We’re down to the wire, ballroom fans.
In Monday’s round of “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” two-night finale extravaganza, the three remaining all-stars danced two full routines. The first was a repeat dance, in which each couple got to “do-over” a routine they had previously performed. The second was that deliciously unpredictable finale treat: the freestyle. Not just any freestyle, but supersize: in addition to all ballroom rules going out the window, each couple could bring in props and extra cast members and whatever else they could imagine to beef up their routines and give them that sparkly winning edge. So we were treated to a gospel choir, acrobats on cubes and a women’s gymnastics team -- it was like a smorgasbord of TV odds and ends.
And really, the Mirrorball could be anyone’s for the taking at this point. The three remaining couples are all so talented and have such different strengths. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani are extremely likeable: all clean lines, clean teeth, and great, clean lifts. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough are young and athletic with endless energy and creativity to match. Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy are kind of like the Rizzo and Kenickie of the group – great chemistry and great intensity, but what they really want to do is make out behind the bleachers. I go back and forth between Melissa and Shawn as my winning pick. Mostly because I think they’re the ones who most deserve it, but also because I feel like Kelly could walk away with Val and be just as happy.
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Continuing their hot streak were Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani. Not content to rest on their high-scoring laurels, the only couple remaining who has yet to win a Mirrorball trophy chose to do their Week 3 samba as a do-over. They received three 9s for the dance the first time around, so Melissa felt like she could perform it better. Tony wanted to show how far they’ve come. And really, it is quite endearing how much Tony want to go on in this competition. “I waited 14 seasons for this chance,” Tony said passionately. Aw, how could you not root for him to win it all? And in front of a glittery “FINALS” backdrop, Melissa and Tony really shook their best party dance to the Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine beat, and man, they looked like they were having a Brazilian blast. When the streamers came down in the end, it was as if they’d already won. “The deliciously irresistible Brazilian bombshell!” Bruno crowed. “What is good to see is your confidence. You’ve grown so much as a performer.” Carrie Ann said Melissa’s abs were ridiculous, along with her confidence. Len called Melissa a “Carnival queen” who “captured the party atmosphere of the samba.” And they captured a perfect 30 score as well.
Melissa said their biggest regret from Season 8 was not taking enough risks in their freestyle. So in their superstyle freestyle, Tony said he wanted to showcase Melissa’s softness and her beautiful lines. In other words: A contemporary routine! “Holy heavens to Betsy,” Melissa said adorably when being hoisted seven feet in the air while practicing their lifts. And the routine, set to Beyoncé’s “I Was Here,” was a great show of extension of lifts with acrobats on cubes twirling in the air and a smoky, starry background that evoked "Xanadu"-like hallucinations. The twisty, turny, lift-heavy routine had Tony pumping his arms in triumph even before it ended. “That really was the perfect setting to showcase all your extraordinary quality – fantastic extensions, beautiful lines,” Bruno said. “A gem. You were a gem.” Carrie Ann called it a “freestyle jackpot” — “you took such humongous risks, and with great risks comes great reward.” The routine made Len uncharacteristically emotional, and quoting Leonard Bernstein: “’When the passion’s too much to talk, sing. When the passion’s too much to sing, dance,’” quoted Len. “It was truly, … it was wonderful.” Melissa and Tony received a perfect 30 for their do-over samba, as well as a 30 for their freestyle. Total: 60 out of 60, and Tony doesn’t want this season to end.