It was a celebration of the “Most Memorable Year” for the celebs on “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday night’s show, except for one contender.
Billy Dee Williams was unable to dance, due to back problems, and he will no longer compete with pro Emma Slater in “DWTS” Season 18.
The exit of Billy Dee meant that no one was eliminated.
For those who competed, the evening was full of emotions, as the stars — with their partners — celebrated loved ones, their personal triumphs, and getting through tough times.
One of the most moving performances of the night came from Amy Purdy and pro Derek Hough, as they looked back on 1999.
Amy lost her legs and her kidney function after contracting bacterial meningitis and she credited her father for saving her life. He gave her a kidney and he helped inspire her to carry on.
“The choreography of this dance tells the story of my journey of what I went through – falling, and my dad being there to catch me,” Amy said. “I cannot put into words how grateful I am. That is why we are doing this dance. This dance is a tribute to the gift of life that he’s given me.”
Wearing a special pair of artificial feet for the number (ones that could point), Amy would fall gracefully into Derek’s arms as their moves represented her battle back. At the end of the incredibly moving number, Amy’s dad had tears in his eyes, and the two embraced. The studio audience also gave her a standing ovation.
“There won’t be a dry eye in the country tonight ‘cause that was so heart wrenching, yet it was inspirational and life affirming,” Bruno Tonioli told Amy. “You really transcended. It was a message of universal value. Borderline miraculous.”
Guest judge Robin Roberts (of “GMA”) was similarly moved.
“There are not enough superlatives. There just simply are not and I hope that you know what you are doing for people when they see you dance every week,” Robin said. “I hope you are feeling that love and to see you walk for the first time again, and dance for the first time again, anyone who is facing a challenge, you are letting them know that they too — we too — can begin again anew. Thank you.”
The pair earned straight 9s from the panel, for a total score of 36 out of 40.
Another standout performance came from Meryl Davis and pro Makism Chmerkovskiy, who put forth a steamy dance floor foxtrot that netted them a near perfect 39 out of 40.
The two nearly locked lips in the routine, which celebrated not one year, but Meryl’s 17-year journey with ice dancing partner Charlie White.
“I burst into tears in the middle of that routine because it was just so beautiful,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba said of their routine. “You are something like, out of this world extraordinary and you can tell because Maks is so inspired by you.”
Both Drew Carey and Danica McKellar picked years that celebrated their children. For “The Price Is Right” host Drew it was 2005, when his son, Connor was born, and for Danica it was 2010, when her little one Draco came into the world (and she lost her beloved grandmother).
At the end of Drew and partner Cheryl Burke’s dance (which earned 30 points), Connor came on stage, and asked for some ballroom training.
“I think he did really good,” Connor said of his dad. “And I need her to teach me some of those moves.”
And for Danica, the noise of the crowd scared her little boy, who was seated in the audience. To comfort him, she picked him up and held him close while she and Val Chmerkovskiy listened to the judges, later taking home 36 points for their beautiful contemporary number.