“Even though Janet is an amazing performer, the thing I admire most is that she is an activist. She isn’t afraid to speak up in what she believes in and use her voice for good. That’s really important to me,” said Skai Jackson when explaining her decision to pay tribute to Janet Jackson on “Dancing with the Stars” for “Icons Night.” She opened up about her experiences with racism and colorism throughout her life and career. So “the Black Lives Matter movement has meant so much to me,” she explained. Then the precocious 18-year-old actress brought that power to the dance floor with her paso doble. Watch it above, and see what the judges had to say about it below.
Carrie Ann Inaba: “First of all, yes, thank you for sharing your story, and yes, Black lives matter! I’m so proud of you for using your platform in the right way. But I’m more proud of you for giving us this fierce paso doble. When Janet came out with this album [1993’s ‘janet.’] she channeled a new fierceness and took it to another level. That’s what happened tonight. You channeled a new fierceness — when you did the spin and you said, I’m stopping now, we were like, what?! Amazing, you’re amazing.”
Derek Hough: “For someone so young, you are strong, powerful, and confident. And starting on your own like that was bold and brave, so well done. Again, to echo what she said, that turn … I was like, whoa! And the kick here. I will say there’s a few moments still when you spot … and also, watch your arms. You don’t want to actually have tension in the arms. It’s an illusion. If you have too much tension it ricochets. The energy comes from your back, and it’s relaxed, but listen, those are some technical terms. Overall, that was a great routine.”
Bruno Tonioli: “Respect, my darling! I tell you, this is one of the most grown-up dances we have. You lived up to it. Intense purpose, strength, beauty, power. I’m telling you, you did a fantastic job.”
That mature, fierce, poised performance earned her straight 9s from the judges for a strong total of 27 out of 30, but before she got those numbers she made sure to tell her young fans watching from home, “It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, your voice does matter. Use it for great just like I do, and I love you guys so much.” And those fans kept her in the competition: after viewer votes were added to the judges’ scores, Jackson sailed through to next week’s semifinals. Do you think she deserves to win the Mirror Ball Trophy in a couple of weeks?
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