The last dances before the voters get their say as to the winner of the Mirror Ball trophy include a judges’ choice and the all important Freestyle. The Freestyle typically includes both lifts and throws, so who will be physically able to meet that challenge?

The show opens with the Mirror Ball projected on the dance floor and replicas that sit on pedestals around the floor; as well as the real trophy which is placed right in front of the judges’ table as it always is during Finals.

Tom: Welcome to Dancing with the Stars. We’re at the Finals!

As the three couples line up on the floor after their introductions, we find Chelsea/Mark ready to Samba in caramel colored fringe and gauze. Hines wears a top hat and tails to compliment Kym’s ball gown for their Quickstep and Kirstie/Maks go for the Latin orange and yellow matching outfits for their Samba.

The show is one hour tonight and will move quickly…as will this recap. Each of the judges will visit with one of the couples to explain their choice and to help coach them through the moves they want to see in the dance.

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Judges’ Pick – Samba

Carrie Ann tells Chelsea and Mark that the judges thought her last Samba was a little too perky, and want her to try again. She coaches Chelsea to let loose her sensual side with hip rolls and smoother Latin moves. Chelsea is excited to do it all over again with a completely different routine.

With fire jets blasting from the stage and an African beat egging them on, this Samba is a far cry from the Samba of Patriot’s week. No longer perky, Chelsea shows off her abs and hip rolls. Mark does have a problem finding his off-switch at the end of the dance…one more shimmy for votes, I guess.

Len: Every step you take every move you make, I’ll be watching you; and I’ll tell you I liked what I was watching. I wasn’t keen on the flailing arms section, but overall it was a great number; well done.

Bruno: (in rising from chair mode) Chelsea, you are like an ultra sexy bombshell delivering a fire cracker of a Samba. Rhythm (he flails his arms) it was flowing through your body like I’ve never seen before. Way to go.

Carrie Ann: Hot, Hot, Hot, Chelsea! That is so what I was wanting – you got down, you got dirty, you got sensual and it worked. Nice job.

Carrie Ann 10 Len 9 Bruno 10 Total: 29

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Judges’ Pick – Samba

Bruno coaches Kirstie to use a full arm extension and to get away from her flippy hands. He reminds her that, in the Samba, she should take charge, take her place as the Queen of the Carnivale.

Kirstie and Maks open with facing shoulder rolls as they side-step their way down the floor. Her arms do extend, but weakly and with a bent elbow – not what Bruno wanted. They finish the dance a beat ahead of the music and Maks cues her to rise from the bend over arm position with a light tap to her stomach, which I found interesting.

Bruno: Softer, rich, full of womanhood. Your feet are always good, but I told you not to look at the floor…play to the audience.

Carrie Ann: It’s funny to watch you do a Samba right after Chelsea. It just goes to show you are such different types of performers; but I love what you did. There was such a musicality. That was a really great Samba.

Len: It was a different style of Samba, but for me, it is fully appealing. It was less full on, but it had naturalness about it which I loved. It could have been quicker, but lovely job; well done.

Carrie Ann 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 Total: 27

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Judges’ Pick – Quick Step

Len: (in his limo looking at a Youtube of Hines’ first Quick Step) I gave Hines a 7 the first time he did the Quick Step because he had to look at his feet. If he can get his steps right, Hines can go from a 7 to a 10.

Len shows up in the studio waving a gold Terrible Towel and tells Hines they’re going to get his feet sharper. Kym wears a neck brace in rehearsal for support after last weeks injury.

Len: Point those toes…keep them lower.

Hines: With Len’s help, I hope I can go out and score a touchdown.

There is more opening production to their number as Hines pulls Kym away from her dressing table on stage. He then kicks open a red carpet which covers an incline over the stairs and follows her to the floor while bouncing to “Putting on the Ritz.” No flat feet for Hines this time; he bounced and kicked on his toes all the way through.

Carrie Ann: that was so much fun. You put so much more into it this time. When you dance, you pull the audience with you. It makes me forget I’m supposed to be judging.

