Finalists chosen for Season 21 of ‘Dancing With The Stars’

After an evening of dance filled with energy and emotion, one of the four DWTS semifinals went home. Find out who it was.

Which of the four DWTS semifinals will compete for the Mirror Ball Trophy Tuesday, and who went home Monday? Photo: ABC
Which of the four DWTS semifinals will compete for the Mirror Ball Trophy Tuesday, and who went home Monday? Photo: ABC

SAN DIEGO, November 23, 2015 – Judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough, and Bruno Tonioli said after Monday night’s semifinals of Season 21 on “Dancing With The Stars” it was one of the most emotional, heartfelt seasons ever on the series.

Yes, it’s “just” a reality competition TV program. But over and over again, the stars who take it to heart and take it seriously all say it changes their lives, and often their careers. This is why it has survived so many other competition shows on television.

The judges scores are so close, it would come down to fan votes to decide the finalists. If you want to know, scroll to the end of our recap column to find out.

In the first round, all four couples repeated a dance style the judges chose for them to improve on from their first performance. Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson danced a Foxtrot as steamy as a Tango. The judges loved it, and handed over the first perfect score of the night.

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold had the toughest assignment of this round with a Rumba. Alek did improve on his first score, but this is a notoriously difficult dance for the male competitors. He still scored an admirable 27 points.

The remaining pairs also perfected their routines and received perfect scores. Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess danced a Jive which was smartly choreographed to show off Nick’s sharpness. Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough danced a Quickstep full of sass and the joy Bindi has shown all season.

When it came time for the Freestyle Round, it isn’t giving anything away to say up front that every single routine received a perfect score of 30 points. This is the judges essentially abdicating their job to the fans. Fan votes will decide the winners on Tuesday night.

Who really deserved the perfect scores? Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough’s Contemporary routine was the most emotional Freestyle in 21 seasons of the show, bringing all thre judges and even hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews to tears. The tribute to Bindi’s late father Steve Irwin was dynamic and gentle at the same time, life affirming and hopeful. Bindi’s lines, toe point, and grace make her the front runner based on skill, and with the Emmy winning choreography of Derek Hough guiding her, she has been a revelation all season long. Steve Irwin’s photo with Bindi as a little girl appeared on screen at the very end, a surprise from Derek to Bindi who saw it for the first time we did.

See their Freestyle routine to “Footprints in the Sand” by Leona Lewis here.

Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough – Freestyle by Codebear2

Alek Skarlatos is the lone competitor left who has never been a performer or a dancer. He is the ordinary hero, and he is what the show is about at its heart to many of its most loyal, longtime fans. Pro partner Lindsay Arnold created a Contemporary routine depicting the obstacles in life you need to overcome. It was athletic and daring, but there was still plenty of dance content, right down to the death drop at the end. “No obstacle is too great when you have faith,” said Bruno Tonioli. Carrie Ann Inaba called it a routine people will talk about for years to come. It was well deserving of its perfect score.

Carlos PenaVega and Nick Carter both went for sheer crowd pleasing numbers. They were entertaining and well executed. But they played tricks to get votes. Carlos included former competitors Paula Deen, Hayes Grier, and his wife Alexa PenaVega in his hip hop routine with Witney Carson to win their fans to his side. The dance lacked real ballroom content, although Bruno Tonioli thought it was on trend and cheeky fun.

Nick Carter decided to go Backstreet or go home with a routine set to his hit “Larger Than Life.” The routine looked like something he has probably done in concert for decades. Enjoyable, yes. Impressive as a ballroom freestyle routine? Not so much. Julianne said she felt like a fan, whch is precisely the issue with it. Where’s the challenge?

With all the work out of the way, it came down to elimination time. The first finalists: Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold, the surprise of the night. Bindi irwin and Derek Hough made it through next.

So it was down to Nick and Sharna, and Carlos and Witney, with Carlos and Witney following his wife Alexa as the last two out of the competition before the finals.

The final three will dance one more repeat routine, and the infamous “24 Hour Fusion Dance” routine assigned at the end of Monday night’s show. Forget all that. The fan votes will choose the winner. One reason Alek Skarlatos gets a lot of votes is precisely because he IS a non-dancer and non-celebrity, and without question he has improved the most of any competitor on the show. Bindi Irwin isn’t a dancer either but she is completely at home in front of the camera. Nick Carter has been a performer and moving on stage as a singer his entire career, though to be fair ballroom dance requires different skills.

It would be a huge upset if anyone other than Bindi Irwin wins, giving Derek Hough a record six Mirror Ball Trophy wins. But it won’t happen if the fans don’t vote.

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Semifinals Results

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
Judges Choice: Quickstep: 10-10-10 = 30 points
Freestyle Routine: 10-10-10 = 30 points
Total: 60 points

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess
Judges Choice: Jive: 10-10-10 = 30 points
Freestyle Routine: 10-10-10 = 30 points
TOTAL: 60 points

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold
Judges Choice: Rumba: 9-9-9 = 27 points
Freestyle Routine: 10-10-10 = 30 points
TOTAL: 60 points

Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson
Judges Choice: Foxtrot: 10-10-10 = 30 points
Freestyle Routine: 10-10-10 = 30 points

Voting information: Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday night during the show and up to one hour after the end of the DWTS broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at and on Facebook at is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and closing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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