Dancing with the Stars recap: Semifinals love blog, Season 29, Week 10

Dancing Trousers

The “Dancing with the Stars” Semi-Finals on Monday night, November 16, started with six contestants and ended with four who advanced to next week’s season finale to compete for the Mirror Ball Trophy. So who stuck around, and who fell just short? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as well as our commentary throughout the night.

The six celebs fighting for those four finale slots were “Bachelorette” star Kaitlyn Bristowe, Disney Channel actress Skai Jackson, “One Day at a Time” actress Justina Machado, rapper Nelly, “Catfish” host Nev Schulman, and figure skater Johnny Weir. Of those, only Skai and Johnny had ever landed in the bottom two before, which seemed like a bad sign since that indicated inconsistent support from fans voting from home. However, Nelly had the lowest cumulative score of any contestant left in the competition, so he needed those fan votes most of all.

Each of the celebs performed two routines. In one round they performed redemption dances to try to improve styles they performed once before: cha cha for Skai, tango for Justina, paso doble for Nelly and Kaitlyn, foxtrot for Nev, and salsa for Johnny. The other round required each of them to learn a new dance style, as usual. Three of them got the often-beneficial contemporary — Justina, Kaitlyn, and Nev — while Johnny learned jazz, Skai performed a Viennese waltz, and Nelly strutted his stuff with a jive.

The finals were on the line, so there was more pressure than ever for the contestants to keep up with the show’s increasingly rigorous pace. So who gave the best performances, who (if anyone) struggled, and whose journey was cut short right before reaching the finish line? Follow along below starting at 8:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

Cordell Martin, 8:00pm — Nervous for Skai. I just want her and Justina in the finals.

Daniel Montgomery, 8:01pm — Hard same.

Cordell, 8:01pm — I know Nelly is going to make it to the finals.

Daniel, 8:03pm — Oy, Tyra’s hat. It looks like a vinyl record transformed into a deadly projectile.


Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten (Cha Cha for Bruno Tonioli)

Daniel, 8:03pm — “The last time I did the cha cha, it was a total disaster for me,” Skai says. Oh we remember Skai. That was one of the hardest routines to watch this season because of how talented Skai is and how fully her brain  blanked in the middle of it. But Bruno helping her to improve her footwork is making it click for her. Fingers crossed!

Daniel, 8:07pm — Skai really deserved that comeback cha cha performance. She did a great job, precise but with great personality.

Jeffrey Kare, 8:07pm — They were both able to get tonight’s show off to a great start.

Cordell, 8:08pm — Let’s go Skai! Two 10s and one 9?

JUDGES — Bruno is “proud” of her “24 karat hip action,” and her legs were so much better. Carrie Ann Inaba thought it was “tight” and “crisp,” and an “amazing” comeback after her last tough performance. Derek Hough noticed how Skai was stronger and more relaxed, and he loves the gold dress, which accentuates her movements.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 27 out of 30

Jeffrey, 8:13pm — More like three 9’s, but still a great score nonetheless.

Daniel, 8:13pm — I think those scores were about right. Good that they’re saving something for the second round.

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber (Tango for Derek Hough)

Daniel, 8:14pm — Derek wants Justina to be smoother and less hoppy and steppy during the tango, which she performed as “Carrie” during “Villains Night.” He’s showing Justina how to stay low and flow across the floor. Derek is a great teacher, and Justina was pretty solid the first time, so I have high hopes for this one.

Jeffrey, 8:16pm — Very steamy, terrific!

Daniel, 8:17pn — Really smooth, great song choice with the “Moulin Rouge” tango.

Cordell, 8:17pm — Loved the intro.

Daniel, 8:18pm — I thought there was a little too much messing about up top. I wanted them to get into hold a little sooner, but that’s just a quibble.

JUDGES — Derek admired the attack, passion, and technique, and “no hops”! Bruno said Justina was “on top of it,” with a different intention that gave the dance the right feeling; it was “so much better.” Carrie Ann tells her, “You’re on fire tonight,” and there was a new “oozing sensuality” from her.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (10), Bruno (9) = 28 out of 30

Daniel, 8:19pm — Her first 10! But I think it won’t be her last tonight.

Cordell, 8:19pm — I’m expecting Nev and Kaitlyn to get perfect scores. Johnny will get all 9s. Nelly will get two 8s and one 9 for the first dance.

Daniel, 8:20pm — Alright, we’re gonna hold you to those prophecies.

