Dancing With The Stars: High Flying Routines & Stiff Competition Makes For Thrilling Finals
Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Shawn Johnson, Derek Hough and the Fierce Five, Tony Dovolani and Melissa Rycroft -- ABC
Is Melissa Rycroft on her way to her first mirrorball win? Could Shawn Johnson be adding a supersized new trophy to her awards cabinet, or will it be actress Kelly Monaco who gives the acceptance speech on Tuesday night while picking up the most coveted "Dancing with the Stars" prize of them all?
After Monday night's high flying, emotional and stunning competition round, the "Dancing with the Stars: All Stars" title is still anyone's game.
Going into the public vote, reality star Melissa sambaed her way into a very slight lead, with partner Tony Dovolani. The pair took home perfect scores for both of their routines - their repeat dance (a number from earlier in the season), and their contemporary-laced freestyle.
They kicked things off with a re-do of their Week 3 samba, an early season favorite, which featured fun tricks (like Melissa falling and Tony catching her on his calf) and lots of shaking.
"What a wonderful blend of moves," judge Bruno Tonioli raved. "Your technique is great... You've grown so much as a performer. You really have blossomed."
Taking a lesson from their Season 8 freestyle - a hip-hop number that fell flat - the duo opted for something that showed off Melissa's strengths this time around - her flexibility and beautiful lines, as they tackled a contemporary routine. And it left British judge Len Goodman, speechless.
"That had passion, it was wonderful, it was truly..." he trailed off, due to finding himself at a loss for words. "It was wonderful."
Their perfect score put them atop the leaderboard, giving them a one-point advantage over "General Hospital" actress Kelly and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who ended the night with a 59-point total and second place.
Kelly and Val's sexy repeat performance paso doble had a tiny slip up when the pair lost their grip early on in the number, but Bruno said they covered it up well, as they earned 29.5 for the routine (the exact score they got in round 2 as well).
"You burn like an awesome fire angel," he said. "You can always ignite drama... but what I saw tonight was artistry in polish... You even covered a slight mishap with the hand."
The pair's freestyle borrowed heavily from the Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze "Dirty Dancing" finale, a number that -- in various forms -- has been seen on the show before, but Kelly and Val's connection -- and two movie-worthy lifts in the routine -- sold it for the judges.
"We've all been watching you as a couple grow, I don't know if it's a real couple, but we watched that and it's played into your dancing. This was such the perfect dance," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said (the pair refused to disclose if they are dating when questioned later by show co-host Brooke Burke Charvet). "You executed everything [gracefully]; you added artistry and you told us a happy ending to a beautiful love story. I thought it was wonderful."
Surprisingly, early season frontrunners Shawn and Derek Hough finished at the bottom of the finals leaderboard - with a total score of 57 out of 60.