Hold up! Last week I talked all about Nyle DiMarco running away with that Mirror Ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars. Did the America’s Next Top Model winner leave the door open for someone else to possibly win?
I think so — and it seems to be a two-person race.
Ginger Zee is nursing a painful pelvis injury this week and she appeared to be a bit hesitant on a few of the lifts. She did a safe, but pretty, contemporary routine and a spirited freestyle dance in the vein of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire with pro Val Chmerkovskiy.
These were solid routines, but she seemed to fade in the background tonight compared to DiMarco and his fiercest competitor, UFC fighter Paige VanZant.
The first round of the night began with a Redemption Round of dances the contestants had done before but need to improve upon.
DiMarco tried to clean up his quickstep technique for the finale. It was a hit-or-miss dance for the deaf contestant. He nailed his cowboy character, but the crisp footwork was missing and he sometimes presented a slouched frame. This is where he left the door open for VanZant to sneak in.
She stepped on the ballroom floor with Mark Ballas to restage the salsa dance that Ballas missed due to a back injury in the early weeks of the competition. Her movement was spot-on with plenty of hip action and fiery personality to complement the choreography.
Round 1: Paige.
Here’s where it gets tricky — the freestyle round. The pros can create anything they want with their contestants and it’s a chance to showcase a different side of the celebrity.
Peta Murgatroyd brought in choreographer Talia Favia, a renowned contemporary specialist, to help her out with a piece danced to Disturbed’s cover of “The Sound of Silence.” The dance was emotional, raw and gave me goosebumps.
While DiMarco did have a few sync issues with his partner, this is the kind of dance that wins Mirror Ball trophies because you feel every minute of it. That’s exactly what the model has done all season — open our eyes to what is possible.
VanZant and Ballas’ freestyle dance gave me something I’ve been looking for all season from her — emotional vulnerability. That tough girl is also very sweet and tender. The athlete has proven she can dance any style and look like a pro doing it.
Round 2: Nyle.
Even though there’s still one more dance tomorrow night, the fans’ votes tonight are going to count big time because it’s a close race for first place.
Who do you vote for? The contestant who has shown the most heart all season? Or the contestant who is one of the best dancers DWTS has ever seen? It’s a tough call.