Scripps National Spelling Bee breakout Akash Vukoti was the youngest contestant on “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors” this season — a fact he reminded us of with a speech on Juniors Choice Night — and he was never the most proficient dancer, but he made up for that with his good-natured charm. Unfortunately, after weeks of struggling to keep up with his fellow contestants’ scores he was finally voted out on Giving Thanks Night, but he still found it in his heart to give thanks at the end of the evening. Watch his final routine above.
Vukoti dedicated his Giving Thanks dance to his family, so mentor Witney Carson conceived a jazz number in a Bollywood style to the Oscar-winning song “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire.” Carson choreographed a routine with simple enough steps that it didn’t overwhelm Vukoti, but with enough content to give him a chance to shine. So even if he had to go out, at least he went out on his highest note.
Judge Val Chmerkovskiy called it Vukoti’s “best dance of the season … That takes a lot of discipline, a lot of hard work.” Mandy Moore also thought it was “really good” and praised his coordination in executing such a challenging routine. Adam Rippon also thought it was Vukoti’s best work and told him, “You should be very proud of yourself.”
Vukoti had never scored higher than 7s for the entire season, but this time he got 8s from Chmerkovskiy and Moore and a 7 from Rippon, giving him a total of 23 out of 30. That was his highest score yet, but the competition has advanced to the point where it still wasn’t enough to save him from the axe. He landed at the bottom of the leaderboard, and he was eliminated after his scores were combined with studio audience votes. He made a classy exit, though, delivering another sweet speech on his way out: “I’ll go home tonight with lifelong memories to cherish,” he told the audience. He could teach a lot of adult contestants a thing or two.
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