‘America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ recap of February 3 semi-final episode [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Episode five of season two of “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” marked the semi-final stage of this year’s competition, featuring the 12 acts that advanced from the previous round based on either the Superfan vote or the Judges’ vote. From the group, the four acts to perform tonight that had earned the Judges’ vote were singer, dancer and accordion player Hans, dog tricks act Alexa Lauenberger and comedians JJ Pantano and Ryan Niemiller.

The other eight acts were voted through by the Superfans. They were: three acrobatic acts Duo Transcend, Sandou Trio Russian Bar and Duo Destiny, two magicians Dania Diaz and Marc Spelmann, and then singer Marcelito Pomoy, violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa and contortionist Strauss Serpent.

SEE ‘America’s Got Talent’ winners: Where are they now updates for first 13 ‘AGT’ champions [PHOTOS]

While Terry Crews has returned to host, there has been a shake-up of the judges. Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are still on the panel but the other two judges from last season’s “AGT” — Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union — are gone. In their place are long-time “America’s Got Talent” judge Heidi Klum and Simon’s pal from “Britain’s Got Talent” Alesha Dixon.

In this semi-final round, only half of the acts will advance to next week’s finale. The six acts to move on will be mostly determined by the Superfans vote–thisselect group of fans from all 50 states across the country will cast ballots and their top 5 will move on straight to the finale. The acts placing 6th and 7th with the Superfans will be put in front of the judges for the Judges’ vote and the act that the judges choose will be the sixth and final act to move on.

Read our minute-by-minute recap below to find out which four acts from Monday’s episode moved on in the competition.

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8:03 p.m. – The first semi-finalist to take the stage tonight was JJ Pantano, the 7 year old comedian who came to “The Champions” by way of “Australia’s Got Talent.” Once again JJ went all-in on his brand of roasting the judges for their personal and career lives. He definitely didn’t shy away from ripping them to shreds again and so the judges agreed that he stepped up his game and was as funny as ever. Howie especially appreciated how his nerves don’t come across at all.

8:10 p.m. – Next up was 12 year old violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa from season 14 of “AGT.” He and his mom prefaced tonight’s performance as being particularly emotional for him, tying it to his own battle with cancer and his desire to show the beauty of the world through his eyes. His rendition of “What a Wonderful World” was a stark contrast from the typically uptempo tracks he’d play on his violin while dancing across the stage and this time was accompanied by a guest vocalist. The panel loved that he showed a different side of himself, but Simon advised him that if he gets through he should do another beautiful song next time, but alone without the vocal.

8:14 p.m. – Tonight magician Marc Spelmann decided to perform as his alter ego X for the first time on “AGT” in order to underscore X’s message of hope. In his act he brought Terry on stage with a mask and blindfold to provide answers to questions that X was able to perceive correctly. Heidi didn’t think the performance was up to par and Simon didn’t think it was a progression up from their prior act, but Alesha was impressed and stood in support.

8:23 p.m. – The winners of “Poland’s Got Talent” Duo Destiny felt the pressure tonight considering there’s another acrobatic duo still in the competition. With that in mind they vowed to step up their game and take bigger risks. Their performance tonight involved a ton of strength and balance moves, some of which Howie questioned if they’d done them before for the show. Heidi called their performance “insane” and “incredible,” but Howie was underwhelmed due mostly to the repeated moves from prior rounds.

8:35 p.m. – In the previous round Simon hit his red buzzer for Hans, but he still advanced on votes from the rest of the judges. Prior to this performance he said it’s about “redemption, revenge and regret.” Ha! In the performance he addressed Simon and his haters directly in true comedic fashion and then an exciting performance of “Bang Bang” that included huge pink balloons, confetti drops and even a huge full splits moment! Honestly, Simon couldn’t even contain his own smile. Alesha called his act the best presentation of the night and Simon admitted to actually loving it.

8:43 p.m. – “Spain’s Got Talent” champion magician Dania Diaz reflected on the loss of her mom and how magic helped her overcome that and other life struggles. Tonight her act was both inspired by and a tribute to her mother. She began the act by taking a selfie with the four judges then transitioned into her style of magic by telling a personal story throughout her slight of hand tricks, then finished by having Howie show the selfie once again where she had already showed the ace of hearts which is the exact card that Alesha picked randomly in the course of the act. The judges loved that she performed the tricks up close to them and that she is so poetic and personal in her presentation. Howie recalled his own mother and confessed that he almost cried watching the performance.

