LAURIE HERNANDEZ

Next up are Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy, dancing their freestyle to “Brand New” by Ben Rector. Their freestyle is inspired by Laurie’s youthfulness and is played out on a playground. Incorporating elements of gymnastics and Laurie’s youthful spirit, they complete their freestyle.

Bruno Tonioli calls out the energy, adding that it was “the embodiment of the spirit of youth.” Carrie Ann Inaba says she delivered by being so uplifting, while Len Goodman calls it “a joyful experience.” Julianne Hough calls the performance incredible and fresh, adding that Laurie even wore her favorite color: sunshine yellow. They score a perfect 40.

Watch Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy’s Joyful Freestyle

Welcome to the first night of the season 23 finale! Couples will perform two dances—a redemption style dance, which will include dance styles picked by the judges such as the paso doble and tango, as well as the always-creative freestyle dances. Tonight, head judge Len Goodman returns to the panel and performances will include Grammy Award-winning Train and a dance inspired by the upcoming film “La La Land,” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. One couple will be sent home tonight, falling just short of the coveted Mirrorball trophy. The winner will be announced in the season 23 finale tomorrow night, which will also include performances from previous cast members and the remaining contestants’ final dance together: the 24-Hour Fusion Challenge.

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According to ABC, “Laurie Hernandez burst onto the Senior Elite gymnastics scene in 2016, just in time for the Rio Olympic Games where she won Silver in the individual balance beam and secured Gold in the team All-Around. Her goal had always been to make an Olympic team, and her dream came true!” Her dream to appear on “Dancing with the Stars” also just so happened to come true this year.

Now in its 23rd season, “Dancing with the Stars” is hosted by Tom Bergeron and sports broadcaster Erin Andrews. The judging panel is composed of ballroom experts Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli. Their scores, along with America’s votes, determine who gets to stay and who is sent home each week as couples vie for the coveted Mirrorball trophy.

The remaining contestants include Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez with Val Chmerkovskiy, former NFL wide receiver Calvin Johnson Jr. with Lindsay Arnold, country singer Jana Kramer with Gleb Savchenko, and IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe with Sharna Burgess. This season’s star-studded line-up included Jake T. Austin, Rick Perry, Vanilla Ice, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Amber Rose, Maureen McCormick, Ryan Lochte, Marilu Henner and Terra Jolé.

Part two of the “Dancing with the Stars” finale starts tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of their performance tonight? Sound off in the comments section below!

Photo credit: ABC