Dancing with the Stars recap: Semi-Finals

Dancing with the Stars Recap: Semi-Finals

Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t watched the season 24 semi-finals, please scroll on down to the first set of contestants in bold. Those of us who did tune in last night need to process through a few feelings we have, thanks to a certain twist of events during the elimination announcements.

Seriously. Scroll down. I don’t want you to blame me for ruining it for you.

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I have thoughts about why Simone Biles was eliminated from the show.

Simone’s sass may have bitten her in the butt.

Did you see the judges’ reaction when Simone told Erin last week that “smiles don’t win gold medals?” I don’t think she planned on being snarky in her interview, but there was some bite to that comment. Even Julianne, who plays the role of a loving big sister, dropped her jaw.

Is Simone’s statement true? As an outsider looking in, I’d say yes. Gymnasts are taught to hide their emotions. She has been trained for years to stuff down her giggling personality during performances. Therefore, the minute she steps on the dance floor, muscle memory takes over and she plasters on a fake smile for the happy dances and the stoic look for the dramatic dances.

I understand that this is very hard to suddenly fix.

Humor me for a moment and consider this perspective: What are the judges constantly concerned about with each of the four remaining contestants?

Okay, Normani can do no wrong in their eyes, so I am going to omit her from this part of the discussion. I suspect most of you expected her to be in the finals.

We’ve determined that Simone’s flaw is her willingness to be real with her facial expressions. The judges want her to be raw and connect with Sasha.

David has an entire host of things he could fix. However, the latest harp is that he needs to tuck his butt in more.

Rashad’s feet have yet to earn him consistent high marks from Len.

The question remains: Can these be fixed?

Everyone can tell that Simone is an energetic doll who is loved by the entire Dancing with the Stars cast when she’s filmed behind the scenes. The judges see her darling facial expressions. One would assume that it’s likely she could tap into that in some form or fashion, which she did a little bit this episode, thanks to Carrie Ann’s wild and crazy dance session.

As a catcher, David has been trained for years to stick his butt out to help him balance behind home plate. You might say muscle memory takes over and his butt sticks out automatically when he dances. Julianne brings some lemons for David to tuck between his butt cheeks (hilarious). Guess what? His butt was better.

And Rashad has been playing football his entire life. He was trained to keep his toes up when running and scrambling. You might say muscle memory takes over and he automatically dances heel/toe instead of toe/heel.

My point is that they all have their “things” that keep them from performing the way the judges want them to. Rashad blames his football career in his package with Bruno. David blames his baseball career in his package with Julianne. Simone blames her gymnastics career in her interview with Erin.

So what was the difference?

I believe it is the delivery.

Rashad and David go about their business. It’s obvious they work hard and are having a good time. Winning Dancing with the Stars would be so cool to them. Not winning Dancing with the Stars will not break them. They are totally along for the fun ride.

Simone is a different story. I believe it was a mixture of exhaustion and the concrete walls of a glorified perfectionist being criticized on national television that set her apart. Simone’s fighting side (the same one that got her the Olympic gold) came out in that one sentence, and the non-gymnasts of the voting world retaliated.

People respond to a humble spirit. They are also very forgiving to humble spirits. Case in point? David. He is clearly not the best dancer, yet Cub Nation and thousands of other people have kept him around because he’s genuine, funny, and truly humbled to even be considered as a contender. He also constantly reminds everyone that he is not the best dancer.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Simone is sweet and kind, and we have to remember that week after week after week the judges constantly asked her to feel the dance in her face because EVERYTHING ELSE WAS PERFECT. Of course she blew up. I would have, too.

But think about it. Would the results have been different if Simone had said…

Smiling is hard for gymnast. (I think she did say that once or twice.)
Smiling is hard for a gold medalist. (Wink, wink.)
I’m smiling on the inside. Does that count? (Playful banter.)

Most will understand that she trained her entire life to be an Olympian with multiple gold medals. They love that she is young and naive. They appreciate that she tries hard in rehearsals to get the dance precisely right. We admire those who train hard! We were young and naive once! We stare in awe at her talent!

“Smiles don’t win gold medals.”

Record scratch.

The fact that she put herself above everyone else with that tiny little “gold medals” disclaimer was the kicker. Viewers don’t know what it’s like to be a gold medalist and don’t appreciate you throwing that fact in their face.

