Lace up your dancing shoes and polish off those sequins one last time, Dancing fam. The end of Dancing With the Stars season 24 is nigh. Well, the finale is actually two and a half hours long, so it isn’t nigh nigh, but we’re so close to crowning a new Mirrorball champion. Our finalists do have one last obstacle: the 24-hour Fusion Dance Challenge. And also lots of glittery filler by way of pro dances, words of advice from previous champs, visits from this season’s ousted celebrities… and a performance from Hailee Steinfeld in which she really looks like she wants a taste of Dancing With the Stars. GET ON IT GIRL. You know you want in on this magical journey.
The dancing extravaganza begins with a look back at how David and Lindsay, Rashad and Emma, and Normani and Val all made it to the finale, a portion of the show otherwise known as: Come Watch Adults Cry! These three pairings were the strongest from the get-go, and their chemistry is a big part of how they stayed around so long. I mean, David admitting how surprised he was that Lindsay has had such a big effect on his life? Rashad telling Emma that this wouldn’t have been the same without her? VAL WEEPING. It’s almost too much to take. Just kidding! This emotional roller coaster dressed in glitter is what we came for.
For a small breather, DWTS offers up an intermission of sexual exploitation. I mean that in the best way possible. Witney choreographs a ladies-only number (including Heather Morris!) set to Bishop Briggs’ “River,” performed under rain from the ballroom skies that is chill-inducing. The male pros get their own little number too, ripe with pelvic thrusts and the always welcome Blazers, No Shirts. Dancing With the Stars: Shirts Are Always Optional.
As is tradition, we also take a quick journey back through the season. Can you believe it was just a couple of months ago that we had Mr. T breaking through a wall? Charo threatening Bruno’s life… but, like, in an adorable way? And one of my favorite new themes to come out of season 24: Vegas Night.
Speaking of, Nancy and Artem (THEY DESERVED BETTER) bless us with an encore rendition of their samba set to Ricky Martin’s “Shake Your Bon-Bon.” Nancy has never looked so free! Bonner and Sharna bring some country back to the dance floor (honestly, it’s time for Queen Sharna to win a trophy, people). Charo rocks some classical flamenco guitar while Keo and Witney (who definitely gets the Pro MVP award for the evening) fly across the ballroom floor like the angels they are. Nick and Peta dance one last time, but the real reason Nick is back is to expose his brief but glorious bromance with Maks. My kingdom for an “I heart Maks” shirt. Maks and Heather bless us with their perfect-40 rumba to “Waterfalls” backed up by… TLC. It’s as wonderful as you imagine. And yes, as promised, Simone and Sasha dance for us again. It involves Moana and a lot of gymnastics.
Whew. That’s a lot of reminiscing.
The three finalists get to show off some of their favorite dances from the season, too. David, bless his heart, selects his Magic Mike jazz routine. I’m happy to report it’s just as hilarious the second time around. Rashad and Emma choose their week one cha-cha, which is fine, but also: Why? The real standout is Normani and Val’s encore dance. They perform their construction-themed salsa with two very big enhancements: Bruno and Len. BRUNO AND LEN, YOU GUYS. In the least surprising news, I love this show.
There are also performances from the likes of OneRepublic, Lady Antebellum, and the cast of Dirty Dancing (#SynergyLives). Let’s be honest: We’re all here for that final round of competition and for a winner to be named. Okay, maybe like five of you are here for that “Mr. T: Dance Fixes Everything” acid trip we all went on. The five of you are weird. All of this is to say, let’s wrap this competition up.
THE 24-HOUR FUSION DANCE CHALLENGE
David Ross and Lindsay Arnold
Foxtrot/Salsa Fusion, “Living” by Bakermat feat. Alex Clare
Let the gushing begin. In their last rehearsal, David and Lindsay tell each other what this season has meant to them and how sad they are that they’ll be dancing together for the last time. These two have to stay friends after this, right? RIGHT? They perform a predictably and wonderfully crowd-pleasing fusion number, and then it’s the judges’ turn to gush. Perhaps the most telling is Carrie Ann, who admits that America’s voted the way she can’t — and she’s grateful for that. David and Lindsay bring joy to the dance floor, and joy is important. Even Grumpy Len says so.
Judges’ Score: 36/40
Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Argentine Tango/Foxtrot Fusion, “Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
Normani gets the most emotional we’ve seen her this season as it finally hits her that this whole thing is ending. No more sweating it out in the rehearsal room with Val. Girl, you had it perfect for a while. And perfect is how Normani and Val go out. Their Argentine tango/Foxtrot fusion shows off all of Normani’s strengths: performance, passion, and those legs. Carrie Ann tells Normani she was born to dance and she was born to win this competition. Like, I hope Normani knows she was born to do more than win a disco ball on a stick, but the sentiment is still nice.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater
Cha Cha/Tango Fusion, “I Don’t Like It, I Love It” by Flo Rida feat. Robin Thicke
There’s no cuter couple on season 24 than Rashad and Emma. They continue their Tour of Cuteness with a stroll down memory lane via tear-inducing photos of their time together. (By the way: My love for Len grew tenfold when he admitted to hating the word “journey.” You go, Len Coco.) Emma knows this partnership is bigger than the show. Can Rashad just stay forever? I’m being told that no, he cannot. It doesn’t make up for that completely, but Rashad and Emma’s final dance is so well suited for them — an energetic cha-cha paired with a passionate tango. Couples come and go on DWTS, but these two are straight-up legends.
Judges’ Score: 39/40
We can gush all we want about the finalists of season 24, but someone has to take home that Mirrorball. You guys: It’s business time. After OneRepublic makes us sufficiently tear up while watching the Finalist Montage, Tom and Erin announce the couple who have landed in third place: Normani and Val.
I told you this season was weird.
The final two couples standing are David and Lindsay (do you believe in miracles?) and Rashad and Emma (if only Rashad could hold all of us like that as we cry). However this thing shakes out, I’m just excited that a new pro will be getting a Mirrorball. Those guys work so hard and sparkly balls should be shared!
At the end of a long, twisty, glittery road, the season 24 Dancing With the Stars champions are Rashad and Emma. They force them onto an awkward (but bedazzled) golf cart ride before they can really celebrate, but regardless, these two are so overjoyed that it really doesn’t matter. Remember when Erin announced that Rashad put in 362 hours of rehearsal time this season? It looks like it paid off. And it feels good.
Well, Dancing fam, that’s another one in the books. May your kicks and flicks stay right and tight over the break and your summers be full of sparkle. Until next time!