Dancing with the Stars recap: Semi-Finals

Dancing with the Stars Recap: Semi-Finals

Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t watched the season 24 semi-finals, please scroll on down to the first set of contestants in bold. Those of us who did tune in last night need to process through a few feelings we have, thanks to a certain twist of events during the elimination announcements.

Seriously. Scroll down. I don’t want you to blame me for ruining it for you.


I have thoughts about why Simone Biles was eliminated from the show.

Simone’s sass may have bitten her in the butt.

Did you see the judges’ reaction when Simone told Erin last week that “smiles don’t win gold medals?” I don’t think she planned on being snarky in her interview, but there was some bite to that comment. Even Julianne, who plays the role of a loving big sister, dropped her jaw.

Is Simone’s statement true? As an outsider looking in, I’d say yes. Gymnasts are taught to hide their emotions. She has been trained for years to stuff down her giggling personality during performances. Therefore, the minute she steps on the dance floor, muscle memory takes over and she plasters on a fake smile for the happy dances and the stoic look for the dramatic dances.

I understand that this is very hard to suddenly fix.

Humor me for a moment and consider this perspective: What are the judges constantly concerned about with each of the four remaining contestants?

Okay, Normani can do no wrong in their eyes, so I am going to omit her from this part of the discussion. I suspect most of you expected her to be in the finals.

We’ve determined that Simone’s flaw is her willingness to be real with her facial expressions. The judges want her to be raw and connect with Sasha.

David has an entire host of things he could fix. However, the latest harp is that he needs to tuck his butt in more.

Rashad’s feet have yet to earn him consistent high marks from Len.

The question remains: Can these be fixed?

Everyone can tell that Simone is an energetic doll who is loved by the entire Dancing with the Stars cast when she’s filmed behind the scenes. The judges see her darling facial expressions. One would assume that it’s likely she could tap into that in some form or fashion, which she did a little bit this episode, thanks to Carrie Ann’s wild and crazy dance session.

As a catcher, David has been trained for years to stick his butt out to help him balance behind home plate. You might say muscle memory takes over and his butt sticks out automatically when he dances. Julianne brings some lemons for David to tuck between his butt cheeks (hilarious). Guess what? His butt was better.

And Rashad has been playing football his entire life. He was trained to keep his toes up when running and scrambling. You might say muscle memory takes over and he automatically dances heel/toe instead of toe/heel.

My point is that they all have their “things” that keep them from performing the way the judges want them to. Rashad blames his football career in his package with Bruno. David blames his baseball career in his package with Julianne. Simone blames her gymnastics career in her interview with Erin.

So what was the difference?

I believe it is the delivery.

Rashad and David go about their business. It’s obvious they work hard and are having a good time. Winning Dancing with the Stars would be so cool to them. Not winning Dancing with the Stars will not break them. They are totally along for the fun ride.

Simone is a different story. I believe it was a mixture of exhaustion and the concrete walls of a glorified perfectionist being criticized on national television that set her apart. Simone’s fighting side (the same one that got her the Olympic gold) came out in that one sentence, and the non-gymnasts of the voting world retaliated.

People respond to a humble spirit. They are also very forgiving to humble spirits. Case in point? David. He is clearly not the best dancer, yet Cub Nation and thousands of other people have kept him around because he’s genuine, funny, and truly humbled to even be considered as a contender. He also constantly reminds everyone that he is not the best dancer.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Simone is sweet and kind, and we have to remember that week after week after week the judges constantly asked her to feel the dance in her face because EVERYTHING ELSE WAS PERFECT. Of course she blew up. I would have, too.

But think about it. Would the results have been different if Simone had said…

Smiling is hard for gymnast. (I think she did say that once or twice.)
Smiling is hard for a gold medalist. (Wink, wink.)
I’m smiling on the inside. Does that count? (Playful banter.)

Most will understand that she trained her entire life to be an Olympian with multiple gold medals. They love that she is young and naive. They appreciate that she tries hard in rehearsals to get the dance precisely right. We admire those who train hard! We were young and naive once! We stare in awe at her talent!

“Smiles don’t win gold medals.”

Record scratch.

The fact that she put herself above everyone else with that tiny little “gold medals” disclaimer was the kicker. Viewers don’t know what it’s like to be a gold medalist and don’t appreciate you throwing that fact in their face.

I have a theory that Sasha knew Simone’s comment was going to cause a rift. If you follow Dancing with the Stars on Instagram, you will see that he and Simone wore tank tops displaying the now infamous quote. Sasha and Simone desperately needed to change the perception that the statement was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. And maybe it was! I just can’t help but remembering the judges’ reactions. It certainly wasn’t received that way.

