‘Dancing with the Stars: Juniors’ Semi-Finals Recap: Who danced their way to the grand finale? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

It was the beginning of the end for “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors”on Sunday night, December 2. The final four contestants performed two routines during the semi-finals. So who made the best impression going into the season finale, and who (if anyone) was sent home? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute updates as they happen.

The remaining four celebs and their pro partners began the night with the usual individual dances. “Avengers” actress Ariana Greenblatt and pro partner Artyon Celestine took on a foxtrot. Dancer and singer Mackenzie Ziegler and her partner Sage Rosen went into battle with a paso doble. Skateboarder Sky Brown and JT Church treated us to an Argentine tango. And “Black-ish” star Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold performed a cha cha.

Then came something a little different. The second round was dance duos, during which the teams paired off. The two highest scoring celebs of the season going into the semi-finals were Miles and Mackenzie, so on paper it looked like they had an advantage when they joined forces. But Sky and Ariana saw their scores rise dramatically in recent weeks, and both had received 10s from the judges by the time they teamed up.

Also, Sky was still the front-runner to win the competition, according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users, so perhaps her team had the winning formula after all. Find out which duos danced it better and who moved on to the grand finale below starting at 8:00pm (all times listed are Eastern).

Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen (mentored by Gleb Savchenko)

Paso doble – “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga

8:02pm — I’m excited/nervous to see Mackenzie perform a paso doble. It’s far from the sweet persona we normally see from her, and it could be an opportunity for her to break out. She has been uneasy about the judges’ comments, which have mostly been positive but have usually had some quibble or criticism.

8:05pm — Paso is one of my favorite dance styles, and Mackenzie did it justice. It’s easy to forget that she’s only 14. It was a passionate, intense, and well choreographed routine.

JUDGES — “That was absolutely unreal … I felt like you were in control the whole time,” says Mandy Moore. And it made Adam rippon scream like he wanted her to. And Val Chmerkovskiy thought she “tastefully” broke the rules with her paso doble. Thank goodness Carrie Ann Inaba and Len Goodman aren’t on this judges’ panel then.

SCORES — Val (10), Mandy (10), Adam (10) — Total: 30 out of 30

8:08pm — Not gonna lie, I’m shocked by those perfect 10s. She hasn’t gotten a single 10 before now, and while that performance was truly excellent, it wasn’t so drastically better than some other routines in recent weeks. It feels like the judges are just determined to break out the 10s tonight.

Sky Brown and JT Church (mentored by Alan Bersten)

Argentine tango – “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons

8:12pm — Here’s another dance style that feels contrary to what we’ve seen from Sky before, but she has been up to almost every challenge thus far.. “I’m going to be a strong boy!” says JT, promising to perform the lifts Alan is going to challenge them with. But Alan is being such a tough coach this week he actually made Sky cry. But she got her mojo back in the end. “I never want this to end,” she said.

8:14pm — Sky nailed that dance, especially in hold. I do think Alan might have over-choreographed it a bit. There was so much going on it didn’t always flow as elegantly for me.

JUDGES — Adam says, “I feel like you and JT have maybe the best chemistry out of everybody competing. You’ve grown so much … You killed it tonight.” Val adds, “That was a really tough routine … You have the power to change the course of what people imagine.” Mandy concludes, “You dive 100-percent in,” but she still had problems with her foot “biscuits” during lifts.

8:18pm — Sky thanks the judges again and thanks JT for lifting her. She says, “I might be little, but I’m really heavy.”

SCORES — Val (10), Mandy (9), Adam (10) — Total: 29 out of 30

8:19pm — “It’s that kind of night,” said Val before he whipped out his second 10 in a row (and only the second 10 he’s given this season period). I love Sky, but those scores seemed a bit high to me. I’ve complained about these judges being overly conservative with their scores before, but it feels like they’re overcompensating in the other direction tonight.

Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold (mentored by Lindsay Arnold)

Cha cha – “Shake Senora” by Pitbull feat. T-Pain and Sean Paul

8:22pm — Miles is still filming “Black-ish” all week, so he once again had to learn the dance over video. If he’s at the same level he normally is, he’d better get on that 10 train. He’s struggling during the dress rehearsal given his limited time to actually train with his partner. Fingers crossed!

8:24pm — Silly me for worrying about Miles. That routine was jam-packed and Miles was just about perfect. Every movement was sharp and precise. My favorite routine of the night.

JUDGES — Val says, “Miles Brown looked like James Brown,” and it had “the most power” he’s ever seen in a cha cha, and he was “electrifying,” but he wanted more connection between Miles and his partner. Mandy thought it was “fantastic,” and she loves how he clearly loves to dance. Adam concludes, “You were born to perform,” and “it completely shows.”

