Dancing With the Stars semifinals, you couldn’t have come at a better time.
In the wake of last Tuesday’s divisive presidential election, there was no form of entertainment more welcome than quasi-celebrities telling inspirational stories and dancing for a shiny trophy. Uplifting? Yes. A bit mindless? Yes. A much-needed distraction from politics? Abso-lute-ly.
It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, we were watching through our fingers as Jake T. Austin stumbled through his first Dancing routine, or cringing as Rick Perry was essentially dragged around the ballroom by Emma Slater.
Now, with just a week left until one pair snags the Mirrorball, Monday’s broadcast offered up 10 consecutive routines that were A) fun, b) emotionally stirring or C) very, very hot.
First, let’s rank the evening’s five duets:
5. Calvin Johnson and pro Lindsay Arnold (Tango) — Does Lindsay have some sort of Dancing curse? Last season, when it seemed that she and Wanyá Morris were a lock for the finale, the Boyz II Men singer tripped on Lindsay’s scarf during a pivotal number, causing him to fall out of step and, later, get eliminated. Something very similar happened on Monday (though Calvin’s place in the finale is less certain), as Lindsay and the NFL pro stumbled during a series of turns. It may have been Lindsay’s dress that got in the way, or perhaps the duo simply ran out of room on the ballroom floor to finish their movements. Regardless, on a night when every couple was at the top of their game, Lindsay and Calvin’s fumble — ha, football pun! — stood out. Judges’ Score: 26/30
4. Jana Kramer and pro Gleb Savchenko (Quickstep) — Nothing was wrong with Jana and Gleb’s quickstep; their footwork was precise, their energy was high and the entire routine was a delight to watch. But Jana performs best when she’s emotionally connected to her performance, and without a meaningful storyline, this quickstep ranks among her more forgettable dances. Judges’ Score: 28/30
3. Terra Jolé and pro Sasha Farber (Rumba) — Usually, the word “rumba” is code for, “This routine will be very sexy.” And while Terra did bring a certain sensuality to her movements, she also managed to make the typically-romantic dance style very moving. She and Sasha may not be able to pull off the insane, acrobatic choreography of their competitors, but their respect and adoration for each other has never been more evident. Judges’ Score: 30/30
2. James Hinchcliffe and pro Sharna Burgess (Argentine Tango) — It wasn’t enough for Sharna to just bounce back from a knee injury. No, she had to demand a spot in the finale by going the extra mile, and she did just that by performing this passionate, intricate number while blindfolded. But even with one of her senses temporarily gone, Sharna maintained an electric chemistry with James, gluing her body to his for one of the evening’s most captivating routines. Judges’ Score: 29/30
1. Laurie Hernandez and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Foxtrot) — Laurie is one strong young woman, and I’m not just talking about her insane balance-beam prowess. Just days after her Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother passed away (and feeling full of regret that she didn’t fly home one last time to be with her), Laurie turned in a foxtrot that was as emotionally charged as it was technically perfect. When Laurie had a second to compose herself on the dance floor, she took that opportunity to wipe away tears. The moment her performance ended, she immediately began crying into Val’s chest. And yet, despite all of her grief — or perhaps because of it — the young gymnast delivered her most memorable, and authentic, performance to date. Judges’ Score: 30/30
The five semifinalists also performed trio dances with the help of pros Jenna Johnson, Artem Chigvintsev, Alan Bersten, Witney Carson and Maks Chmerkovskiy. Spoiler alert: They all got 30s.
And now, your results:
ADVANCING TO FINALS (in the order they were called)
Laurie Hernandez and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
James Hinchcliffe and pro Sharna Burgess
Jana Kramer and pro Gleb Savchenko
Calvin Johnson and pro Lindsay Arnold
Terra Jolé and pro Sasha Farber
Your turn! Were Terra and Sasha the right choice for elimination? And which of the four finalists will be getting your vote? Hit the comments with all of your thoughts on Monday’s episode!