Poor Simone does break down in her rehearsal time with Sasha. For the first time in her life, she isn’t able to take the critique from the judges and improve her performance. Also, that one time she showed emotion on the balance beam, she received a bronze medal. This exercise to “find her face” has to be torturous for our favorite gymnast.

Alas, the damage had been done. America had already voted and David was chosen over Simone.

Is David the best dancer? No.
Is he a crowd favorite? Absolutely.

Some people are irritated that the best dancers aren’t in the finals. These are the same people who are irritated that Heather went home weeks ago. I get it. I tend to fall into that category. But if you listen closely to the judges, many of them say that David’s story is what this show is all about. Improvement. Fun. Crowd favorite.

Call me crazy, but David may win this entire shebang.

I can guarantee you that Normani and Rashad will give him a run for his money…

Normani and Val
Judge’s Challenge: Len
Viennese Waltz
“Desperado” by Rihanna
Len chooses Normani and Val during the judge’s challenge. He wants to make sure Val puts a ton of content into this waltz. He wants twelve bars in proper hold, a lovely frame, and lots of elegance. The producers try to make us think Normani trips all the time during rehearsals (we don’t buy it, producers) but of course Normani floats and flies across the dance floor in a gorgeous crimson red gown. The entire number was performed in black and white, excluding Normani’s dress. That distracted me because I kept waiting for the rest of the color to show up. Weird, I know. I’m weird. We all need to accept that. Although I personally didn’t see twelve bars of hold, and was too lazy to rewind, Len said he couldn’t have been happier. Sadly, Normani did trip once (SHE’S HUMAN!) so all the judges took off a point.
Bruno’s Best Line: “What a thriller, killer. You turned Vienna into Sin City.”

David and Lindsay
Judge’s Challenge: Julianne
“You Make Me Feel So Young” by Michael Bublé
As I mentioned before, Julianne brings a few lemons for David to squeeze between his buns. It works for the most part. Lindsay wears an odd, barely-there dress that manages to be backless. It was a bit clunky, but that’s what we expect from David. The judges raved about his work ethic and his improvement, but the scores were where they should be. I’d also like to point out that the two girls gave David the exact same score as Normani. Crazy.
Bruno’s Best Line: “The citrus hit the spot! You continue to entertain us. Watching you is a joy.”

Global sensation Calum Scott performed next as Witney and Artem flailed about in grey cotton leotards from the ‘80s. The only thing I got out of this dance was a Google search for Calum and maybe a new Spotify station with his name on it.

Simone and Sasha
Judge’s Challenge: Carrie Ann
“Faith” by Stevie Wonder
I thought it was appropriate for Carrie Ann to be Simone’s helper judge because she’s the one who has been begging Simone to dance with her face. She also said that she appreciates what Simone said (the gold medal comment) because she was being honest. After a weird dance session, Sasha choreographs a fun, whimsical jive. Simone starts off with some cute facial expressions, then she morphs into plastic, but comes back around to winks and open mouths at the end. I didn’t love the dance. Nor did I love the arcade theme with the JV dancers in the back. They were superfluous in my opinion. Julianne made Simone choose a name for her jive character (Zoe) and all the judges applauded her for a fantastic routine.
Bruno’s Best Line: “Little Miss Perfect is letting it loose! Love the reckless, sassy attitude.”
SCORE: 40 — first perfect score

Rashad and Emma
Judge’s Challenge: Bruno
“Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur
Bruno bursts through the rehearsal studio and “throws” a football to Rashad that lands somewhere east of where Rashad is standing. Bless it. He then teaches Rashad how to move his arms in a fluid motion. The rumba is challenging because it requires clean feet and hands. Not monster claws like what Rashad is currently giving Bruno. The dance is uneventful to me, probably because there are spotlights shining into my eyeballs the entire time. Worst TV blocking EVER. From what I could see, I think Rashad portrayed strength, elegance, and an open shirt made of the same material as Emma’s skirt. Julianne gives a nice compliment, praising Rashad for leading Emma through the rumba. It’s very hard for a pro female dancer to experience that in the competition, yet Rashad succeeded.
Bruno’s Best Line: “You are exceeding all expectations. You never cease to surprise me.”

Next up is two-time champion Cheryl Burke pimping out her own summer dance spectacular, “Love on the Floor.” It was a bunch of dudes with man buns shoving Cheryl through doors. According to Cheryl, this is what love is all about. For those of you keeping score, you can go see Cheryl’s show, Julianne’s show with her brother, or the Dancing with the Stars touring show this summer. Choose wisely!

