• Tue, May 24 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Chelsea, Hines, and Kirstie’s Final Freestyles

It’s the finale! Although I hate how long and drawn-out the final two episodes are, I love how they force contestants to up their game. The freestyle dance in particular is a favorite, because after a whole season of Latin dancers struggling through waltzes and classic dancers forcing themselves through sambas, this is a chance for everyone to cut loose. Finalists Chelsea Kane, Hines Ward, and Kirstie Alley all brought energy to the floor for their freestyles last night. But who will win?

Chelsea Kane has been strong all season, but for whatever reason – perhaps it’s her youth not meshing well with an older audience, or perhaps it’s her gimmick-obsessed pro partner Mark Ballas – she just hasn’t caught fire. Her Latin-influenced freestyle was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t as engaging as it could have been. The light-up shoes were a cute touch, but it looked like Chelsea’s died out halfway through the dance, which is awkward. Overall, I think she’s worthy of the traditional Disney Kid Second Place Award (hi Kyle Massey!), and she has great potential.

I’ve been Team Hines for most of the season, and his freestyle was exactly what a freestyle on this show needs to be – fun, dynamic, and exuberant. He and partner Kym Johnson did a marching-band inspired number to the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” and it was a blast. They really deserve to win.

Although Kirstie Alley has not been the best dancer this season, I’ve really admired her commitment and enthusiasm. For her freestyle with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, they started out doing a slow, romantic dance and then switched into a peppy, upbeat number halfway through. She even did a cartwheel! I’m a good bit younger than Kirstie, and I can’t do a cartwheel, so I have to give her credit for that one. She and Maks looked like they were having a great time together, and the audience was really into it. Even if she goes out in third tomorrow, she has a lot to be proud of.

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