05:24 PM EDT 03/07/2014
Originally posted 11/26/2013 11:00PM
Twelve weeks of sweat – and a lot of tears – have led up to Tuesday night's season 17 finale of Dancing with the Stars.
Finalists Amber Riley and Corbin Bleu were the season's regular leader board frontrunners, while Jack Osbourne improved tremendously since he began, and touched people with his life story.
But it was Amber who won the mirror ball.
Originally posted 11/26/2013 04:30PM
Dancing with the Stars is a marathon. And for those dancers who make it to the final weeks, it's an endurance test for the heart as much as the body.
Behind the smiles, often, there are tears – of exhaustion, frustration, relief and every other emotion you can experience.
"I had a cry in my car at one point. I had to pull over because I was just so worn out and tired," Jack Osbourne told PEOPLE backstage after Monday's show.
Originally posted 11/26/2013 12:25PM
Not only were the judges in awe of Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff's Michael Jackson-centric freestyle routine on Monday night's Dancing with the Stars – but it sounds like the King of Pop himself would have enjoyed the number if he were still alive.
"He came to the High School Musical concert in Vegas," Bleu told reporters backstage after learning he'd successfully made it through Monday night. "When I went and did my bit in the concert, Kenny [Oretga, the choreographer] leaned over and said, 'Michael leaned over to [me] and said, who is that? And I said, 'That's Corbin Bleu.' And Michael said, 'He's good.' I still get goose bumps thinking about it. It was one of the coolest things for me."
Calling his encounter with the icon "the highlight of my life," Bleu describes Jackson as having "such a presence," explaining, "He's extremely tall [and] he's got big ol' hands when you shake them."
Originally posted 11/25/2013 10:30PM
With Dancing with the Stars contestants in the final stretch of season 17, Monday night saw another couple sent home.
Just before a newly crowned champion will be named on Tuesday, Jack Osbourne, Bill Engvall, Amber Riley and Corbin Bleu battled it out for a shot at winning the coveted mirror ball trophy.
At the end of Monday's episode, Engvall and partner Emma Slater ended up with the lowest score – and were sent packing.
Originally posted 11/25/2013 05:00PM
Karina Smirnoff is a former Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy in season 13 with J.R. Martinez. The longtime competitor has been blogging for PEOPLE about competing with former High School Musical star Corbin Bleu in season 17.
I'm just enjoying this whole process. At this point, you can't control what's going to happen from anyone's side. The only thing we know is that we're having a blast and we're trying to figure out how to fit in all these dances. The workload this season is ridiculous. We've had to pretty much learn more than one dance per day.
We get nervous about the quality. How do you manage to work, polish and give great quality with such little time? So it's like you don't eat, you don't sleep, you don't use the bathroom. They say sleep is overrated. I respectfully disagree.
Originally posted 11/25/2013 11:20AM
Corbin Bleu is a former High School Musical star, now competing on season 17 of Dancing with the Stars with season 13 champion Karina Smirnoff. This season, the Disney alum has been blogging for PEOPLE about his experience on ABC's hit show.
At the beginning of rehearsing for this week, I was about to pull my hair out. I had no idea how we were going to get through it. We have five dances to do. So there's so much press and everything, and the amount of interviews that I'm doing is cutting into rehearsal time. It's craziness. It's like finals in school. It's hell week.
I expected the season to be a lot of hard work. Everyone warned me that it's one of the most time consuming and physically and mentally draining processes to go through. But what you don't realize is how much goes into it with production. You're constantly debating back and forth with what song you're going to dance to. Sometimes you'll submit a song and they won't necessarily let you choose that song. Then you have to rework the entire dance concept. Then you have to figure out lighting and costumes.
Originally posted 11/19/2013 01:15PM
Bill Engvall feels hopeful that he just may beat out the competition on Dancing with the Stars, and his confidence comes from his strong partnership with Emma Slater.
"I feel like I could win this thing," Engvall tells PEOPLE as the duo head to the finals. "Not alone though!"
"I have such great fans and a wonderful partner, that I just think the stars are aligning. If they don't, I'm fine with that, but I can imagine [winning] now."
Originally posted 11/19/2013 07:55AM
It sounds like Maksim Chmerkovskiy has found his calling.
The once hot-tempered Dancing with the Stars professional, 33, showed off an entirely new side when he acted as guest judge during the show's semi-finals on Monday night. His much more relaxed demeanor received praise from many, including his ex-fiancée, Karina Smirnoff and her partner Corbin Bleu.
"He did a superb job," Smirnoff, 35, raved to PEOPLE at an after party for the show at Mixology 101 in L.A., right after learning she'd be in next week's finals. "He's been on our side as a dancer. He knows how much work we put in and how many hours of rehearsals it takes. I was looking forward to him being the Maks that we all know who doesn't have a lot of filter, but he was actually very nice. I don't know [why he was being nice], but I liked it. I'll take that Maks over the other Maks any day."
Originally posted 11/18/2013 10:30PM
It was another exciting night in the ballroom on Monday's Dancing with the Stars.
There was laughter, tears and even an unexpected smooch during the show's semi-finals, which featured former cast member Maksim Chmerkovskiy as a guest judge.
As usual, Bill Engvall and partner Emma Slater ended up with the lowest overall score for their two routines – a cha cha and an Argentine tango both set to LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." Their goofy cha cha that got them 28 points out of 40 was poorly received by judges, but they left them impressed with a serious 32-point Argentine tango that Chmerkovskiy raved was "exactly what an Argentine tango is supposed to be like."
Was the fan favorite able to make it through another week and land a spot in next week's finals?
Originally posted 11/18/2013 04:05PM
Karina Smirnoff is a former Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy in season 13 with J.R. Martinez. The longtime competitor is blogging for PEOPLE.com about competing with former High School Musical star Corbin Bleu in season 17.
We have two dances this week, and they are really exciting. We almost wish the songs were longer. It's really cool to find elements that connect the two dances – not just story lines, but within the choreography, the steps, the props, everything. Our second dance is a prequel to the first. It's very exciting. They are dark and mysterious and dangerous.
Corbin and I were talking the other day about the shocking eliminations this season. Even after the first week, I think people had a certain idea of who they thought would be in the final four. Many of the couples who people thought may go all the way have already been eliminated. It's a very unpredictable season.
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