bruno called her elegant and alluring; and Julianne was happy to see a "proper" quickstep.
Jana, along with Gleb and Alan, performed one of the most artistic routines we've ever seen. Gleb came up with a tree theme that was an unusual but beautiful concept. Carrie Ann said she was blown away by the artistry in motion; Julianne thought Jana showed us a fire we had not seen before; and Bruno called the routine high passion and high fashion but admitted he was under Jana's spell.
Calvin Johnson Jr. - 26 for tango; 30 for trio salsa = 56 total
Calvin's personality fills the ballroom and you can tell he is enjoying this ride. He's also as surprised as anyone that he's done so well! The tango was not completely successful for Calvin and Lindsay Arnold. Julianne felt there was a lot of content but one big boo-boo knocked them down a point; Bruno also saw a few stumbles but credited them with still going for it; and Carrie Ann gave them an "A" for effort.
Calvin and Lindsay redeemed their first-round missteps with a salsa that got everyone in the ballroom up on their feet. We saw quite a few very serious numbers this week so it was refreshing to see a dance that was just simply FUN. Witney joined in to round out their trio, and all three judges thanked them for bringing the light and energy onto the dance floor.
Everyone excelled during this semifinal round so it was going to be a brutal elimination no matter who got bumped.
Safe for another week: Laurie, James, and Jana. That leaves Terra and Calvin in jeopardy, but in the end, it was Terra's time to go home.
The big two-part season finale airs next Monday and Tuesday nights on ABC.
Week before finale, 'Dancing with the Stars' down to four couples
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