SCORES — Val (9), Mandy (10), Adam (9) — Total: 28 out of 30

8:27pm — I pretty much expected the 9 from Val given his criticism about Miles and Rylee’s connection — I don’t know what he was talking about — but that 9 from Adam was ridiculous. There is no justification for that being the lowest scored dance of the night so far.

8:30pm — Does ABC want to get Miles eliminated so he can focus on “Black-ish”? It felt like the judges went out of their way to hold his score down on that one.

Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine (mentored by Brandon Armstrong)

Foxtrot – “We’re All in This Together” by “High School Musical” cast

8:32pm — I love the idea of a foxtrot for Ariana. She has proven herself with the more swaggering dances, but now she has to be elegant. The way the judging is going though, she’ll be perfect and get 8s.

8:33pm — Okay, Ariana seemed a little stiff to me. She hit her moves, but she didn’t look as comfortable as she has for previous dances. Part of that might have been the song, which I didn’t like at all for a foxtrot.

JUDGES — Mandy thought it was “pretty darn good,” “full of class” and “gorgeous.” Adam adds, “You blew it out of the water. It was great.” Val concludes, “You were the coolest kid in that school … the foxtrot frame was there, the foxtrot content was there.”

SCORES — Val (9), Mandy (9), Adam (10) — Total: 28 out of 30

8:36pm — If that had outscored Miles’s performance I would felt more sure that the fix is in, but the fact that Miles  and Ariana’s routines tied still feels like it didn’t have much to do with the actual performances.

Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen with Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold

Samba/Jazz Fusion — “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus

8:41pm — The dreaded samba! But at least it’s being fused with jazz, so they can be a little fast and loose with the choreography. I feel bad for Miles having to prepare for basically a group routine without being able to train with his three partners. Couldn’t they have written Miles off of “Black-ish” for an episode or two so he could devote his attention to this full time?

8:44pm — Once again Miles has to learn a dance from a distance, and once again he was flat-out perfect. He’s by far the best celeb in this competition, and given Mackenzie’s prior dance experience Miles was basically dancing with three pros, which makes his performance even more impressive.

JUDGES — Mandy says, “I have been waiting for that routine all season long … clean, incredible dancing.” Adam says Mackenzie is “having one heck of a night tonight,” while Miles had the most “power” on the entire team. And Val said it was “easily the best performance of the season … simply awesome.”

8:46pm — I agree wholeheartedly, judges! That was a superb piece of choreography and performance.

SCORES — Val (10), Mandy (10), Adam (10) — Total: 30 out of 30

8:47pm — Mackenzie ends with a perfect night, while thankfully Miles improves his numbers. Miles has deserved a perfect score for a couple of weeks now, so I’m glad he finally got one. Did I mention that Miles deserves the Mirror Ball Trophy?

Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine with Sky Brown and JT Church

Jive/Foxtrot — “369” by Rhett George

8:51pm — Okay, this combination of dance styles sounds a little wacky. I’m not sure how well those styles will mesh, but in terms of group chemistry, having Ariana and Sky, Artyon and JT, and Alan and Brandon together feels like a perfect combo. “Team Small’s got it all!” said 10-year-old Ariana and Sky about going up against the older team.

8:54pm — I absolutely loved that routine when it was a jive, though I think, again, the uptempo music clashed with the foxtrot portion of the routine.

JUDGES — Adam says, “You guys show what girl power is all about.” Val adds, “The two of you are a hit show in the making … The level of difficult was out of this world.” And Mandy thought it was full of “wow moment after wow moment, but it was “a little off on a couple of timing things.” I’d agree with that assessment.

SCORES — Val (10), Mandy (9), Adam (9) — Total: 28 out of 30

8:57pm — Again, I was surprised by Adam’s 9. I expected it from Mandy given her criticism about timing, but not from Adam.


The studio audience votes are in, and the eliminated couple isNO ONE! They’re all going through to the finale, and “DWTS” once again traumatizes innocent children for dramatic purposes. You guys made Sky cry again!

Judges’ Leaderboard:

1. Mackenzie Ziegler — 30 + 30 = 60
2. Miles Brown — 28 + 30 = 58
3. Sky Brown — 29 + 28 = 57
4. Ariana Greenblatt — 28 + 28 = 56

Final Predictions Results:

Who will be eliminated? No One

Who will get the HIGHEST score? Mackenzie Ziegler (60 out of 60)

Who will get the LOWEST score? Ariana Greenblatt (56 out of 60)

How many 10s will the judges give out? 10 or More — 11 to be exact

Which judge will give the MOST points? Val Chmerkovskiy and Adam Rippon (58 out of 60)

Which judge will give the FEWEST points? Mandy Moore (57 out of 60)

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Sunday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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