“Dancing with the Stars” is known for wringing tears out of the audience during its Most Memorable Year theme night, but Instagram model Alexis Ren‘s tribute to her mother might have been one of the show’s most heartbreaking ever. “On Mother’s Day 2014,” Ren told her pro partner Alan Bersten, “my dad came downstairs to my room and he said, ‘Something’s wrong with mom.’ My mom had stage-four cancer … She fought a long battle for six months, and I’ll never forget those months with her.” Then the following January she got the call from her sister that their mother had died.
Ren watched that clip package live with the “DWTS” studio audience, which makes it all the more impressive that she held it together for her performance: a contemporary routine to The Fray‘s “How to Save a Life.” Contemporary is the most purely expressive, emotional dance style performed on “DWTS,” so it was the perfect fit for this heart-on-her-sleeve expression of love and loss. It was a beaut of a performance, if you could see it through your glassy eyes.
Judge Bruno Tonioli thought Ren “danced like an angel,” with “true feeling and beautiful movement.” Carrie Ann Inaba felt that Ren “gave us all a beautiful gift … an elegant, poetic legacy of your mother.” Len Goodman was moved too, though he noted a few moments of the dance that he found too “staccato” and “sharp.”
Tonioli and Inaba gave Ren 9s, while Goodman scored the performance an 8, which was a surprisingly conservative mark given the emotions involved and how contemporary routines tend to score much higher than other styles on “DWTS.” That gave Ren a total of 26 out of 30, which is a great score, but on such a competitive night it was only good enough for fifth place, tied with DeMarcus Ware and four points behind Juan Pablo Di Pace, who got the season’s first perfect score. Did Ren deserve better from Goodman? Vote in our poll below to let us know what your favorite performance of the night was.
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