“I’m really excited that we’re doing something with this whole butterfly motif because I’ve always loved the symbolism,” said Lindsey Stirling while preparing for her “Ballroom Night” quickstep with pro partner Mark Ballas, who flexed his conceptual muscles on a unique piece of choreography that allowed Stirling to transform. But it wasn’t just a gimmick, it was also deeply personal for Stirling. “In my own past, I’ve struggled with depression, and there was a time when I felt so ugly and so worthless,” she explained. “I remember thinking as I worked through therapy feeling like I would rather stay a caterpillar than fight in this cocoon. I made it through the really dark times, and I want to show that there is light at the end of that tunnel.” Watch Stirling’s quickstep above.
Stirling tied for the top score on the judges’ leaderboard in the season premiere episode, but on “Ballroom Night” she was one of the earliest performers, which may be part of the reason why she was scored more conservatively, receiving straight 7s for a total of 21 out of 30. That put her in a tie for sixth place with Nikki Bella. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba commented, “That creativity — fantastic. And what a great way to express [Lindsey], the star of that number … You have this natural elegance,” though Inaba pointed out that Stirling should work to keep her neck from being too far forward.
Len Goodman added, “Such creative choreography — I loved it. It was light, it was bright, it was fun,” though he dinged Stirling and Ballas for not performing enough of the dance in hold. And Bruno Tonioli described it as “a psychedelic trip, an extravaganza I was never going to expect, and she was flying high. You push your partner always to the limit, and I like that.” But Tonioli also had a critique, telling Stirling that she needs to pay more attention to finishing her arm movements more cleanly.
If nothing else, Stirling’s luxurious butterfly costume — matched by Ballas’s butterfly-accented tux — merits Emmy consideration in 2018 for Best Costume Design. Make it happen, TV academy! What did you think of Stirling’s performance? Vote in our poll below to let us know.