03:47 PM EDT 08/24/2014
Originally posted 05/21/2013 09:25AM
It wasn't just teary-eyed viewers who were left speechless after Kellie Pickler's flawless, dramatic freestyle performance with Derek Hough on Monday night's Dancing with the Stars finals. The country starlet herself was also at a loss for words.
"I just feel like I let all of my walls down and I just got out there and just did my little dance," Pickler, 26, told PEOPLE backstage after her performance. "I just let myself go. There was a freedom, in a sense, that I felt. I really don't even know how to put it into words. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I feel like I've accomplished so much being here."
Hough, 28, who admitted he and Pickler struggled with the routine during rehearsals, said, "We were super, super nervous, but right before we went on there, I kind of gave Kellie a little pep talk. I was just like, 'This is your dance. There is nobody here that can do this dance but you. This is what you're meant to do.' "
Originally posted 05/20/2013 10:30PM
The final four couples performed three routines each on Monday's Dancing with the Stars. By the end of the night, one pair were in the lead with a perfect score for all three dances.
However, the episode kicked off with an imperfect – though energetic – jive.
Karina Smirnoff and partner Jacoby Jones – who judge Carrie Ann Inaba previously called "the number one entertainer of season 16" – were told by judge Len Goodman that they showed improvement, but that "you got excited at times and lost it."
Originally posted 05/20/2013 08:00PM
Who's going to take home the coveted mirror-ball trophy?
The top four couples on Dancing with the Stars – Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough, Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas, Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy, Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff – are hitting the ballroom one last time Monday night in hopes of earning high scores from judges and lots of votes from viewers to win the competition.
And the competition is fierce! Kellie and Zendaya have been clear frontrunners from the beginning, while Alexandra has also scored big and Jacoby is finishing strong, charming the judges and picking up enough votes to make it to the finale.
We want to hear from you about Monday's show. Share your thoughts on Twitter @peoplemag and we'll post the best Tweets right here.
Originally posted 05/13/2013 04:15PM
She's made the reality television leap from singing on season 5 of American Idol to tearing up the parquet each week on Dancing with the Stars, but even Kellie Pickler thinks there's an Idol alum she'd rather see getting fake tanned and sequined.
Katharine McPhee "would do amazing," Pickler told PEOPLE while at the 20th Annual Race to Erase MS event in Beverly Hills.
The "Best Days of Your Life" singer doesn't have to stretch her imagination too far to explain why she feels the Smash actress would dominate on Dancing with the Stars.
"First of all, she's an amazing performer – obviously a very talented singer," says Pickler, 26, "but if you've seen her show Smash, she's dancing. I really don't think there's anything she can't do."
Originally posted 05/13/2013 01:25PM
Originally posted 05/06/2013 10:25PM
Three's a crowd?
Hardly for one competitor, who snagged the season's first perfect 30-point score on Dancing with the Stars on Monday.
The trio of 10s came appropriately enough on threesome night, when the stars each teamed up with two pros for the second round of dances.
The trio dances added complexity and sass – and at one point had one judge melting down in an angry clash with his colleagues.
Originally posted 04/29/2013 10:30PM
The ballroom heated up on Monday night's Latin-themed Dancing with the Stars.
Seven weeks into the competition, almost all of the remaining couples came up with impressive routines. But it was Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas who landed their first 10s of the season, with a salsa that Len Goodman – who gave the pair a nine – called, "tasty and refreshing."
The pair got 10s from the other two judges, which put them at a total of 29 points out of 30. They also received an additional three points for winning a dance-off against Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess.
Raisman and Ballas tied with regular high-scoring duo, Derek Hough and Kellie Pickler, who wowed judges with their samba to Ricky Martin's "Shake Your Bon Bon."
Originally posted 04/23/2013 10:15PM
It was another week of low scores for Andy Dick and Victor Ortiz, who performed on Monday's Stevie Wonder-themed episode of Dancing with the Stars.
Dick and partner Sharna Burgess struggled through an 18-point samba and earned 25 additional points for their group dance as part of Team Samba. And Ortiz and partner Lindsay Arnold failed to impress the judges with their rumba, which earned 18 points. They later added 22-points as part of Team Paso.
Did Dick or Ortiz get the boot at the end of Tuesday's elimination episode? Or was there a surprise dismissal? Read on to find out ...
Originally posted 04/22/2013 10:40PM
Stevie Wonder was the guest of honor Monday night on Dancing with the Stars. Between performances by the iconic singer, the eight remaining couples competed with two dances each to his hits.
Once again, Kellie Pickler and Zendaya were atop the leaderboard – and both earned 10s for their respective routines.
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy's cha cha to "Do I Do" was "full of snap, crackle and pop," according to Len Goodman. Carrie Ann Inaba called the routine "perfection in motion." They earned 29 points.
Kellie and Derek Hough's quickstep to "Part-Time Lover" was "the best dance I've seen on season 16," Len said. Carrie Ann added, "Everything about it was perfect except there was some space in your hold." They also earned 29 points.
But Kellie and Derek finished slightly ahead of Zendaya and Val after the second routine, a team dance in which four couples performed at the same time.
Originally posted 04/15/2013 10:00PM
"Our thoughts are with everyone in Boston tonight," host Tom Bergeron said at the start of Monday's Dancing with the Stars. "My heart is with you."
After opening the show with those somber words of support for those affected by the tragedy in Boston, Dancing's hosts, judges, celebrities and professional dancers went ahead with the performance show, which featured Len Goodman's side-by-side challenge.
They remaining couples had to perform routines simultaneously with another pair of professionals – a tough task for all the dancers. But one pair managed to pull off the first 10s of season 16.
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