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart (Salsa for Carrie Ann Inaba)

Daniel, 8:22pm — Johnny was in the bottom two last week even though he got a perfect score, so he really needs great dances tonight. He can’t afford a single mistake. Carrie Ann is coaching them for their routine because last time she didn’t think he was one of his best performances, and he actually landed in the bottom two that week as well, so he has twice as much reason to improve it this time.

Jeffrey, 8:25pm — Excellently skillful!

Cordell, 8:26pm — Much better than last time.

Daniel, 8:27pm — Fantastic footwork. They looked a little tangled on those underarm turns at the end, but they definitely improved

JUDGES — Carrie Ann is proud of them, and noticed the tangle in the underarm turns, plus a little mistake on the side-by-side. Derek acknowledges it was a tough routine with “power and finesse,” and he admires the Cuban heels he’s wearing too. Bruno thought Johnny got the feeling of action, reaction and connection, but he too noticed the little mistakes.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 27 out of 30

Daniel, 8:30pm — The judges noticed more mistakes than I did with just the underarm turns, so I was worried he’d end up with 8s.

Nelly and Daniela Karagach (Paso Doble for Bruno Tonioli)

Daniel, 8:32pm — Nelly is great at getting into the groove of a dance, but his technique isn’t quite there, and the paso doble requires a lot of precise technique and balance. Bruno wants him to refine his artistry in his shaping because last time he was a little stiff: he needs to use his lats instead of his shoulders.

Daniel 8:35pm — A lot better than I expected from Nelly, though maybe still a touch stiff in places.

Jeffrey, 8:36pm — Breathtaking!

Cordell, 8:36pm — Great job, Nelly.

JUDGES — Bruno could “see the artist,” and could feel Nelly’s “restrained power.” Carrie Ann thought he danced it with “power,” “presence” and control over his body, though there was a bit of a flat-footed moment. Derek said “there was definitely improvement,” and he had “captivating” focus throughout, but he wanted to see more attack during the song’s heavy percussion.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (8), Bruno (9) = 26 out of 30

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson (Foxtrot for Derek Hough)

Daniel, 8:38pm — Of all the celebs tonight, I’m the least worried for Nev. He has rock-solid technique and consistency, and I’m pretty confident he’ll nail a foxtrot. Derek thought Nev’s arms were too forward and his tush was too far out the first time, but since that was their week-one dance, it shouldn’t be hard for him to significantly improve it in week 10.

Cordell, 8:39pm — This is such an easy dance for Nev.

Jeffrey, 8:41pm — Very stunning!

Daniel, 8:42pm — That got good especially towards the end. I think he’ll probably peak later tonight though.

Cordell, 8:43pm — I’m not shocked he killed it. But it goes to show how consistent he’s been this season that his redemption dance wasn’t a disaster initially.

JUDGES — Derek loved that it was “classic” and “pure” with “absolutely control” throughout the entire routine. Bruno calls him a “class act.” His “bum was under control” and he never lost his frame. He also had great interpretation of the music, and he mirrors Jenna very well. Carrie Ann loved the heel leads and body contact; he has “mastered the technique” and “become a true ballroom artist.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Jeffrey, 8:44pm — And he gets the first perfect score of the night!

Cordell, 8:44pm — Told you guys lol

Daniel, 8:45pm — Honestly, I think that was more of a 9s dance to me.

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev (Paso Doble for Carrie Ann Inaba)

Daniel, 8:45pm — “There’s obviously been some history between us,” says Kaitlyn about getting Carrie Ann as their mentor. Last time she performed this style on “Villains Night” Carrie Ann wasn’t a fan of an unauthorized lift during the routine, and a fumble towards the end. This time she wants Kaitlyn to be ferocious.

Cordell, 8:46pm — No to that costume Artem lol

Daniel, 8:47pm — Actually, I wanna borrow Artem’s outfit. At least the jacket.

Jeffrey, 8:51pm — What an outstanding finish to round one!

Daniel, 8:51pm — Solid routine, but not sure Kaitlyn has the ferocity for the paso. She seems a little passive in it.

Cordell, 8:52pm — Another perfect score, they’ll over-score her.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann thought it was “passionate” and “powerful,” it was a “fantastic, fast, and furious paso doble.” Derek wanted more attack from her at first, but she sold him on her character by the end of the routine. Bruno thought it was “100% authentic paso doble.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Daniel, 8:54pm — Yeah, I’m just not feeling these 10s tonight.

Jeffrey, 8:54pm — Maybe we should listen to Cordell for who he thinks is going to win.

