The four remaining contestants on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” pulled out all the stops tonight in their final bid to win the mirror ball trophy, performing three routines, including the all-important freestyle.
At the end of the night, Zendaya was in the lead and Jacoby Jones was in last place.
The fourth-place couple will be eliminated within the first hour of the results show Tuesday, and in a final element of the competition, the three remaining couples will perform a new routine in an instant dance. The routine will be scored out of 30 and will round out the judges’ scores for both nights.
The star with the highest combined tally of judges’ scores and viewers’ votes will be the winner.
At the end of tonight’s show, co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke announced that there was some trouble with voting on ABC.com. They encouraged people to call in their votes, adding that fans could also vote on Facebook until Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT.
For the first routine, judges picked a style of dance each star had previously performed, asking them to re-do it and improve upon it. The second routine was a cha-cha relay — in which all the stars danced, earning between 2 and 5 extra points depending on their ranking from judges. The third dance was the freestyle.
Jacoby Jones: For his first dance, the jive, the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver had some special advice during rehearsals from head judge Len Goodman, who advised him to make his kicks sharp and crisp. Judges saw improvement in Jones’ kicks during the performance tonight, but they said the routine had a few flaws. “The footwork was a bit better … you got excited on occasion and you lost it but overall I’ve got to say, I saw that slightly crisper footwork,” Goodman said. Bruno Tonioli told Jones he always brought a “limitless supply of energy and power” but said he missed the beat “quite a few times” and also went flat-footed. Carrie Ann Inaba told Jones he “always brought the swagger” and was always exciting to watch. Judges awarded Jones 27 out of a possible 30 points.
In the cha-cha relay, judges ranked Jones in fourth place. He earned two points.
Jones’ tap dance-inspired supersized freestyle came with help from several other dancers on the ballroom floor, and while judges commended the upbeat, celebratory air, they also found flaws. While Tonioli said the routine was “like watching a Mardi Gras parade down Bourbon Street,” he noted that Jones lost timing a few times, and Inaba thought the production was good but she felt that it overshadowed Jones. “That’s the sad part. I wanted you to be the star,” she said. Goodman thought the routine had great energy. Jones earned 27 points.
Aly Raisman: The Olympic gymnast had special coaching advice from Tonioli, who walked her through performing the samba roll, a difficult move, for her first dance. Her samba wowed the judges. Tonioli said she did everything he asked for and that she was “prettier than ever, and cleaner and slicker than ever.” Inaba told her she had the musicality and sensuality, swagger and beautiful lines of her fellow finalists, while Goodman commended her improvement on basic steps as well as her sexy moves. While he said the routine was “a little bit heavy in the legs on occasion,” he said the performance was terrific. Raisman earned 28 points.
In the cha-cha relay, Raisman was ranked in third place, picking up three points.
Her supersize freestyle was a futuristic performance that unfolded with Raisman — and partner Mark Ballas — dancing on poles to showcase her gymnastic ability. Judges were impressed. Inaba said it was “one of the most amazing routines” she’d seen in a finale freestyle, and Goodman said he loved the concept, adding that it had “great imagination.” Tonioli told Raisman that she took “an incredible risk.” The risk paid off. Raisman earned a perfect score, 30 points.
Kellie Pickler: The country music star performed the quickstep for her first dance, with guidance from Goodman in practice. Pickler had danced the quickstep before and Inaba said she didn’t see enough body contact. The ballroom audience loved Pickler’s routine tonight, standing and giving her prolonged applause. Inaba also approved, saying the performance had the body contact she wanted to see. Tonioli told Pickler the routine was, technically, “a tour de force. You could not have put in more content if you tried … it really is fantastic.” Pickler earned 30 points, a perfect score.
In the cha-cha relay, Pickler was ranked in second place, earning four points.
Pickler’s stunning contemporary freestyle routine brought her another enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience and a hug from a teary-eyed Inaba. ”Kellie, you just bared your soul on the dance floor and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Thank you,” Inaba said. Goodman also stood to applaud for Pickler, telling her the routine drew everyone in. Tonioli called the routine “a dance of spellbinding beauty.” Pickler earned another perfect score.
Zendaya: The season’s youngest competitor had a visit from Inaba during rehearsals for her first dance, the samba, and she got some pointers from the judge. Inaba called the 16-year-old Disney star’s performance tonight “magical,” while Goodman said: “That was eye-popping, show-stopping, jaw-dropping — that’s a samba!” Added Tonioli: “You’re just incredibly fierce, child … you have a natural flamboyance that’s so easy. It comes out without effort.” Zendaya earned 30 points.
Zendaya won the cha-cha relay, earning 5 points.
Zendaya’s freestyle, with elements of contemporary, cha-cha and hip hop, ended with several young dancers joining her and partner Val Chmerkovskiy on the ballroom floor. Goodman liked the variety of styles in the performance. “There were so many parts to that number but it all came together and created a fabulous routine,” he said. Tonioli said what he loved about Zendaya was that she brought a “unique luminosity” to everything she performed. Inaba added: “Way to take us home! I mean, this is a fantastic night of incredible dancing and you brought it home. You sealed the deal.” Zendaya earned another perfect score of 30 points.
The Scores (First dance, second dance, freestyle dance, grand total)
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy: 30, 5, 30. Total: 65
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 30, 4, 30. Total: 64
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: 28, 3, 30. Total: 61
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 27, 2, 27. Total: 56