The two-hour live season finale of “Dancing with the Stars” Tuesday night captured the holiday season with simultaneous happenings at the Grove and inside the ballroom. Throughout the night favorite dances from the all the eliminated contestants and even the three finalists were recreated. A hilarious Santa skit with Gary Busey, Victor Espinoza, and Paula Deen was presented. Bromance was also in the air with a funny montage. Musical guests from the Season 21 cast and others treated viewers to excellent performances. Closing out the last half hour of the finale were the fusion dances by the finalists: Bindi Irwin, Nick Carter, and Alek Skarlatos. At the end a champion reigned.
The Grove, part of L.A.’s historic Farmers Market, featured an outdoor stage where a big crowd could see their favorites perform. It was a stark contrast to the ballroom’s intimate setting. Highlights of favorite dances included Kim Zolciak-Biermann finally returning to dance her long-awaited “I Dream of Jeanie” samba with Toni Dovolani. Tamar Braxton was not able to attend; though it would have been nice to see her and Val perform their funky Charleston. Carlos PenaVega and the pros danced to “Magic Mike’s” featured song “Pony” outdoors with Santa caps. Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas gave another stellar performance from “Breaking Bad’s” theme song. Hayes Grier and Emma Slater were stunning with their contemporary from Week 4. It was announced Hayes will be joining the “Dancing with the Stars: Live!” “Dance All Night Tour” in select cities.
Andy Grammer performed his hit single “Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)” that was a crowd pleaser. Joining Andy was Chaka Khan for their charming Christmas duet classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Special musical guest Elle King performed her latest “Ex’s” and “Oh’s.” This song by Elle and her cover version of “American Girl” were used in Alek and Lindsay’s routines during the season. Favorite dances were showcased by the finalists that included Nick and Sharna’s “Downton Abbey” Viennese Waltz, Alek and Lindsay’s jazz routine to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” and Mark Ballas on guitar and Alexander Jean performing live as Bindi and Derek danced the Viennese Waltz to “Roses and Violets.”
Short films were added in as comic relief with Gary Busey as Santa, Victor Espinoza as one of Santa’s elves, and Paula Deen as Mrs. Claus in “’Twas the Night Before the Finals.” Busey’s eloquent reading of the holiday tale made it even more memorable. Tom Bergeron introduced a tongue and cheek bromance of Carlos and Alek, first with their cruise trip and then blossoming into the rehearsal studio. Finally the competition started getting into high gear with the fusion dances. Nick and Sharna danced a Salsa-Tango that was on fire and earned them a 30. Alek and Lindsay once again had the Rumba, in addition to the Tango. Alek actually improved on the challenging Rumba from the night before. The couple earned a 27 and an announcement was made afterwards. Alek will be the featured celebrity for the upcoming “Dancing with the Stars Live! Tour” starting next month on the road. Bindi and Derek brought the house down with their perfectly scored Argentine Tango and Cha-Cha.
Back at the Grove the two finalists were onstage with Nick Carter as he performed his newest single “I Will Wait.” Tom made the announcement of who came in third place which was Alek and Lindsay. Alek apologized to Lindsay, but all was good for their remarkable journey. Now the moment everyone’s been waiting for during the two-hour extravaganza. The winner of the Mirror Ball Trophy and Season 21 champion was none other than Bindi Irwin and now six-time champion Derek Hough. Season 22 will begin on March 21, 2016 on ABC.