'Dancing with the Stars' live blog: The Season 16 finale performances

dancing-with-the-stars-season-16-finale-mark-ballas-aly-raisman-abc.jpgIt's the "Dancing with the Stars" Season 16 performance finale! And, for the first time on the show, there are four couples competing -- Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff, Aly Raisman & Mark Ballas, Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough, and Zendaya & Val Chmerkovskiy.

Any of the remaining celebrities could win the Mirror Ball this season. It all depends on these last few dances. Check out all of the performances and finale scores here.


The finale performances begin with the Judges' Pick Round.

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff -- jive

It's probably good for these too to start all casual-like. It's also probably good to throw in Jacoby's splits at the beginning. Technically, this looks good, but I don't think Jacoby is as into his performance as usual. Anxiety from Len's technique criticism?

Len: "There was improvement. The footwork was a bit better."
Bruno: "Are you plugged into a nuclear reactor?" "You actually missed the beat quite a few times."
Carrie Ann: "You brought the swagger, and you know how to turn the house upside-down."

Scores: 9+9+9 = 27


Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas -- samba

The samba should work well for these too. Although I kind of wonder if the samba costumes are de-feathered versions of their African jazz costumes.

Oddly mud-colored costumes aside, this is an excellent dance. Aly does seem to be having fun. She also isn't being totally overshadowed by Mark -- a major feat for anyone who dances with the guy.

Bruno: "Prettier than ever! And cleaner and slicker than ever!"
Carrie Ann: "You've sort of become the combination of everyone else in the finale."
Len: "Lots of basic steps, which I like to see ... A little bit heavy in the legs for me."

Scores: 9+9+10 = 28


Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- quickstep

Knobbly bits ...

They talked at the beginning! Is that allowed?

I always have trouble trying to decide if a quickstep is good or not, technique-wise. It's too intricate to see easily on a small screen, especially when typing. So I go by performance. And this is an excellent performance -- the two dancers are having a lot of fun, and they honestly do look like there are magnets holding the mid-sections together.

Carrie Ann: "The one thing I was looking for was an improvement in your body contact. And I saw it!"
Len: "I was palpitating, perspirating, I got so excited, I was nearly flatulating!"
Bruno: "Technically, it was really a tour de force."

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30


Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy -- samba

There really isn't anyone in this competition (of the celebrities anyway) who looks more like a dancer than Zendaya. Whether she's getting her steps or not, the girl just looks right out on the dance floor. She does seem to have difficult steps -- and a whole lot of perfection in doing them -- throughout this. But only the judges can say if they're really perfect or not.

Carrie Ann: "That was a perfect combination of really blending the authentic samba."
Len: "That was eye-popping, show-stopping, jaw-dropping -- that's the samba!"
Bruno: "You're just incredibly fierce, child!"

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30


The first round done, it's time for the Cha-Cha Relay.

Each couple gets 40 seconds of cha-cha apiece. The best couple gets 5 extra points. 2nd place gets 4 points, 3rd place gets 3, and 4th place gets 2.

The dance order is 1) Kellie and Derek, 2) Jacoby and Karina, 3) Aly and Mark, and 4) Zendaya and Val.

Everyone having danced (incredibly well), the judges rank the dancers as follows:

1. Zendaya and Val
2. Kellie and Derek
3. Aly and Mark
4. Jacoby and Karina

Thus, the scores before the final round (Freestyle!!!) are:

1. Zendaya and Val -- 35 points
2. Kellie and Derek -- 34 points
3. Aly and Mark -- 31 points
4. Jacoby and Karina -- 29 points


Super-sized Freestyle round

Jacoby and Karina -- freestyle


This dance begins with a lot of people who are neither Jacoby nor Karina tap-dancing. It's cool, but they should have started dancing a little sooner. Once they do, however, this is a pretty cool dance. Very cool -- kind of like a much more sophisticated version of an end-zone dance. There are little kids tap-dancing by the end. Why not?

Also, Jacoby has shirt off. Win!!!

Len: "You got the freestyle-party started!"
Bruno: "I loved the sense of celebration. It was like watching a Mardi Gras parade down Bourbon Street."
Carrie Ann: "It was unique! But I am with Bruno ... I think you chose the right strategy for you."

Scores: 9+9+9 = 27


Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas -- freestyle

Lasers! Death-defying stripper/gymnastics poles! Strobe lighting!

And did I mention the stripper poles? I actually can't fault Mark at all on this one -- having a celebrity who can do cool pole dancing is fun. And they used their poles well. The dance seemed awfully short, but it was cool to watch.

Bruno: "That was futuristic with a touch of exotic ... I never seen anything like it."
Carrie Ann: "I've worked a pole ... And that is not easy to do!"
Len: "I'm dubbing you Alexandra the Great. Well done!"

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30


Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- freestyle

Hey, a pretty one! Not that there's anything wrong with the crazy and energetic dances we saw from Jacoby and Aly. But it's nice to see something a little different and more focused just on dancing. Especially when the dancing is as amazing as this. Very beautiful!

Carrie Ann: "Kellie, you just bared your soul on the dance floor and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen."
Len: "You were totally immersed in the dance, in each other. You drew everyone into the dance -- here it comes ..." [ standing ovation]
Bruno: "That really was a contemporary work of art."

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30

The judges wanted it to go to 11 ...


Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy -- freestyle

The beginning of this one is kind of like a music video -- fancy lighting and a techno-ish beat. Then they're dancing on a plain stage, which is less like a music video.

This is actually a very cool dance. It's different in its steps and style throughout. There is also an influx of kids at the end for some hip-hop dancing. I'm just going to assume that they arrived to make Zendaya look a little older. Cute kids though.

Len: "There were so many parts to that number, but it all came together and created a fabulous routine"
Bruno: "Zendaya, the teen idol is here to admire and inspire!"
Carrie Ann: "You brought it home! You sealed the deal!"

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30


So, the final rankings of the night are as follows:

1. Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy -- 65 points
2. Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- 64 points
3. Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas -- 61 points
4. Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff -- 56 points


Who do you think is going to win it all?

Photo/Video credit: ABC