LOS ANGELES - Part one of a two night "Dancing with the Stars" finale packed six routines into one short hour.
The final three couples first performed a redemption dance. That's one routine they've previously done but the judges want to see how they've improved over the course of the season. Then it was the always fun, no-holds-barred, shoot-for-the-moon freestyle.
Here's a rundown of the night's scores, from highest to lowest:
Rashad Jennings: Redemption dance: 40 out of 40; Freestyle: 40 out of 40. Total: 80 out of 80
Rashad and Emma had a touchdown on their redemption Viennese waltz. He was joking that he's never actually won anything; he's always been a runner-up, just behind first place. That's why he wants the mirror ball more than anything! They are assigned the dance they did in the second week, the Viennese waltz, and Rashad is determined to show the judges he now has what it takes to be graceful and in sync, and master his footwork. Head judge Len Goodman said he saw improvement on every level of the dance; Carrie Ann Inaba appreciates his pursuit of perfection on every level; Bruno Tonioli thinks Rashad has turned into a polished diamond.
The diamond shone just as brightly for the freestyle routine. He told Emma he wanted to help choreograph a bit of the final dance. His idea? A football-inspired drumline. He wanted to conjure up thoughts of a halftime party. With this guy it's always "game on" and the finale is no different. Bruno was blown away by the "Uptown Funk"; Carrie Ann told Rashad he's been holding out on them for these past weeks, he was that good; and Julianne called the routine iconic.
Normani Kordei: Redemption dance: 38 out of 40; Freestyle: 40 out of 40. Total: 78 out of 80
Normani and Val got to perform a "do-over" for their first dance of the competition, the quickstep. After reviewing it, Val acknowledged that their quickstep wasn't so quick! But Normani has come so far in these past 10 weeks that she knows she can show the judges she's improved. She rolled her ankle in rehearsal and it looked pretty painful, but Normani powered through. Julianne Hough called them the most consistent couple of the season, but admitted she wanted more body contact; Len agreed that it wasn't perfect and saw too much "running around." Both Bruno and Carrie Ann saw nothing but perfection and gave them 10s, with Inaba praising her fierce risk-taking.
Normani's freestyle had her and Val invoking the movement of angels. Both Len and Julianne called the dance breathtaking; Bruno admired the honesty and purity she brings to the ballroom; and Carrie Ann said Normani is in a class all her own. The 20 year old singer thanked everyone, and said she feels she is a different person now from when she first came into this competition.
David Ross: Redemption dance: 33 out of 40; Freestyle: 40 out of 40. Total: 73 out of 80
David says he honestly never imagined he'd make it to the finale. He fully understands he is here because of the fans and he's proud to represent them. He and Lindsay also do the Viennese waltz, and when they watch the video from week four he can pick out his mistakes. Len called his journey the Cinderella story of the season; Carrie Ann tells him people are drawn to him because it's easy to make a connection with him; Bruno said he completely gets why the people are totally behind him; and Julianne called him the "fans' man" and said he deserved to be here.
They go for a baseball-themed routine for the freestyle and plan to go for entertainment and performance over technical difficulty. Home run! The fans in the ballroom, as well as the judges, are all smiles after this fun dance. Len thought he knocked it out of the park; Julianne said the routine was exactly what the freestyle is meant to be; and Carrie Ann said this was David's personal best.
No one is eliminated on Monday night.
There's one more competitive dance on Tuesday. The couples will perform a new routine as part of a 24-hour fusion challenge. That means they will fuse two contrasting dance styles that they have performed this season. They are dancing for extra judges' points.
By the end of the night Tuesday, we'll have the latest mirror ball trophy winners.