Adam Rippon was a ‘bird of paradise’ in contemporary dance dedicated to his mom on ‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’ [WATCH]

All the stars aligned for Adam Rippon in the semifinals of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” He performed a contemporary routine, a style of dance that almost always draws big scores from the judges. He dedicated the dance to the MVP in his life, his mother, which gave the routine major heart-tugging appeal. And he danced to the song “O” by Coldplay, which he actually skated to at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

“It really embodies a lot of my own story,” said Rippon about the song and the dance. “I came out in my early-20s, and my mom was always there for me. It didn’t matter to her. At the end of every day she was always there to tell me she loved me.” And the judges loved it too. He received 10s from Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and guest judge David Ross, and a 9 from Len Goodman, who thought the dance was a little “spiky.” Those were the only 10s the judges gave out on Monday night, and at the end of the evening Rippon advanced to the finals with Tonya Harding and Josh Norman.

Do you think this routine solidified Rippon’s front-runner status? See what the judges had to say about his performance below, and vote in our poll at the bottom of this post to let us know if you think Rippon deserves the Mirror Ball Trophy.

David Ross: “That was beautiful. The strength moves at the beginning were very impressive to me. You just felt so connected through your dance, whether you were together or apart. That was by far my favorite dance of the night.”

Len Goodman: “Obviously I liked the emotion of the dance. It had great control mixed with flair … But it was a little bit stop-and-start on occasion, and spiky. I only say what I see. It’s the best dance I’ve seen tonight, so I’m not saying it was [bad]. Well done.”

Bruno Tonioli: “You were like two birds of paradise, mesmerizing and enchanting. But what is extraordinary is how in-tune you are with each other and with the music. You’re like the same instrument playing simultaneously. It was impossible to tell who was the professional … This is a masterpiece of a dance.”

Carrie Ann Inaba: “That choreography, as fluid and easy as you made it look, was very challenging. Jenna was wobbling on occasion — not to point out nit-picky stuff. Really that shows how challenging it was. I love that you push yourself that hard. What is amazing is that I just wanted to thank you. This is why artists create, to have moments like this where it’s just pure perfection.”

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