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It’s hard to believe that we’re just one week away from announcing the season 27 champions. But we’re here! Welcome to the DWTS semi-finals. This season has been all over the place voting-wise, but for the most part, the dancing has been outstanding. Tonight is no different!

Our remaining six couples have two routines to help them reach mirror ball glory: First, they’ll dance a new style and dedicate their routine to someone special. Then there’s the Judges’ Choice round in which one of our judges will choose a style the couple can improve upon and help them out in rehearsals. The entire evening is one big emotional roller coaster, so buckle up…and maybe pack some tissues.

Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Salsa, “GDFR” by Flo Rida
Oh, kids, it is truly “going down for real” as Flo Rida says. Bobby dedicates his salsa to everyone who has gotten him this far on the show. Sharna has him watch a video of those people cheering Bobby on and naturally, the guy breaks down in tears. But there are no tears when Bobby jumps out on the dance floor flocked by six gorgeous professional dancers. All three of the judges note that it’s not really a traditional salsa…or any type of salsa, really (I mean, with the crowd out on the ballroom floor, you can barely see his feet). But to answer Maximus Decimus Meridius, yes, they are entertained.
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Waltz, “Water” by Bishop Briggs
Well, we all saw this coming, no? Alexis dedicates her dance this week to Alan. He’s helped her grow and open her heart and fine, we all get it. She wants to make it into the finals and win the mirror ball as a thank you to Alan. It’s definitely a possibility. But I’m with Len — this waltz needed less rain and more waltz! And this is coming from a pro-rain-while-dancing person. Aside from lack of style content and one major lift, the dance is elegant and fluid, and Carrie Ann notes an added maturity to Alexis’s movement. Ultimately though, there’s a lot of critiquing going on for what turns out to be great scores.
Judges’ Score: 28/30

Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Contemporary, “This Year’s Love” by David Gray
Joe plans on dedicating his dance to the three most important women in his life: His mom, his grandmother, and Kendall. Once Joe gets a look at Jenna’s, uh “intimate” choreography for this contemporary routine, Joe amends his previous statement: The evening is dedicated to his mom and grandmother, the dance is for Kendall. It’s a good choice because the routine is very romantic. Joe has never looked like a better, stronger partner for Jenna than he does here. Carrie Ann notices and she’s “impressed.” The guys? Not so much. Both Len and Bruno thought Joe just stood there while Jenna danced around. At least he got one judge on his side?
Judges’ Score: 22/30

Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Argentine tango, “Libertango” from Forever Tango
The majority of my notes from Juan Pablo’s portion of this round were just me screaming. First, in his rehearsals, he dedicates this to his mom, a warrior queen and breast cancer survivor. She shows up at the studio and it’s wonderful. Moms, you guys! BUT THEN: Juan Pablo and Cheryl perform and we’re all given new reasons to keep living. IT’S THAT GOOD. That final gancho sequence Bruno calls out? I had to stand up part way through it because I couldn’t contain myself. (I don’t get out much.) Len tells the pair that he’ll always remember that Argentine tango and like, aw, Len. He’s a softy at heart. Bruno and Carrie Ann agree: It’s one of the best routines they’ve ever seen on this show.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Contemporary, “Stand Up for Something” by Andra Day
WHAT IS HAPPENING TONIGHT? Just when you think no one can follow up Juan Pablo and Cheryl’s incredible routine, Evanna tells this gorgeous story about her late friend and director Simon Fitzmaurice, who in the face of ALS taught Evanna to “be as bold and vibrant as you can.” And so she is! This contemporary is a celebration of life, and Evanna has never looked so strong — and she and Keo have never had so much chemistry! The perfect score the pair gets isn’t a surprise, but then Erin starts thanking Evanna for helping Keo get the furthest he ever has on this show and KEO BREAKS OUT INTO TEARS. And so do I! KEO! These semi-finals are exhausting, emotionally speaking.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Argentine tango, “Pray for Me” by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar
Give it up for Camryn Manheim, Milo’s mom (and very famous actress, duh), who after being told her son would be dedicating his dance to her because of how much he appreciates and loves her, responds: “Now, get into a good college.” Priorities, people! Milo has a tough road: He’s also performing an Argentine tango. He and Witney are great, but, like, come on. Carrie Ann praises his presence and shaping. Bruno applauds the lifts (seriously, they were great). And Len acknowledges how hard doing this routine in our post-Juan Pablo world must be, but appreciates Milo staying true to himself. It’s weird that three nines feel like a letdown, but that’s the semi-finals for ya.
Judges’ Score: 27/30

(Next: It’s the Judges’ Choice)

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