"Dancing with the Stars" Recap: Season 11, Performance Finale!

It's the performance finale episode of "Dancing with the Stars" and the show ponies are out! No doubt tonight's show will be a sparkly, glittery, pun-filled hour and 13 minutes (weird time block, right?).

Remember, when "DWTS" is over, "Skating with the Stars" makes its debut. Sorry, folks, we won't be blogging that one.

Onto the finals! The three remaining contestants are Kyle Massey, Jennifer Grey and Bristol Palin (who, in a somewhat psychotic response from fans, has received death threats from people who are not happy to see her making it so far in the competition).

Ohhh a closeup of that "coveted mirrorball trophy." It's gaudy and fabulous, but even the trophy can't compare to the sparkly beauty of Brooke Burke. In a silver, one-shouldered sequin number and a long, sleek ponytail, she's looking red carpet-worthy. Cat Deeley, you've got some dance-reality-show-competition host competition. Dun dun dunnnnn.

To start, each couple will perform a Redemption Dance. It's the judges' choice, and they pick the style they think the dancers should have excelled in, but didn't.

First up: Kyle and Lacey. The boy's enthusiasm makes me smile. He's got the showmanship quality nailed. "Mr. Charisma," as Bruno has dubbed him. They get the foxtrot for their redemption dance. The judges hated their '70s theme routine during TV theme week. Now they're up again, this time coached by Len. Dancing to "Feelin' Good," Kyle is pulled up, poised and a bit stiff at the beginning. Once the music picks up, he loosens his grip on Lacey and starts, well, feelin' good. Overall I thought it was good—and the crowd goes wild! Len acknowledges that the foxtrot is the most difficult dance and that Kyle was so much better this time around. "You've gone from Messy Massey to Marvelous." Oh, Len.

Carrie Ann is looking finale-tastic tonight, too. Silver is the color of the evening, and her low-cut-but-somehow-not-skanky dress is divine.

Joke #1 about fans shooting their TVs: Done. It only took nine minutes of airtime for that to happen. Thanks, Tom. Well played.

Kyle and Lacey's score: 27/30

Plug #1 for "Skating with the Stars": Done. It only took 11 minutes of airtime for that to happen. Thanks, Tom.

Uh oh. Tom references the gorilla costume dance by Bristol and Mark. Seriously, I hate remembering that routine. It upsets me so much. Mark, what were you thinking?!

Bristol says she is more intimidated by the media than by Kyle or Jennifer. She looks sad at rehearsal. Mark hugs her. Then Bruno comes in to help. He wants to "bring out the wild child" in Bristol. Then: clip of gorilla suit dance. No more, please.

Here they go. Doing a jive to "Move Right Outta My Life." She is wearing blue sparkly shoes, and I like that. Glitter wins my heart every time. Bristol definitely looks more at ease this time around. Probably because she's not wearing a giant gorilla suit. Ugh. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. It. Mark continues to be overly showy, always out-dancing Bristol. But she's cute. She's worked hard all season and though I don't think she's the best contestant, she has come pretty far and you've gotta give her credit for that.

Standing ovation.

I now see that their gorilla suits were onstage with them. Mark puts the head on for their critique and I am so freaked out I want to cry. But Sarah Palin in the audience is loving it.

Bruno says he got something out of Brisol. Yes, Bruno. You get all the credit. Good job. Carrie Ann is amazed by Bristol's vibrant brightness (?) and Len says she went from "gorilla to thrillah."

Bristol and Mark's score: 27/30

Jennifer and Derek are the last couple up, and they have to attempt a paso doble. Carrie Ann is happy to help them in rehearsal, since last time this couple did a paso Carrie told Jennifer she needed to "calm down."

I love a classic, well-done paso doble. It's so seductive and dangerous. Also, Derek is baring his chest, which is obviously fine with me. Her skirt turns into a cape! Cool. It's very difficult for me to watch Jennifer because Derek is seducing me through the television screen.

Honestly, to compare Jennifer to the other contestants is silly. She's so much more refined than they are. Her maturity is undeniable and she's eloquently polished onstage. Offstage perhaps she's crazy, but when she takes the floor, the girl looks good. "This is the meaning of redemption," Carrie exclaims when the couple is finished. She happily saw everything she worked on with the couple. Bravo, Jen! Nobody puts you in a corner. Is that joke old yet?

Len gives them his own standing ovation, Bruno spouts off some stuff I can't understand, and ultimately the judges reveal their scores...

