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‘Dancing With the Stars’ Week 9: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Head To The Finals

Warning: This recap of Week 9 of Dancing With the Stars contains spoilers.

It’s Dancing With the Stars semi-finals time, and you know what that means: Double the dances, triple the nitpickiness, and an absolutely devastating elimination just when the mirrorball trophy is so close the contestants can taste it.

This week the dreaded Judges’ Challenge was back,  with Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough, and that grumpypants Len Goodman all tasked with challenging a couple with a specific… er, challenge, for their dance. Round two featured the stars taking on a dance style they haven’t tackled yet. Easy peasy at this stage of the game, right?

Well, not so fast. With the threat of elimination looming just one week before the mirrorball champ is crowned, the pressure was on for semi-finalists Simone Biles, Rashad Jennings, Normani Kordei, and David Ross.

Unfortunately, even back-to-back perfect scores couldn’t save Simone Biles. One week after she issued the clap back heard around the world, the super smiley Olympic gymnast shook off her early goodbye after introducing her sassy alter ego, Zoë, to the world. Biles went out on a high note: Her arcade-themed jive and a final rumba with Sasha Farber earned the most decorated American Olympic gymnast of all time her first perfect scores from the DWTS judges.  Not exactly gold medal material, but certainly better than bronze.

While the judges were in utter shock over Simone’s unexpected elimination (Len Goodman buried his head in his hands, absolutely devastated), Simone said she was thankful to be a part of the competition.

“I learned a lot and I matured,” she said. “And I’ll be back next week for the finals.” No tears here, unless you’re counting Len.

Here’s how the couples who will compete in the DWTS finals did.

Normani Kordei and Val Chmerkovskiy:  36/40 + 40/40

Len Goodman’s Challenge: 12 bars of Viennese waltz in proper hold.

The judges are especially eagle-eyed when it’s the semi-finals. While Normani and Val’s waltz was a vision in black and white (the only color was Fifth Harmony star’s magenta dress), a tiny, little stumble cost the couple a point. Len praised the duo for dancing “a very specific dance” and doing exactly what he said, but  Julianne reminded them that every little thing (and even the tiniest misstep) counts this week.

For their second dance, Normani and Val danced a perfect-scoring jazz, which Carrie Ann said looked “effortless” and Julianne called “outstanding.” But Bruno said it best, telling the singer: “You’re a diva, you’re a star!” As if Grandma Barbara didn’t already know this.

Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater: 38/40 + 39/40

Bruno Tonioli’s Challenge: Clean up the hands and feet in rumba.

Bruno thought he set Rashad up to fail with a challenge to work on his extremities, but the NFL star exceeded all expectations during his rumba with Emma Slater. Carrie Ann called the dance “elegant,” while Len praised the “beautiful fluidity through the arms,” although he noted Rashad still does some funky things with his size 14 feet.

Later, Rashad and Emma’s quickstep was a “match made in heaven,” according to CAI. Len liked the star’s frame but he said the dance was good, not great.

David Ross and Lindsay Arnold: 34/40 + 36/40

Julianne Hough’s Challenge: Get that booty under!

David Ross has a problem with his butt: He sticks it out when he dances, in case you haven’t noticed. Leave it to Julianne to show up at rehearsals with an armload of lemons to help remedy the problem. As David’s pro partner Lindsay said, “When life gives you lemons, you put them between your butt cheeks.” And it worked!  The couple’s Fred and Ginger-inspired foxtrot made Julianne proud: “You squeezed your lemons!” she told the World Series champ. Carrie Ann praised the star’s “improved posture,” while Len said his brain was telling him one thing (the “thing” being the dance wasn’t “great”), but his heart was telling him something completely different.

The couple’s follow-up tango had Julianne assuring the athlete he is the show, although lift cop Carrie Ann called him out after she spotted his foot coming off the floor. Len said nothing gives him more enjoyment than watching the MLB star dance, and clearly, the DWTS audience is thirsty for more as David (and his lemons) head to next week’s finals.

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of DWTS for free on Yahoo View.

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