Len: The best music wins a Grammy and the best dancer wins a Mirror Ball. As good as that was, and it was a vast improvement, for me, it’s not quite there yet. (boos from the audience, of course.) This competition is still anyone’s to win or lose. Come back in that Freestyle and really show me the WOW factor.

Bruno: You got it for me because it was like watching a mega production on Broadway. You just connect with the audience like no one. You’re an entertainer.

Carrie Ann 10 Len 9 Bruno 10 Total: 29

The Freestyle round now begins. They can choose any music (cleared, of course) and any style or combined styles of dance from modern to classical and ballroom in between. It has been said that whoever wins the judges’ raves or points on the Freestyle, wins the competition. Will that happen this season?

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Freestyle

Chelsea: I’m so excited; your Freestyles have always been off the charts. Mark wants to have choreography that shows we’re fresh and edgy; but, for me, it’s frikkin’ scary.

They use a dirt bike to make their “teen” entrance, yet use Latin music to fuel their steps. After a shoulder lift and spin followed by a waltz turn, the auditorium lights dim to show off the movements of their gloved hands and feet which are lit by embedded cable lights. Halfway though that section, Chelsea’s lights fail taking away some of the spectacle. There are lots of lifts, spins and rolling around on the floor to highlight their energy.

Tom: We’re down one battery pack, I think.

Len: It’s about entertainment; it’s about showcasing your talent. This was so full-on…it was so much attack…fantastic – well done.

Bruno: It’s electrifying. What was good was the way you interpreted the Latin rhythm with a contemporary twist. That was so creative and imaginative and I loved it.

Carrie Ann: Freestyling is all about going beyond our expectations. (She jumps out of her chair to enthusiastically squeal and flail about.) This causes first Mark, then Chelsea to fall to the floor.

Carrie Ann 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 Total: 30
Combined Total: 59

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Freestyle

They banter back and forth with do or die type words to describe the importance of the Freestyle.

Kirstie: Though this is the most important dance, I think when you go to dance, you just dance the best that you can.

To soft, slow music, Kirstie in bare feet follows a lighted path down the floor to Maks who lifts her into a hip spin. They then flow into Rumba moves. The beat picks up and Kirstie whips off her circle skirt and runs into Maks’ arms for a lift with a leg extension. They transition into jive type knees which she finishes with a cartwheel. There is a final shoulder lift with spin before Kirstie takes a solo walk back down the floor.

Bruno: Honestly, ten weeks ago I would never have thought of you even attempting to do lifts. You have to really appreciate what you’ve achieved. It could have been smoother, but respect, girl, respect.

Carrie Ann: Some of the lifts had a little “Alley-Oop” kind of feel to them, but other than that, that dance embodies how life should be lived at sixty years old.

Len: I saw elements of Rumba…and the lifts…I didn’t expect it. I thought you were great. I commend you – well done.

Carrie Ann 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 Total: 27
Combined Total: 54

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Freestyle

They choose a song from Drum Line where Hines will be a Drum Major and Kym will be a cheerleader. This goes along with Hines stating he had never seen a halftime show in all his years of football.

Marching out of a tunnel of balloons to the beat of snare and bass drums, they take it to the stage area before whistles change the beat and a brass band joins in. He drops the baton and they’re off. There are risky lifts and swing twirls right off the bat. Kym then rips off Hines’ long sleeves and they fit their steps to a march beat. Their last trick is another risky move with a 360 degree arm spin of Kym. Once again this week, I cringed on every lift, but they pulled them off magnificently.

Carrie Ann: That was risky – not easy to dance to that; and I have to say that wasn’t really a halftime show…that was the whole damn Super Bowl! Those lifts were insane.

Len: This is all about give and take – the more you give, the more points you take. You’ve just given your all.

Bruno: You pulled out all the stops and created a crowd pleasing event!

Carrie Ann 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 Total: 30
Combined Total: 59

Judges’ Leader Board for Part 1 of the Finale:

Chelsea/Mark 59
Hines/Kim 59
Kirstie/Maks 54

A tie at the top makes this a very interesting horserace for the Finale, Part 2, where they dance one more time for judges’ scores and then all the scores and votes are tallied and the winner gets the sparkly ball. Don’t miss this one!