8:55 p.m.Duo Transcend from season 13 of “AGT” came to “The Champions” for their chance to win instead of just making a name for themselves. With other acrobatic acts in the competition they admit to being a little nervous, but knowing that it’s their chance to prove that they can perform at their level. For this performance they upped their game by including other performers on stage to give the feel of a true circus atmosphere. They split their own time on stage between tricks on the trapeze and while spinning on roller skates. The judges agreed that creating the larger atmosphere of a circus added to the complete act and made it a step up from their previous performances.

9:06 p.m. – Champion from “Africa’s Got Talent” contortionist Strauss Serpent returned to the stage already stuffed into a box that should not be able to contain his entire body. He wasted no time bending his body into unfathomable contortions right in front of the judges, eliciting oohs and ughs from the crowd. Alesha said it was “brilliant and painful,” but she wondered if he would be saved by the Superfans once again. Heidi called him one of her favorite acts because he can do something that no one else on stage can do. Simon parted from them by saying that he didn’t get the “wow factor” this time around.

9:17 p.m. – Comedian Ryan Niemiller‘s journey on “The Champions” is about winning, a way of making up for the disappointment of not winning his original season. For his stand up set tonight he went in on his growing up years with his parents during the winter season in Michigan (mittens!). Heidi told him that he “lost her” a little this time around and she enjoyed his act more last time and then Simon compounded on that by calling it a “set you’ve done before.” As a comedian, Howie defended him and then Alesha stood in his corner as well.

9:22 p.m.Alexa Lauenburger and her dogs are the only animal act left in the competition, a great position to be in heading into the final stretch. Tonight the dogs showed off new tricks like jumping into tubes and then hanging in them (!), side and back flips (!!) and jumping over hurdles on two legs (!!!). Both Alesha and Heidi called the act perfect and Simon said that if an act could get the Golden Buzzer tonight that it would be them — reiterating that it’s the best dog act they’ve ever seen.

9:33 p.m. – Of all the acts this season, Sandou Trio Russian Bar is the one that is most seeking redemption from their previous appearance on the show. In order to prove their value to the competition they literally lit a fire under themselves tonight. Their flips on the Russian bar seemed higher and more dangerous than ever before tonight, especially when it finished with a final flip on a bar that was itself on fire! Simon thought the act was good enough for the final because of how they staged it, the music they chose and everything that they put into tonight’s show. I think the whole panel was in agreement that they should be one of the six to advance.

9:45 p.m. – And for the final performance, Marcelito Pomoy took the stage once again as the dueling voice in one (he sings perfectly in both tenor and soprano). Tonight he went back and forth between the two voices multiple times and then finished with one of the biggest (and highest) extended notes ever. Needless to say he earned a standing ovation from the judges and had Howie stating that he probably has the best chance at winning the entire show. Simon cautioned him that the “surprise is now over” in terms of his vocal talent and so next time he’ll have to take a bigger risk in order to wow.

9:51 p.m. – For the results, Terry brought the 12 acts on to the stage to hear who the Superfans voted through to the finals–half of them would move on and half of them would be eliminated. Between Hans and Strauss Serpent, the Superfans chose Hans! Between JJ Pantano and Tyler Butler-Figueroa, the Superfans chose Tyler Butler-Figueroa! Between Dania Diaz and Marcelito Pomoy, the Superfans chose Marcelito Pomoy! Between Alexa Lauenburger and Marc Spelmann, the Superfans chose Alexa Lauenburger! Between Sandou Trio Russian Bar and Ryan Niemiller, the Superfans chose Sandou Trio Russian Bar! And then finally, between Duo Destiny and Duo Transcend, the Superfans had voted the two acts in 6th and 7th and so Terry opened it up to a Judges’ vote. Simon voted for Duo Transcend. Heidi voted for Duo Transcend. Alesha voted for Duo Transcend, sending them to the finals and eliminating Duo Destiny.

10:00 p.m. – So the grand finalists are: Hans, Tyler Butler-Figueroa, Marcelito Pomoy, Alexa Lauenburger, Sandou Trio Russian Bar and Duo Transcend who will join Golden Buzzer acts Angelina Jordan, Boogie Storm, V.Unbeatable and Silhouettes. Which of the 10 acts is your favorite and who do you think will win?!

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