Monday night on “Dancing with the Stars” was the first of a two-part season finale. It’s in this finals round where the famous freestyle dances take place. Some seasons have had its ups and downs. Season 17 delivered with an all-out extravaganza where a number of finalists utilized backup dancers. It was worth the nearly 90-minute wait to see Amber, Bill, Corbin, and Jack bring out the very best they had to offer. In the meantime viewers had to wade through two rounds of dances, the judges pick and the relay. Reigning champion of Season 16 Kellie Pickler performed her latest single release to kick off the finals. Kellie was seen throughout the competition giving her commentary on each round to Brooke Burke-Charvet.
First up with the judge’s dance, each one selected a couple who could improve upon a dance that wasn’t their best. Needless to say three of the couples still struggled. Amber and Derek received a perfect score for their Charleston. At the midway point TLC was another musical guest performing “No Scrubs,” while teams of two performed a samba relay dance. Finally, it was the all-important freestyle round that has made this show so popular. Bill and Emma paid tribute to Indiana Jones with a brilliant reenactment of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Bill certainly knew how to work that rope into his routine. It was cheesy, but a whole lot of fun too.
Corbin and Karina went all out by paying homage to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” They enlisted the aid of MJ’s choreographer, Travis Payne. After working with the dancers from the “Michael Jackson One” show in Las Vegas, Corbin and Karina decided to use backup dancers. Their freestyle routine featured certain elements seen in the stellar “Smooth Criminal” music video. It was highly entertaining and exciting to watch. Len Goodman gave them a standing ovation afterwards.
Jack and Cheryl’s freestyle was straight out of an old Hollywood musical from the 1930s. This was the most impressive freestyle of the night, because of its expert use of backup dancers, synchronized choreography, and exquisite costumes. The music and sets capped it off to perfection. Jack and Cheryl received their first perfect score of 30.
Closing out the freestyles were Amber and Derek dancing a western saloon style step routine. What was most impressive, and something not seen in a freestyle before, Amber being out in front for most of the time. She completely danced solo with Derek and the other dancers right behind her. Sadly, someone had to be eliminated, and not surprising, it was Bill Engvall. Tuesday night will be one more challenge for the three remaining finalists, the fusion dance. The mirror ball trophy will be awarded at the end.