I have a theory that Sasha knew Simone’s comment was going to cause a rift. If you follow Dancing with the Stars on Instagram, you will see that he and Simone wore tank tops displaying the now infamous quote. Sasha and Simone desperately needed to change the perception that the statement was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. And maybe it was! I just can’t help but remembering the judges’ reactions. It certainly wasn’t received that way.

Poor Simone does break down in her rehearsal time with Sasha. For the first time in her life, she isn’t able to take the critique from the judges and improve her performance. Also, that one time she showed emotion on the balance beam, she received a bronze medal. This exercise to “find her face” has to be torturous for our favorite gymnast.

Alas, the damage had been done. America had already voted and David was chosen over Simone.

Is David the best dancer? No.
Is he a crowd favorite? Absolutely.

Some people are irritated that the best dancers aren’t in the finals. These are the same people who are irritated that Heather went home weeks ago. I get it. I tend to fall into that category. But if you listen closely to the judges, many of them say that David’s story is what this show is all about. Improvement. Fun. Crowd favorite.

Call me crazy, but David may win this entire shebang.

I can guarantee you that Normani and Rashad will give him a run for his money…

Normani and Val
Judge’s Challenge: Len
Viennese Waltz
“Desperado” by Rihanna
Len chooses Normani and Val during the judge’s challenge. He wants to make sure Val puts a ton of content into this waltz. He wants twelve bars in proper hold, a lovely frame, and lots of elegance. The producers try to make us think Normani trips all the time during rehearsals (we don’t buy it, producers) but of course Normani floats and flies across the dance floor in a gorgeous crimson red gown. The entire number was performed in black and white, excluding Normani’s dress. That distracted me because I kept waiting for the rest of the color to show up. Weird, I know. I’m weird. We all need to accept that. Although I personally didn’t see twelve bars of hold, and was too lazy to rewind, Len said he couldn’t have been happier. Sadly, Normani did trip once (SHE’S HUMAN!) so all the judges took off a point.
Bruno’s Best Line: “What a thriller, killer. You turned Vienna into Sin City.”
SCORE: 36

David and Lindsay
Judge’s Challenge: Julianne
Foxtrot
“You Make Me Feel So Young” by Michael Bublé
As I mentioned before, Julianne brings a few lemons for David to squeeze between his buns. It works for the most part. Lindsay wears an odd, barely-there dress that manages to be backless. It was a bit clunky, but that’s what we expect from David. The judges raved about his work ethic and his improvement, but the scores were where they should be. I’d also like to point out that the two girls gave David the exact same score as Normani. Crazy.
Bruno’s Best Line: “The citrus hit the spot! You continue to entertain us. Watching you is a joy.”
SCORE: 34

Global sensation Calum Scott performed next as Witney and Artem flailed about in grey cotton leotards from the ‘80s. The only thing I got out of this dance was a Google search for Calum and maybe a new Spotify station with his name on it.

Simone and Sasha
Judge’s Challenge: Carrie Ann
Jive
“Faith” by Stevie Wonder
I thought it was appropriate for Carrie Ann to be Simone’s helper judge because she’s the one who has been begging Simone to dance with her face. She also said that she appreciates what Simone said (the gold medal comment) because she was being honest. After a weird dance session, Sasha choreographs a fun, whimsical jive. Simone starts off with some cute facial expressions, then she morphs into plastic, but comes back around to winks and open mouths at the end. I didn’t love the dance. Nor did I love the arcade theme with the JV dancers in the back. They were superfluous in my opinion. Julianne made Simone choose a name for her jive character (Zoe) and all the judges applauded her for a fantastic routine.
Bruno’s Best Line: “Little Miss Perfect is letting it loose! Love the reckless, sassy attitude.”
SCORE: 40 — first perfect score

Rashad and Emma
Judge’s Challenge: Bruno
Rumba
“Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur
Bruno bursts through the rehearsal studio and “throws” a football to Rashad that lands somewhere east of where Rashad is standing. Bless it. He then teaches Rashad how to move his arms in a fluid motion. The rumba is challenging because it requires clean feet and hands. Not monster claws like what Rashad is currently giving Bruno. The dance is uneventful to me, probably because there are spotlights shining into my eyeballs the entire time. Worst TV blocking EVER. From what I could see, I think Rashad portrayed strength, elegance, and an open shirt made of the same material as Emma’s skirt. Julianne gives a nice compliment, praising Rashad for leading Emma through the rumba. It’s very hard for a pro female dancer to experience that in the competition, yet Rashad succeeded.
Bruno’s Best Line: “You are exceeding all expectations. You never cease to surprise me.”
SCORE: 38

