The semi-finals of Dancing With the Stars season 28 air on Monday, November 18. The 5 celebrities still in the competition are Lauren Alaina, Ally Brooke, Kel Mitchell, Hannah Brown, and James Van Der Beek.
James Van Der Beek, who was partnered with dance pro Emma Slater for the season, has stayed consistently toward the top of the leaderboard, and his natural dance ability and charisma has proven, week after week, that he could very well walk away from the competition as a champion with the Mirror Ball Trophy.
In week 8, James and Emma earned their first perfect score of the season, which made it seem like Emma and James would be the couple to beat; coupled with the fact that they’ve never ended up in the bottom two, it seemed as though they have an all but guaranteed place in the finale.
Last week, however, James’s scores slipped on the leader board for Boy Band and Girl Group night. He and Emma started the show with a Jive that earned them four 9s from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, and special guest judge Joey Fatone. For their second dance of the night, they performed to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.” Although their jazz routine earned a 10 from NSYNC’s own Joey Fatone, Len gave the performance an 8 because he believed it lacked jazz content; their second score of the night was, again, a 36 out of 40. They earned 72 points out of a possible 80.
While a 72 is an excellent score, it landed James and Emma right in the middle of the leaderboard heading into the week 9 semifinals. Ally Brooke and Sasha had a perfect score of 80 out of 80, landing them at the top, and Kel Mitchell and Witney.
Falling just behind James and Emma at the bottom of the scores were Hannah and Alan with a total of 71 points and Lauren and Gleb with a total of 70. With just a 10 point difference between the highest and lowest scores, it truly is anyone’s season to win. James and Emma will have to step it up and bring their A-game and encourage all of their fans to vote if they want to make it into the finals.
After the week 8 live show, Van Der Beek took to Instagram to reflect on the experience with his 814,000 followers. He wrote “Two dances… learned in six days. Countless hours of rehearsal. One shot to do it in front of millions of people, live on television. And so far… zero regrets. Thank you @theemmaslater for being creative and talented and awesome. And to the entire pro cast for your pointers and support and enthusiasm. And to @vanderkimberly for not only making it possible for me to do this, but shining while she does it. And to everyone who keeps voting for us to allow this crazy train to keep on rolling. Two more new dances to start learning today.”
Emma reacted to the night on her own Instagram account, telling her over 734,000 followers “We made the Semi Finals!!!!! Thank you so so much to those who have voted for us and supported us. It’s crazy to think that this show changes lives because essentially it’s a mere entertainment show (albeit a great one!) but it does change lives. Those of whom are in the show and hopefully sometimes those who aren’t. Anyone who allows themselves to be affected by the show, thank you so much. For me, the impact it has is deep and usually overwhelming each season. I don’t know how it still catches me off guard. Almost like the impact is brand new each time. I’ll throw my life into a world where I just want to deliver for my partners and to protect them through the process. Throughout it all, I’m constantly aware that I’m so in love with life and it’s because I can be a part of something so meaningful to me. So I’m sorry to ramble, I just really really wanted to let people know how grateful I am for their support and that my partner @vanderjames & I don’t take it likely and we hope we can bring you some joy on Monday night, because we definitely feel it ourselves.”
Tune in to new episodes of Dancing With the Stars season 28, live on Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.