CLEVELAND - The blood gets drawn on the final four showdown of “Dancing with the Stars.”
No, seriously. In rehearsal, Zendaya accidentally whacked Val in the eye with her elbow and split his eyebrow. Thanks to footage cutaways, we see the blood pouring down his face.
But he’s okay to perform, so let’s recap a night of great dancing.
The four remaining couples of season 16 each have three dances to perform Monday night, the first being judges’ choice. The judges pick a dance, which the couples already performed this season, that they feel the couples can improve upon.
First up, NFL star Jacoby Jones and Karina with a jive. Judge Len Goodman stops by their practice and teaches Jacoby how not to dance pigeon-toed. The dance is active, Jacoby’s feet are better in some places, stiff in others. Yet again, his preposterously long limbs are well-suited for the jive kicks. But for the finals, I’m not wowed with his jive; there have been some jaw-dropping jives in previous finals. Len says he saw slightly crisper footwork, but Jacoby got excited and lost technique at times. Judge Bruno Tonioli says Jacoby has charisma but missed the beat and went flat-footed. Bruno also calls Len Galdalf and Len calls Bruno Frodo. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba says Jacoby’s feet still need improvement. Score: 27 out of 30.
Olympian Aly Raisman and Mark are reworking their samba. Bruno visits them and says he wants Aly to push herself for more challenging technique, including samba rolls. Aly comes out jiggling and looking joyous – a far cry from the composed girl at the start of the season. A comfortable and coy personality oozes out of her performance now. Her feet are sharp, hand placements good, moves hit well, and all accented by lots of gyrating. Bruno says Aly did everything he asked for. Carrie Ann says Aly has all the characteristics of her final three competitors. Len says Aly is on the way up. Score: 28.
Country singer Kellie Pickler and Derek redo their quickstep. Len instructs them how to keep contact. The number is Old Hollywood (which we know always works out). It’s so fun to watch that I can’t tell if they get off beat. Kellie nails some impressive kicks and flicks in the second half, and the crowd really loves it. Len loves the excitement and their changing the rhythm. Bruno calls it a technical tour de force of content. Carrie Ann said she saw the improvement she was looking for. Score: perfect 30.
Disney star Zendaya and Val rework their samba. Carrie Ann coaches Zendaya to use strength to nail the moves. Zendaya and Val have electric energy in a dance that is much harder than it looks. She has great footwork at times and her lines are amazing. Carrie Ann says Zendaya lost nothing in the dance. Len calls her dance show-stopping. Bruno calls her incredibly fierce with a natural flamboyancy that comes without effort. Score: perfect 30.
Time for the second dance of the night: the cha cha relay. Each couple performs during the same song, one after another, for about 40 seconds. Kellie and Derek are first with some good spins and hip action. She once again proves how flexible she is. Jacoby and Karina take over the dance with him jumping over Kellie and Derek. They are smooth but not amazing. Aly and Mark step into the dance with great lines and she still looks joyous. Aly nails the tone of the dance with the way she hits certain moves. Zendaya and Val end the number by looking smooth and sharp at the same time. The shapes she makes are awesome.
The judges score them this way: Jacoby in fourth place with two extra points; Aly in third place with three extra points; Kellie in second place with four extra points; Zendaya in first place with five extra points.
Onto the final dance of the night – and the ever-popular fan favorite – the freestyle.
Jacoby and Karina are up first again, and he wants their freestyle to represent his hometown of New Orleans. Wearing outfits straight from a Prince band in the ‘80s and stepping to a marching band, Jacoby and Karina hit the floor, stomping and tapping. The raucous energy and street vibe are perfectly suited to Jacoby’s personality. In fact, it’s the energy that comes through because it is not the most amazingly technical dance. Len says Jacoby got the freestyle party started. Bruno says it was like watching Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street. Carrie Ann says the number outshined Jacoby because he should have been the star but got lost in the shuffle. Score: 27, 56 overall.
Jacoby tweeted, “I kno we not gonna let the judges hold us down........... Lets make history and let the votes from my people decide....... #TeamKaroby .”
Aly and Mark are back. He wants a futuristic performance involving what could be called stripper poles. When Mark is spinning on them in practice, we learn his pants are split. Mark wants Aly to do an acrobatic dance on vertical poles on a raised platform. They start contemporary using acrobatic strength moves. Aly almost loses her footing on one flip. Once they get off the floor