Jennifer and Derek's score: 30/30 ("I wish I had an 11!" says Bruno.)


Now, the best time! The freestyle! We hear from "DWTS" alums who say it's the most important dance of the season. Remember Apolo Ohno? I do. Hot. Remember Mel B.? Scary Spice! Remember Drew Lachey? It's OK. Neither do I.

Anyway, the freestyle is actually pretty awesome and totally makes the finale worth watching.

Kyle and Lacey are up first, and I'm excited to see him in his element. Personality plus!

Hahahaha they're dancing to the old-school hip-hop jam "Tootsie Roll." And Kyle is dancing on the judge's table. He's having so much fun! Chills-inducing for sure. Lacey needs to tone it down a bit with the raunch-factor. Kyle is rocking it though! He does a cartwheel, he does the worm, he does some quick ballrooming, some booty shaking, shimmying, backfilp-assisting and butt spinning. I'm a fan! That was fun dancing. Whether or not he wins this competition, Kyle has been a pleasure to watch. His too-cute-for-words grin gets me every time.

Len jokes that "Tootsie Roll" is one of his favorites and everyone laughs, but I know he was serious. Why won't people take him seriously? Carrie Ann Inaba, former Fly Girl, dubs Kyle the "Fresh Prince of DWTS."

Kyle and Lacey's score: 29/30

Another plug for "Skating with the Stars." WHAT IS WRONG WITH BETHENNY FRANKEL'S FACE?!?! I don't watch whatever show she's on, but ohmygosh I am terrified of her. "Skating" promises to be "very, very dramatic" despite a lackluster cast with exactly zero people I'm familiar with.

Time for Bristol and Mark's freestyle. If it involves gorilla suits, the blog ends here...

OK, so Bristol has never seen "Chicago" and has never seen a Broadway show. I feel so sad for her. But Mark, why would you pick this as the freestyle when she has no idea what she's doing? This is his chance to show off what she can do, not what he wants to do.

"Cell Block Tango" is one of my favorite songs and Bristol looks kinda hot. What would Levi think? Sadly, based on this freestyle, I don't think Bristol will or should win. Her face isn't sexy-serious, it's drab-deadpan. Mark shouldn't have choreographed something that was so foreign to her. He's having the time of his life and she's sort of lost. The pelvic thrusting was...weird. And all the twisting in the scarf wasn't worthy of a mirrorball trophy. Sorry, guys. I don't think the competition is yours for the taking.

But let's see what the judges think...

Bruno says she wasn't at the level that the song required, but it was a good attempt. Carrie is happy to have seen Bristol Palin dancing in a cage. Len calls himself mature and intelligent in the head. Then says the performance was fantastic.

Bristol and Mark's score: 25/30


In the last performance of the night, Jennifer and Derek are ready to tear up the dance floor.

Derek has sequins on his white baby-T!!! He knows I am in love with him and is merely teasing me at this point.

She's holding a watermelon. OMG!!! HE RIPPED HER DRESS OFF AND SHE IS IN A SPARKLY MIDRIFF OUTFIT. They're dancing to "Do You Love Me" from Dirty Dancing. Naturally. The song seems to be making her comfortable, because she seems loose, like she's actually just dancing and having fun. Derek pelvic thrusts and all is right with the world. Then they do some dirty dancing of their own atop the judge's table. He spins her around, giving her a chance to show off her super-strong core. Her body stays perfectly still!

It was a really cute routine, but as far as freestyle routines go, my favorite was Kyle and Lacey's. They took the non-ballroom route, which I like.

Re: Jennifer and Derek. Carrie Ann says it was "amazing, perfect, somethingjibberishIcan'tunderstand." Len says they're "headed for that mirrorball trophy," and Bruno says something with the world "brilliant" in it. Why can't I decipher his words?

Jennifer and Derek's score: 10...10...10... 30/30!
They have a perfect overall score for the night.

I notice that Brooke's microphone is bedazzled, and I am now even more jealous of her. She has the best life with the best dress, the best hair extensions and the sparkliest microphone.

So there you have it. Cast your votes accordingly, folks!

On tomorrow's finale: The winner is crowned—er, mirrorballed?—and Christina Aguilera performs what's sure to be a rump-shaking Burlesque-inspired medley. Until then, let us know what you thought of the performance finale!

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:

Read Darriel's profile here

Read Diego's profile here

Read Emma's profile here

And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
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