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Dancing With the Stars recap: 'The Semi-Finals'

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 3 days ago Maggie Fremont
Mark Ballas standing posing for the camera © Heidi Gutman/ABC

We’ve made it to the season 25 semi-finals, Dancing fam! Of course, we’ve only made it by the skin of our teeth: So many people are injured! There’s a whole mess of very serious-sounding leg injuries going around, and Jordan has a scratched cornea. Hold on kids, we only have one more week to go!

Before we get to the finals though, our top five will have to dance two routines: The first has the pros picking the song for their partners, and the second will be a tribute to an iconic DWTS dance that earned a perfect score in the past. Exciting, no? And then, of course, one couple will be asked to pack their dancing shoes and go. We all know who it should be, but after 25 seasons of Dancing With the Stars, we are all well aware that things don’t always go as planned. To the dances!

PRO SONG CHOICE ROUND

Drew Scott and Emma Slater

Tango, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

Determination and positivity. That’s what Emma hears when she listens to this Proclaimers jam, and that’s what comes to mind when she thinks of Drew. Drew is also very into this tune because the Proclaimers are Scottish, and so is he. Hence the kilt he’s sporting. When you’re in the semi-finals after weeks of riding the bottom of the leader board, might as well have fun with it. And that’s what Emma and Drew do in this tango that is very un-tango-like. Forget technique, posture, and artistry — just enjoy the ride! They may take away our mirrorballs, but they’ll never take our freedom…to do embarrassing things on live television!

Judges’ Score: 24/30

Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy

Contemporary, “To Build a Home” by Cinematic Orchestra feat. Patrick Watson

Talk about a tonal shift, DWTS. From grown men dancing tango while wearing kilts to possibly the most moving performance of the season. For this contemporary, Val wants to tell Victoria’s story through the eyes of her parents. Is it just an excuse to do a trio dance with his girlfriend Jenna Johnson? IDK and IDC. It is gorgeous. After the Arlens were given Victoria’s diagnosis, they moved her into their living room, and that living room became their world, so that is where the routine takes place. I’m tearing up again just thinking about it! Carrie Ann is pleased to see Victoria and Val took her note of having Victoria open up more — tonight, she saw Victoria emoting. Who knows what else is happening because I am still weeping.

Judges’ Score: 27/30

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold

Argentine Tango, “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATHE feat. Gavin DeGraw

A rare misstep from Jordan and Lindsay. I mean, they still get a 28 from the judges, but something is definitely off. Lindsay has picked this song for her partner because being an older brother to his siblings means so much to him. She also wants to celebrate the sibling relationship they’ve formed as partners. After the routine, Linds gets choked up talking about how much Jordan means to her and it is so sweet and sincere. Unfortunately, the song and the story don’t fit the style of dance. Len isn’t happy. He understands “theme nights” but this is a dancing show. It was too big for Argentine tango, and it lacked the passion of the dance. Carrie Ann is disappointed, which we all know is way worse than someone being angry with you.

Judges’ Score: 28/30

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas

Contemporary, “Head High” by Alexander Jean

Mark chooses a song by Alexander Jean, which is his and his wife’s band. You get yours, Mark Ballas. Synergy is a real thing. Mark wants this contemporary to honor Lindsey’s perseverance, her commitment to being who she is, and wind machines. It has something for everyone! It’s not as emotionally affecting as Victoria and Val, but man are these two in sync. The judges love the athleticism and Lindsey’s quality of movement. Carrie Ann calls her something like a deep blood earth mama, and I don’t know what that is but all I want in my life now is for Carrie Ann to tell me that I’m one. It’s not Lindsey’s best dance, but even her average dances are better than most.

Judges’ Score: 29/30

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson

Salsa, “Shake” by Yin Yang Twins and Pitbull

Finally, a celebrity hears the song selected by their pro partner and asks, “What?” Also, “WHY?” Well, Witney and Frankie are the cutest, so when she says “Shake” by the Yin Yang Twins is who Frankie Muniz is on the inside, we cannot doubt her. She choreographs a clever little salsa that takes place on a boy band’s paradise: the local basketball court. Frankie dances with the troupe, seduces Witney (where can I get that bejeweled wonder of an outfit?), does a slo-mo slam dunk, and reveals his abs to all of America. Was America asking for that? No. But that’s life. From the get-go, we all knew Len would find this routine lacking in traditional salsa, but all the judges agree that Frankie gives it his all on the dance floor. It may be to mixed results, but it is his all nonetheless.

Judges’ Score: 25/30

ICONIC DANCE ROUND

Drew Scott and Emma Slater

Iconic Dance: Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff with Witney Carson, Season 17

Jazz, “Yeah!” by Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris

Here’s a frightening sentence to hear: “If we can pull it off, it’ll be great. If we can’t pull it off, it’ll be, like, hospitalization.” Oh, Emma. Brave Emma. Drew is in his head about trying to copy Corbin (can’t be done, dude), and Emma is trying to get her partner to realize he needs to make this jazz routine iconic in his own way. By which she means putting in a bunch of crazy lifts that could end with her head colliding with the ballroom floor. I don’t know about you, but I spent the entire time waiting for that big lift to happen, so I’ll have to take the judges’ word for it when they tell Drew that there’s just no precision in his movements. I mean, they’ve been telling him to work on his technique for weeks, so I definitely believe it.

Judges’ Score: 24/30

Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy

Iconic Dance: Amber Riley and Derek Hough, Season 17

Charleston, “Bang Bang” by will.i.am

Well, if Victoria was feeling pressure to learn how to act and perform in her routines before, she is most definitely feeling the pressure once she’s saddled with an Amber Riley and Derek Hough routine from season 17. Amber was a capital P Performer. Victoria really has to get rid of her (understandable) habit of looking down at her feet, and dance her little behind off. It works for the judges! Carrie Ann says she forgot they were paying tribute to Amber and Derek, and that’s not easy to do. This is a dance all their own. And the best part? All three of the judges commend Victoria for the performance value. Mission accomplished, V & V.

Judges’ Score: 29/30

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold

Iconic Dance: Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas, Season 22

Jive, “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner

Have you caught your breath yet? I mean, from when Paige and Mark did this routine in season 22. Remember that, you guys? SO FAST. If anyone can take this, as Carrie Ann puts it, “marathon of a jive” on, it’s Jordan. Are his legs actually attached to his body? I WANT PROOF. Jordan and Lindsay are going to make this dance their own, but they definitely want to include the double cartwheel. Who doesn’t love double cartwheels? Even down one eye and one leg, Jordan and Lindsay crush this routine. When Len names a routine after you, as his does with “Jordan’s Jive,” you know you’ve made it. Some remakes are just better than the original.

Judges’ Score: 30/30

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas

Iconic Dance: Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Season 18

Tango, “Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris

It’s all coming back! The Maks! The Meryl! THE JUMPSUIT. Lindsey and Mark know they have to pay homage to the chemistry, the precision, and the artistry that was Maks and Meryl. It’s a tall order. At least Lindsey nails the jumpsuit. Okay, so she nails a lot of other things too. It’s not as precise and the chemistry isn’t quite as palpable, but Maks joins the team post-dance in the red room to remind us that art isn’t meant to be compared so…what are we all doing here anyway? Thanks for the existential crisis, Maks. The judges note that some of the turns aren’t quite as sharp as they should be and Len notes Lindsey’s loose posture, but overall it’s another win for our little violinist.

Judges’ Score: 28/30

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