Normani and Val
“What a Wonderful World” by Ray Chew
In this segment of the show, contestants do everything they can to make us cry. Normani grew up in New Orleans. There she experienced her mother’s cancer and Hurricane Katrina. Her family got her through it all. I can say with extreme boldness that I love her grandmother. She gives advice on Normani’s costumes AND she kisses Val directly on the lips. L-O-V-E her.

Grandmama puts Normani in a fun, purple, fringe, sparkly number and Val throws everything into his choreography, except the kitchen sink. He took “jazz” as literal JAZZ and produced a dance that celebrated the New Orleans musical jazz scene. Every member of the JV troupe was there, but she didn’t need them. All eyes were on Normani. Len gives a standing ovation, which surprises the entire ballroom. Julianne praises her humility (see?) and Carrie Ann wisely assesses that Normani manages to be powerful in her moves, yet they are also effortless.
Bruno’s Best Line: “That’s how you do it in the Big Easy. Vibrant, exciting, colorful.”

(Skip to minute 3:55 for the dance if you don’t want to watch the interview.)

David and Lindsay
“Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran
David tells about the time that he was less than humble on the baseball field. Rumor got around that he wasn’t a team player, so he changed his way for good and started playing for his teammates instead of himself. When producers interviewed his mom, she started crying remembering the time her boy was carried off the field during the World Series. While that emotion still rings in the ballroom, Lindsay begins to tango around David in a scantily clad outfit. Although I didn’t love the music choice, David did a great job tucking his butt in. Carrie Ann took points off for Lindsay’s foot coming off the ground. Ugh.
Bruno’s Best Line: “In this one, you went for it like a torpedo in a tuxedo.”

SIDE NOTE: Do any of you think that one of the JV dancer dudes looks like Ryan Gosling?

Simone and Sasha
“Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato
Simone talks about how her family sacrificed so much for her to become a gymnast. Mary Lou Retton thinks Simone is the best on planet Earth. What a compliment! Sasha choreographs a routine revolving around her gymnastics career. For a hot second I thought Simone was going to hop up on the balance beam in her high heels, but that didn’t happen. Instead she gyrates up on her partner wearing a gold bedazzled leotard with a sash around it. I don’t know if the gold sash represented gold or her partner Sash-a. Perhaps an homage to both? The judges praised her for dancing with her soul.
Bruno’s Best Line: “You let the dance flow out of you effortlessly.”

Rashad and Emma
“Yes I Can” by the Superhumans
Rashad had a tough childhood. He rode the bench for most of his football career, until the day he didn’t. He was put into the game late and scored four touchdowns. Rashad wants everyone to know that they can do anything if they put their mind to it. Including the quickstep. Rashad and Emma run all over that dance floor, into every corner, having the time of their lives. He smiles a genuine smile the entire time. Yes he can and yes he did! Of course Len took off a point for his feet. How annoying.
Brono’s Best Line: “One thing is for sure…Forrest Gump never looked that good.”

At the end of the show, Erin becomes emotional at the thought of letting one of these contestants go. She asks Tom if Len could make the announcement. That tickled me to pieces! Normani and Val are deemed safe, followed by Rashad and Emma. As I mentioned before, David comes out ahead over Simone.

Next week is the finale. It’s TWO DAYS, so make sure to set your DVR for both Monday and Tuesday.

Who do you think will win? Can Normani continue her top of the leaderboard streak? Will Cubs Nation come through for David? Is there any way Rashad can teach Bruno how to properly throw a football? Sound off in the comments section!

Photo By: ABC.com
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May 16, 2017 11:27 am

I agree with you, Lincee–Simone’s sass bit her in the butt. Every contestant, including Maks, who has clapped back at the judges gets eliminated the next week. Her comment may have been tongue in cheek, but the audience that does the voting perceived it as snotty and less than gracious. David, on the other hand, has never taken umbrage with anything the judges said. I hope he does win it all. I don’t care that he isn’t the best dancer, he’s certainly having a good time.

Overall, I enjoyed last night’s show. I’m really looking forward to David’s freestyle though!

May 16, 2017 11:51 am
Reply to  Kelli

My hubby (who never watches dwts because he can’t handle Bruno) liked David over Simone, he thought she was too stiff and thought that he was not a good match with Sasha! I love David and I really think the public likes him too. The public also got rid of Nancy and Heather because of their attitudes, I think Simone’s attitude did her in as well.

May 16, 2017 11:52 am
Reply to  Vangie

oh and that troupe dancer definitely looked like Ryan Gosling!!