Cordell, 8:55pm — Told you guys how the first round was going to go lol

Cordell, 8:56pm –In the next round, Skai will get her first 30. Nelly will get all 8s. Nev or Kaitlyn will get a perfect score and the other will get a 27 or 28. Not sure on Justina. Not sure with Johnny either.

Daniel, 8:57pm — The good news for Justina is she gets to do her contemporary first before she can be compared to Nev or Kaitlyn.


Justina Machado and Sasha Farber (Contemporary)

Daniel, 8:59pm — Sasha wants this dance to be a tribute to their partnership. Justina says Sasha is a “perfect” partner with contagious enthusiasm for what he does. He calms her down and gives her confidence, and this dance style is all about trust. If she nails this, the judges had better give her a perfect score.

Cordell, 9:02pm — She better get a damn 30 lol

Jeffrey, 9:02pm — Beautifully poignant

Daniel, 9:03pm — Justina looked so joyous and elegant in that routine. Give her those 10s, dammit!

Cordell, 9:03pm — Lovely, the judges better keep it cute

JUDGES — Derek is feeling a lot of emotions towards the end of the season, and he tanks Justina because he loves watching her; she makes it look “effortless” with “beautiful arms.” Bruno appreciated its freedom of movement and sense of relief — “I love you.” Carrie Ann thinks Sasha has brought something “incredible” out of Justina. It was “beautiful,” “authentic” and “gorgeous.”

Daniel, 9:04pm — Sounds like she’s getting those 10s. Carrie Ann basically telegraphed that she’s giving her a perfect score.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:07pm — There you go!

Daniel, 9:07pm — Damn straight!

Cordell, 9:07pm — About time!

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten (Viennese Waltz)

Daniel, 9:08pm — They’re dancing to “Lonely” by Noah Cyrus, which Skai can relate to because working as a child actor made it hard for her to maintain friendships. I think she has a good shot at a perfect score with this routine because she has such great poise and posture that will serve her well on an elegant ballroom style.

Daniel, 9:10pm — She has such strength and grace and precision on ballroom styles that I’m mad they kept giving her Latin dances all season. This was one of her best routines.

Jeffrey, 9:11pm — Incredible!

Cordell, 9:11pm — That was beautiful.

JUDGES — Bruno thought it had the “poise” and “elegance” of a Vogue cover. He also admired the emotional connection Skai had to the dance while also maintaining the flow. Carrie Ann says Skai is an impressive young woman who expressed her vulnerability and took the routine to a whole different level. Derek compliments her “gorgeous” frame and her connection — “beautiful, exquisite,” “perfection.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:13pm — If that perfect score doesn’t catapult her into the finals, I don’t know what will.

Cordell, 9:14pm — She better get in!

Daniel, 9:14pm — I’m straight up splitting my votes just between Justina and Skai to get them in.

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart (Jazz)

Daniel, 9:17pm — It’s hard to know what a Johnny Weir jazz routine will look like since the style is usually so loose and open to interpretation. This could go either way. Johnny is looking back on his competitive figure skating career, which ended in 2012. He misses the training and competing, and “DWTS” reminds him a bit of those glory days.

Cordell, 9:20pm — He’s getting a 30.

Jeffrey, 9:20pm — Yeah, it looks like the kind of dance that would get a perfect score to me. They really brought it.

Cordell, 9:21pm — There were a few moments when he and Britt were out of sync.

Daniel, 9:21pm — I liked it a lot. More emotive than I expected. Great job

JUDGES — Carrie Ann “loved it” and it looked like he was “on cloud nine.” Derek thought it was “beautiful” and “a perfect representation of your partnership,” and he wishes he could give it an 11. Bruno called it “clean” and “clear” with “purity of line and form” with shades of Alvin Ailey and Jerome Robbins, “everything I love.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:22pm — Even Derek’s aware of all the 10’s tonight.

Daniel, 9:23pm — Again, though, this was more of a 9 for me.

Daniel, 9:24pm — At this point, though, there’s almost no chance Nelly is getting out of the bottom of the judges’ scores.

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson (Contemporary)

Daniel, 9:25pm — Nev should be able to handle a contemporary routine pretty easily. I could easily see this as another perfect score for him to put him on top of the leaderboard.

Daniel, 9:28pm — A predictably beautiful routine. I don’t know if I was expecting a teensy bit more just because I have such high expectations for him.

Jeffrey, 9:29pm — Quite a compelling and precised routine.

