The celebrity contestants of “Dancing With the Stars” gave it their all last night, in a final shot at impressing the judges before tonight’s winner is revealed.
While finalists Joey Fatone, Apolo Anton Ohno and Laila Ali each performed well, Ohno and partner Julianne Hough ended up with the high score of 58 out of 60 when all was said and done.
The judges’ choice of a Rumba for Apolo proved to be a good one, as he received two scores of nine, along with a perfect ten from judge Bruno Tonioli. But it was his second dance that truly knocked the judges’ socks off, inspiring Carrie Ann Inaba to jump up and hug both Ohno and Hough.
“Well, the Apolo syndrome has taken hold of the country,” said Bruno after Ohno’s second dance. “Great ideas, what a freestyle should be.”
Apolo and Julianne received a perfect score of 30 from the judges on their freestyle.
Joey Fatone and partner Kym Johnson performed the judges’ choice of a Cha Cha for his first dance, but didn’t quite hit the mark as far as the judges were concerned. Bruno called it “cheeky,” and agreed with Len Goodman that it felt more like a freestyle than a Cha Cha.
Joey upped his game on his second dance — a freestyle — receiving a perfect score of 30. “You flew off that stage like Harry Potter. It was full of energy. I wish we had more than a 10 to give,” said Len in his critique. Joey’s final combined score was 56 out of 60.
Laila Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy came in last place for the evening, with a combined total of 55 out of 60 for their two dances, but Laila still bowled over the judges with her talent, grace and emotion - despite her confession to Access that her knees are in great pain.
“This was like a tidal wave of passion and drama,” said Bruno of her judges’ choice dance (a Paso Doble). “Best performance to date as an actress.” The other two judges agreed, granting her the near-perfect score of 29 out of 30.
Her second dance, a freestyle, earned her a 26. Len was disappointed that the dance didn’t feature the “elegance and sophistication” that he feels are her strengths over the other two finalists. Carrie, however, loved her “fly girl moves.”
It’s anyone’s game in tonight’s finale, as viewer votes will combine with the judges’ scores to award the winner the coveted disco ball trophy.
But as Apolo told Access after the show, it’s more about the journey than the actual win: “You know what? I feel I already won just getting to this point. Just because everything I’ve overcome — all the obstacles, long days and frustrations. It’s just a good time.”