May 16, 2017 11:39 am

I love Normani and there’s no doubt she’s the best dancer left + the most consistent throughout the season… but would love for Rashad or David to win so that Emma or Lindsey can finally get their well deserved mirrorball! Plus I agree with your assessment of the judges’ comments – if David is what this show is about, then he deserves to win! I just fear he’ll get scored lower in the finals to offset the fan vote, as seems to be the case in past finals with the likes of Marie Osmond, Alek, etc

May 16, 2017 12:11 pm

I didn’t watch last night, but FF my recording to the results. I’m so disappointed that Simone was eliminated! This one is on the judges, in my opinion. I saw a hilarious screen cap of the four of them looking completely surprised, shocked and disappointed, yet I think they are why she ended up here. They judged her so harshly on facial expressions since her technical dancing was near perfect, and then grade on a curve for the bad dancers. They began the season wanting a 20 year old with the maturity level of a much younger woman to be more sexy. When there was backlash for that, they picked on her smile when she was doing dances that called for one (Charleston). She ditches the smile for the Paso and they still didn’t like it. The poor girl was trying to hold it together when she made the gold medal comment so I’m not surprised how it came out. So what if she showed a little bit of sass? They’ve been asking for emotion and now they don’t like the type of emotion that came out?

If you are looking for a humble champion, look no further than Simone Biles. She has demonstrated it time and again over the past several years. I’ve been following her career since the 2012 Olympic Trials when she was named one to watch. Her resume goes way beyond her success at the 2016 summer games. That same bubbly, sweet personality that you see in the behind the scenes footage is the same you see on the competition floor cheering on her teammates, and hugging her competitors.

I’m rooting for Rashad or David now, although I think I’m done watching.

Mollie A
Mollie A
May 16, 2017 3:44 pm
Reply to  Rain

Well said. I couldn’t agree more!

May 16, 2017 6:24 pm
Reply to  Rain

Rain, I completely agree with you. The judges started that entire controversy about Simone Biles and her “attitude.” They absolutely turned people against her. She is a darling girl and her story is unbelievable. To go from being a virtually abandoned child to a gold-medal winning athlete who brought honor to her country is one of the most amazing transformations ever.

This is a DANCE competition. I love David Ross and was thrilled with the rest of the country when the Cubs won the series, but come on! There is no way on this earth he’s a better dancer than most of the eliminated contestants. He’s where he is because of his connection with the Cubs. If he were from some other baseball team, he’d be long gone.

And I have no idea what people are talking about when they refer to Nancy Kerrigan’s “attitude.” All I saw was a somewhat older woman who had been out of the public eye for a number of years, and who had some anxiety about being back in a competitive situation.

I just hope all of the unfounded criticism of Simone doesn’t really get to her. She deserves so much better.

I’ve loved Rashad the entire time and hope he wins, but Normani probably will, which is fine.

I commented once before that this show desperately needs a “Tim Gunn save” option, and I’m more convinced of that than ever.

May 16, 2017 8:24 pm
Reply to  Rain

Thank you Rain for pointing out that the judges did her no favors ….trying to make a 20 year old girl get in touch with her sexy side was demeaning

May 17, 2017 6:32 am
Reply to  Rain

100 PERCENT AGREE WITH YOU. I mostly blame Carrie Ann, who last week came off like a bully who backed Simone into a corner. I felt bad for her.

May 17, 2017 1:23 pm
Reply to  Sara

I was frustrated with the judges’ treatment of Simone too and felt like they were overly hard on her. Carrie Ann most especially!! They were definitely part of the problem. Simone didn’t deserve to leave this week!

May 16, 2017 1:02 pm

Simone snapped last week, and there absolutely was an edge to the comment, and sadly it bit her this week as I bet this group was closely bunched in the voting. She lashed out in a moment of frustration, and it is a shame, because although I did think the judges had a valid point, and that her issue was the most fixable of anyone’s remaining issues, I didn’t think the judges did a good job of conveying the criticism to her in a useful way. Saying it was too perfect understandably annoyed her and she clearly didn’t get what they were trying to convey, so it felt like nitpicking to her. I feel bad for her, she was adorable! That said, I liked everyone in the semifinals, and I’m thrilled for the 3 that did advance. Between the support of Cubs and other baseball fans everywhere, plus his general appeal even if the first time you laid eyes on David was this show, I’m not surprised that David made it to the finals. I enjoy having him there week after week. But, I’m hoping the win goes to Rashad. Normani is the best dancer, but she also comes in with prior experience, so although I love her, I’m cheering for Rashad who doesn’t have the prior dance training, and came in with such a great attitude and tried so hard all season. But I would be happy for any one of the 3 finalists who eventually wins!

