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‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 32 crowns champions

Earlier this month, the beloved dance competition TV show “Dancing with the Stars” wrapped up its 32nd season with an exciting finale after an 11-week adventure. The show features celebrities with minimal dance experience paired with a professional dancer from the show's permanent cast, learning how to dance over the course of three months. 

This season was hosted by Season 19 winner and returning host Alfonso Ribeiro, as well as former judge and professional dancer, Julianne Hough. The latter’s brother, Derek Hough, returned for his fourth season as a judge, alongside Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, both of whom have judged the show since its first season in 2005. 

In addition to the three permanent judges, this season featured an increased circulation of guest judges, including Michael Strahan, Billy Porter, Niecy Nash, Paula Abdul and Mandy Moore. These judges filled the fourth chair behind the judges' desk, which was left unoccupied after the death of Len Goodman, the show’s head judge of 31 seasons. 

Goodman announced his retirement from the show at the end of Season 31, and passed away approximately five months later. The show’s symbol of victory was renamed the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy in his honor, and was awarded to this season's champions, Xochitl Gomez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy. 

Runners-up to Gomez and Chmerkovskiy were Jason Mraz and Daniella Karagach, followed by Ariana Madix and Pasha Pashkov in third place. Fourth place went to Charity Lawson and Artem Chigvintsev, with Alyson Hannigan and Sasha Farber holding fifth place. 

In order of their elimination, the rest of the celebrity contestants were Matt Walsh, Jamie Lynn Spears, Tyson Beckford, Adrian Peterson, Mira Sorvino, Mauricio Umansky, Lele Pons, Barry Williams and Harry Jowsey. 

With a scoring scale of 1-10, the recipients of the season’s first 10s are always recognized as contestants to look out for. The first 10s of the season went to Gomez and Lawson during the fifth week of competition, themed “Most Memorable Year.” Week Five also included a tribute dance for Len Goodman, choreographed by Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson. The waltz to “Moon River” was danced by current and returning professional dancers, and evoked the most tender emotions from those who worked with Goodman so closely. 

The following weeks were rich with excitement and new challenges for the dancers. Week Six: Monster Night included a hustle and Charleston dance marathon, of which Gomez and Chmerkovskiy were the victors. 

Week Seven: Music Video Night included team dances, which were scored and added to the individual scores of the team participants. Team Young’n Style, consisting of Jowsey, Pons, Gomez and Lawson, danced their segment to “Gangnam Style,” which received the first perfect score of the season. In addition to the team dances, an extra twist was added to the individual dances: the highest-scoring couple would be exempt from the following week's dance-offs, a privilege granted to Madix and Pashkov due to their high score of 37 out of 40.  

The next week was Whitney Houston Night, during which Gomez and Chmerkovskiy earned the first perfect score for an individual dance. The night included three dance-offs which were each won by Hannigan, Williams and Lawson. 

The semifinals came around in the tenth week, and each couple was tasked with performing one ballroom dance and one Latin dance. The night was a standout for each couple, all of them demonstrating the growth, energy and skill of champions. Audiences held their breath during the elimination announcement, knowing that each dancer deserved a place in the finale. Fortunately, this was a decision the judges agreed with, and no one was sent home. For the first time in history, a “Dancing with the Stars” finale would consist of five couples and last three hours. 

The finale took place on Dec. 5. The scores of the previous week were combined with those of the final dances. Each couple performed a redemption dance, coached by one of the judges on how to improve a dance from earlier in the season, and a freestyle dance. The night also featured the return of eliminated dancers, a victory lap dance performed by Season 31 victors, Charli D’Amelio and Mark Ballas, and a performance from Mraz of his song, “I Feel Like Dancing.” 

The only couple to earn a perfect score of 120 was Gomez and Chmerkovskiy, which, in addition to audience votes, granted them the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy. Despite the next highest score of 118 going to Lawson and Chigvintsev, both Madix and Mraz ranked higher than her on the final leaderboard, a demonstration of the power of audience votes. 

Season 33 of “Dancing with the Stars” has yet to be announced, but it will most likely follow the pattern of airing in late September of 2024. If the upcoming season follows other traditions of previous seasons, audience members are in for even more excitement, challenges and phenomenal demonstrations of skill and determination than in seasons before. 

@sophiarooks_

sr320421@ohio.edu

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