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'Dancing With the Stars' results recap: A duel to the finish

May 2, 2012 |  4:00 am

"Dancing With the Stars"
Well, that was as close to a surprise elimination as we’ve seen this “Dancing With the Stars” season. Ultimately, “Family Matters” star and erstwhile Steve Urkel, Jaleel White, and his pro partner Kym Johnson were ousted after a nail-bitingly close Dance Duel rumba in this seventh week of competition.

Once again, the decision came down to the judges, in the final Dance Duel of the season. And the judges unanimously opted for fellow bottom-dwellers Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower to stay overJaleel and Kym (the low-scoring team of Melissa Gilbert and Maks Chmerkovskiy were saved by viewer votes). The judges thought Jaleel had started off strong but lost confidence and connection as the routine wore on. Roshon, however, maintained a laser-like focus on the rumba and his partner.

Though it didn’t help that just before the dreaded dance duel Jaleel deemed Len “the old guy outside the grocery store who won’t give you any money for candy.”

Maybe he shouldn’t have bit the hand that feeds him. At least not right before he decided his fate on the show. And although he did have dancing talent, Jaleel seemed a little too slick and intense to really engage both with his partner and the competition. Ah well. He may not have left with a Mirrorball trophy, but at least he has a talking koala to keep him company outside the glitterverse.

"Dancing With the Stars"The results came at the tail end of an exhaustingly overstuffed results hour. Len Goodman announced the encore performance: Maria and Derek’s perfect-30 scoring paso doble. Though I didn’t like it as much this time around -- I much preferred Maria putting her teeth into Derek’s teeth and dragging him across the floor. This time around, Derek Van Helsing put a stake to vampy Maria and killed her in the end instead. “The alternate ending –- usually you have to wait for the DVD extras for that,” noted Tom. 

We got a taste of the next generation of “DWTS” pros in the Ballroom Battle finale. After preliminary rounds on, the remaining three pairs of young amateur dancers, led by Cheryl Burke, Tony Dovolani and Louis Van Amstel, came out for a no-holds-barred jive relay. The judges had all of about 10 seconds to decide, and after a bleeped-out word and some live show shenanigans, the trio deigned Team Cheryl the winners of the first-ever Ballroom Battle trophy — kind of like a Mirrorball mini me. (Here’s what I imagined Tony thinking as he clapped and smiled at Cheryl’s victory: Why does she get to win everything?!)

The season’s last AT&T Spotlight Performance was another tearjerker, highlighting the heartbreaking and inspiring journey of Richard “Steelo” Vazquez. A successful dancer who’s performed with the likes of Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliott, Steelo was sidelined almost a year ago with a near-fatal brain aneurysm that left him without the ability to talk or dance. After countless hours of rehabilitation and therapy, he made his first public performance on stage with his group, the Groovaloos, on Tuesday night. To see him standing there at the end was an emotional triumph of the human spirit — one that inspired the audience to rise to their feet and chant, “Steelo, Steelo!”

Gavin DeGraw’s back! This season’s also-ran returned to Sparkledome with his singing hat on, to perform his single “Sweeter.” “During his five weeks on the show, he proved that as a dancer, he’s a great singer,” said Tom. And he was very welcome back into the ballroom. Loved that partner Karina Smirnoff came out to dance alongside Louis Van Amstel during his performance. Gavin would have never attempted that side-to-side headshake with nearly as much confidence had he not been a contestant on the show. Good times!

Oh, and Mark Ballas is going to the prom with someone in the studio audience, and she could not have been more thrilled!

What did you think, ballroom fans? Were the judges right to send Jaleel home this week? How cute was it when William Levy waved at Jackie Evancho (“the little girl”) before their performance Monday night? Didn’t Jackie remind you of Sally Draper getting all gussied up for a big night out? Do you think Bruno has ever ridden the Cyclone at Coney Island?

— Allyssa Lee


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Top photo: Derek Hough and Maria Menounos. Credit: Adam Taylor / ABC

Bottom photo: Jaleel White and Kym Johnson. Credit: Adam Taylor / ABC