After all of the hype — and nearly two hours of filler material — Dancing with the Stars 4 finally crowned its champions. And the winning couple is… Apolo & Julianne.
Most of the evening leading up to the big announcement was spent on video packages recapping everything about Dancing with the Stars: the three previous seasons, various international versions of the show, the finalists’ journeys, how the dancers compare to one another, interviews with family and friends.
There was a dance by the professionals offering a sneak preview of the DwtS Tour. Tony, Elena, Alec, Edyta, Brian, Cheryl, Jonathan, and Karina danced a combination Waltz/Quickstep to Bjork’s "It’s Oh So Quiet."
The final three couples had to dance one more time to get their final scores from the judges. Each couple could repeat any routine they’d performed previously. Rather than picking routines that had already earned straight 10s, the couples chose to redo performances that weren’t quite perfect the first time.
Apolo & Julianne were up first, reprising their Paso Doble. They corrected a minor slip they’d had in their first performance, showing the precision they developed over the course of the season. Carrie Ann said, "You are such a team, and you really, really work together."
Joey & Kym followed with their Star Wars Tango, hoping to improve upon the 8s they earned the first time. Seeing this dance again, it was amazing how straight and gimmick-free the bulk of the choreography was — if not the costuming. Len told Joey, "You’ve been trained, but you’ve never been tamed. Kym has allowed you to just develop your own self."
Laila & Maksim were the last couple to perform, bringing back their Mambo. The most noticeable difference was Laila’s abundance of confidence and the way she was able to dance with abandon. Bruno told her, "You’re like the last standing Amazon, coming out and knocking us all down."
It came as no surprise that the judges awarded all of the couples perfect scores, leaving the leaderboard unchanged. Personally, though, I thought Laila’s 30 was the most deserved.
After the performances, it was time to announce which couple had finished in third place. Tom announced, "Laila & Maksim," prompting Laila to sit on the edge of the stage and pretend to cry.
After thanking the hair, makeup, and costume departments, as well as her partner, Laila commented on the DwtS experience with her trademark wit: "I’m really happy for whoever wins tonight. Of course I’m pissed I didn’t win."
Then it was time for the first eight couples eliminated to give a farewell performance, dancing about 45 seconds from one of their favorite routines. Based on these mini performances, it was apparent that Shandi, Leeza, Clyde, and John didn’t retain a whole lot from their time on the show.
Tom went on to ask each of the eliminated celebrities what they’d miss least from Dancing with the Stars. When Paulina said she wasn’t fond of being judged, Tom said, "Luckily, it didn’t happen long," prompting Shandi, Leeza, and Clyde to slap him.
Clyde, who was seated, still grabbed the microphone (just like he always did when Samantha interviewed him after dances) when Tom asked him the same question, and Billy Ray plugged his new album instead of giving Tom an answer. Some guys never change.
Before announcing the winning couple, Samantha asked the previous trophy winners if they had any advice for tonight’s champions. Drew said to enjoy the experience because "you’re going to be associated with this show for a long, long time." Emmitt said that, thanks to Dancing with the Stars, it’s as if he’d "never played football before in my life. I’ve become a ballroom dancer to America."
Finally, Apolo & Julianne were announced as the winners of DwtS 4. Apolo and Joey each thanked their proud partners, and when Apolo & Julianne held their disco ball trophy aloft, none of the tiny mirrors fell off.