May 16, 2017 2:13 pm

I like Normani and no question she is the best dancer left, but I want to see someone that really is out of their comfort zone win. I expected to love Simone and Nancy because I loved them so much as Olympians but while I enjoyed them I didn’t LOVE them. I didn’t want to like David because he is a stinking cub and was a red sox player before that. But he is what I want to see, someone with truly no experience learning to dance.

May 16, 2017 4:08 pm

After that comment last week, I knew Simone was going home. Maybe she’s humble in the gymnastics world, but the last thing a contestant should do is diss a judge – because fans love the judges and will stand up for them and vote against the person who gives snotty remarks (I have in the past, and I did last week!). I love Simone the gymnast, but couldn’t stand Simone the DWTS contestant. When they showed clips of her dancing during the package, all I saw (again) was a cheerleader on the dance floor.

I wasn’t happy with the fact she wanted to give up and confided that in Sasha. Apparently if she’s not good at something she wants to give up…but maybe that’s her age. Because if you wanna see someone who should give up because they’re totally terrible, look no farther than David (who I adore!). With that being said, I loved both her routines last night and thought she had a much more humble spirit. Once again this season, someone with a perfect score for the night, and a presumed fan favorite, went home.

I watched “What a Wonderful World” jazz routine no less than 5xs last night. I even kept the DVR recording so I could watch it again later. Go Normani!!

May 18, 2017 3:20 pm
Reply to  Skylar

I SO agree: Normani’s “What a Wonderful World’ jazz routine just knocked my socks off! It was just such heartwarming, cheery fun!!

May 16, 2017 4:43 pm

Loved the fun comment about Simone’s sash possibly representing Sasha. Your recaps make this show even more fun to watch.
Simone’s back talk last week certainly didn’t help her. That girl should have bit her tongue.

May 16, 2017 6:54 pm

I agree that Simone’s comment was her undoing. I do have to admit that I’ve been a bit bored with her performances for that very reason. There was no emotion or feeling behind anything she did and if there was, I certainly didn’t feel it. As a former gymnast (although things have changed A LOT since I competed, I do understand where she is coming from but with everything she’s been through, there had to be something she could grab. Right?

I still don’t get Rashad and haven’t since the beginning. I think he’s a good dancer but beyond that, nothing. He just doesn’t do it for me and that’s okay with me. I know that not every “star” is going to each season.

While I love Normani and believe she is, by far, the best dancer left standing, I think it would be the cat’s meow if David wins. I truly think he is what this show is and should be all about even though it hasn’t been like that over the years. Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s a popularity contest and, in order to enjoy the show, you have to be okay with it but, just once, I’d love, love, love to see someone like David come out on top!!! (And, no! I’m not a Cubs fan!)

May 17, 2017 9:43 pm
Reply to  Lincee

Thank you!

May 16, 2017 7:00 pm

Loved, “I don’t know if the gold sash represented gold or her partner Sash-a. Perhaps an homage to both?” 🙂

May 16, 2017 8:21 pm

I thought Len’s reaction when Simone was eliminated was totally uncalled for. He put his head in his hands with disgust.
If they don’t want it to become a popularity contest they need to distribute the weight of the “call in” votes differently. Until then; David won fair and square and if the producers invite him on the show he has the same chance as any other contestant and shouldn’t be shamed for making it further than another contestant.

May 17, 2017 9:56 am
Reply to  tracee

Totally agree. They all looked so shocked and so appalled that Simone was the one going home. What??? They are the reason she went. They harped and harped on her non-stop throughout the season, and last week she just couldn’t take it from Carrie Ann. So she finally spoke up. They goaded her into that comment, and as a result she went home.

May 17, 2017 11:59 am

I agree! I had to do a double take because I though Ryan Gossling had snuck in as one of the dancers! A girl can dream right!

I was sad to see Simone go, but I think her none smiling/judges comment got her. I actually yelled go Simone when she said it because I felt as if the judges had been really hard on her. I agree she needed more facial expression, but that was on Sasha after the first few weeks to try to tap into. As my mom told me, she is so musclular with that athletic build that she just didn’t look like a graceful dancer. She looked like a gymnast.

I love Normani – she is so much fun to watch! But I agree, David is what the show is all about!

Ross Burton
Ross Burton
May 17, 2017 3:12 pm

Simone dumped on the night she got two perfect score (her first)? Somebody must be mathematically challenged, viewer votes notwithstanding. David, I mean whaaaat? Same score as Normani? Rashad is OK, but in a truly just world, Normani is a lock! Just, that is, if the Beyonce dancer hadn’t been eliminated earlier. Seems like not enough weight is [laced on the expert judge’s opinion.

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