JUDGES — Derek was so transfixed that he almost forgot to judge, and Jenna aced her choreography. Bruno can’t believe Nev was that good without having done it before; every detail felt purposeful and precise. Carrie Ann was also impressed by the choreography, and she didn’t tone it down for Nev at all, and Nev was up to her level.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Nelly and Daniela Karagach (Jive)

Daniel, 9:32pm — I’m skeptical of how Nelly will handle the speed, precision, and technique required for the jive. And the clip package shows a lot of stress and tension between him and his partner trying to get it right. A surprisingly dark package before what’s usually a really lighthearted dance style.

Daniel, 9:36pm — Credit where it’s due: that was rough around the edges, but he kept up with the choreography better than I expected, and she didn’t take it easy on him with those steps.

Cordell, 9:37pm — He’s going to make it in the finals.

JUDGES — The judges all give Nelly a standing ovation. Bruno thought he “nailed it” and it was “almost miraculous.” Carrie Ann says, “What happened? That was incredible.” She thinks this was his long-awaited “breakthrough.” Derek also thought Nelly “nailed that routine.”

Daniel, 9:38pm — I mean, it wasn’t that good, judges.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:39pm — Must be an all-time record of perfect scores tonight.

Daniel, 9:39pm — There’s literally nothing that won’t get a 10 at this point tonight.

Cordell, 9:40pm — Wow!

Daniel, 9:42pm — Kaitlyn would have to straight-up fall on her face not to get 10s.

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev (Contemporary)

Daniel, 9:43pm — “Cowboy Take Me Away” reminds Kaitlyn of her best friend Lindsay, who died in a car accident 17 years ago. They played the song at her funeral because that’s what she wanted. And from the look of the costumes this is going to be a very country-western contemporary. And she’s already crying when listening to the song during training week. So this should be a strong emotional climax to the night.

Cordell, 9:47pm — Another 30 routine.

Jeffrey, 9:47pm — Even that backstory sealed the deal for her.

Daniel, 9:47pm — I liked how subtle that choreography was. I kinda expected Artem to load that up with lifts, but it was gentle and lovely.

Jeffrey, 9:48pm — Very moving.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann says we’ve never seen dancing at the level of these Semi-Finals. She knew Kaitlyn would be especially good at contemporary and she and Artem “come together as a very beautiful team.” Derek is tearing up and loved the storytelling. Bruno thought it was “powerful” and “beautiful,” and he gives an extra shout-out to the pros behind the scenes who made the show possible this COVID season.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (10), Bruno (10) = 30 out of 30

Daniel, 9:50pm — The last eight dances tonight ALL got 30s lol

Jeffrey, 9:50pm — Amazing!

Cordell, 9:50pm — I think Skai and Johnny are going.


1. Kaitlyn Bristowe — 30 + 30 = 60
1. Nev Schulman — 30 + 30 = 60
3. Justina Machado — 28 + 30 = 58
4. Skai Jackson — 27 + 30 = 57
4. Johnny Weir — 27 + 30 = 57
6. Nelly — 26 + 30 = 56


Daniel, 9:54pm — Sadly, I think Johnny is toast. It’s a matter of who the other ouster is I think.

Daniel, 9:55pm — The first finalist is Nelly (no surprise after those routines and scores), followed by Nev Schulman (duh, but well-deserved) and Kaitlyn Bristowe (no surprise there). Unfortunately, that means, Justina, Skai, and Johnny are the bottom three. The first celeb eliminated is … Johnny Weir.

Daniel, 9:57pm — Now it’s up to the judges to decide the last celeb who makes it to the finale, and I’m so disappointed it has to be between Justina and Skai because they both belong there.

Jeffrey, 9:57pm — I have a feeling that the judges are going to save Justina.

Cordell, 9:58pm — Damn Skai is going.

Daniel, 9:58pm — Derek votes to save Justina. Carrie Ann wishes she could save everyone, but after much deliberation she decides to save the more consistent high-scorer: Justina. Bruno agrees that Justina should have been saved That means Skai is officially eliminated. Sigh. I wish I hadn’t been expecting that.

Jeffrey, 9:59pm — Not too surprised to see her go, but still pretty sad about it.

Daniel, 10:00pm — God I wish they hadn’t over-scored Nelly for that second dance. That it came down to Skai and Justina bugs me.

Cordell, 10:03pm — Yeah, well, the producers made it easy for Nev and Kaitlyn

Daniel, 10:04pm — Gotta give props, though, to Britt for making it to the semifinals and Daniela for making it to the finals in their first season as pros.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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