Next up is two-time champion Cheryl Burke pimping out her own summer dance spectacular, “Love on the Floor.” It was a bunch of dudes with man buns shoving Cheryl through doors. According to Cheryl, this is what love is all about. For those of you keeping score, you can go see Cheryl’s show, Julianne’s show with her brother, or the Dancing with the Stars touring show this summer. Choose wisely!

Normani and Val
Jazz
“What a Wonderful World” by Ray Chew
In this segment of the show, contestants do everything they can to make us cry. Normani grew up in New Orleans. There she experienced her mother’s cancer and Hurricane Katrina. Her family got her through it all. I can say with extreme boldness that I love her grandmother. She gives advice on Normani’s costumes AND she kisses Val directly on the lips. L-O-V-E her.

Grandmama puts Normani in a fun, purple, fringe, sparkly number and Val throws everything into his choreography, except the kitchen sink. He took “jazz” as literal JAZZ and produced a dance that celebrated the New Orleans musical jazz scene. Every member of the JV troupe was there, but she didn’t need them. All eyes were on Normani. Len gives a standing ovation, which surprises the entire ballroom. Julianne praises her humility (see?) and Carrie Ann wisely assesses that Normani manages to be powerful in her moves, yet they are also effortless.
Bruno’s Best Line: “That’s how you do it in the Big Easy. Vibrant, exciting, colorful.”
SCORE: 40

(Skip to minute 3:55 for the dance if you don’t want to watch the interview.)

David and Lindsay
Tango
“Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran
David tells about the time that he was less than humble on the baseball field. Rumor got around that he wasn’t a team player, so he changed his way for good and started playing for his teammates instead of himself. When producers interviewed his mom, she started crying remembering the time her boy was carried off the field during the World Series. While that emotion still rings in the ballroom, Lindsay begins to tango around David in a scantily clad outfit. Although I didn’t love the music choice, David did a great job tucking his butt in. Carrie Ann took points off for Lindsay’s foot coming off the ground. Ugh.
Bruno’s Best Line: “In this one, you went for it like a torpedo in a tuxedo.”
SCORE: 36

SIDE NOTE: Do any of you think that one of the JV dancer dudes looks like Ryan Gosling?

Simone and Sasha
Rumba
“Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato
Simone talks about how her family sacrificed so much for her to become a gymnast. Mary Lou Retton thinks Simone is the best on planet Earth. What a compliment! Sasha choreographs a routine revolving around her gymnastics career. For a hot second I thought Simone was going to hop up on the balance beam in her high heels, but that didn’t happen. Instead she gyrates up on her partner wearing a gold bedazzled leotard with a sash around it. I don’t know if the gold sash represented gold or her partner Sash-a. Perhaps an homage to both? The judges praised her for dancing with her soul.
Bruno’s Best Line: “You let the dance flow out of you effortlessly.”
SCORE: 40

Rashad and Emma
Quickstep
“Yes I Can” by the Superhumans
Rashad had a tough childhood. He rode the bench for most of his football career, until the day he didn’t. He was put into the game late and scored four touchdowns. Rashad wants everyone to know that they can do anything if they put their mind to it. Including the quickstep. Rashad and Emma run all over that dance floor, into every corner, having the time of their lives. He smiles a genuine smile the entire time. Yes he can and yes he did! Of course Len took off a point for his feet. How annoying.
Brono’s Best Line: “One thing is for sure…Forrest Gump never looked that good.”
SCORE: 39

At the end of the show, Erin becomes emotional at the thought of letting one of these contestants go. She asks Tom if Len could make the announcement. That tickled me to pieces! Normani and Val are deemed safe, followed by Rashad and Emma. As I mentioned before, David comes out ahead over Simone.

Next week is the finale. It’s TWO DAYS, so make sure to set your DVR for both Monday and Tuesday.

Who do you think will win? Can Normani continue her top of the leaderboard streak? Will Cubs Nation come through for David? Is there any way Rashad can teach Bruno how to properly throw a football? Sound off in the comments section!

Photo By: ABC.com

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