If her words and her performances on Monday night were any indication, Lindsey Stirling is a competitor and she really wants to win “Dancing With The Stars.” Stirling and her partner, Mark Ballas, pulled out all of the stops and were one of two couples to receive perfect scores on both performances during the first night of the show’s two-night finale.
Prior to their first performance, a video clip explained that Stirling and Ballas, who are both currently touring around the country for Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour, have been rehearsing in the early morning hours after their tour stops.
“When I step off stage, we rehearse until 3 a.m.,” Stirling said.
The first dance was an assigned quickstep, a dance style that Ballas and Stirling struggled with earlier in the season. Julianne Hough, a former contestant and judge on the show, provided tips via webcam to help Stirling with her hold and posture. This time the judges all agreed the couple’s quickstep was, as Len Goodman put it: “Awesome.”
“You scoundrels, that was criminally good,” judge Bruno Tonioli said.
“To me, I really do believe that you are the most improved,” Carrie Ann Inaba said to Stirling. “Truly, there’s something so magical about what I’m seeing tonight.”
The second round, and perhaps the most important dance for any couple on “Dancing With The Stars,” required that each couple perform a freestyle dance.
“Freestyle should be your brand or your mark,” Ballas was seen explaining to Stirling. It quickly became clear that Ballas did not take this statement lightly as he choreographed a dance that told a story of a conductor who gets swept away in the music. The brilliance of the choreography was not lost on Stirling.
“Mark is such an amazing partner and he’s done this 19 seasons and he’s only won twice. I’m going to get emotional but I really want to win this for him,” Stirling said in a video before the performance. “I want to win it for myself too. I want to live up to what Mark Ballas has done. That’s a lot of pressure. I’m going to put all the cards on the table and not hold anything back.”
The highlight of the performance came when Stirling emerged from a circle of dancers with violin in hand. Clearly in her element, Stirling appeared better than ever with the instrument and charisma that has endeared her to audiences worldwide. But it was clear that over the course of the competition, Stirling’s dancing has, as Inaba said, improved.
The crowd roared following the performance, even as the judges gave their feedback.
“No one cares what any of us have to say,” Inaba said. “What is so incredible is it couldn’t have been a better showcase of your incredible uniqueness.” Stirling responded by pointing to Ballas’ brain.
Declaring the competition “the war on the floor,” Goodman said he has no clue who is going to win the Mirror Ball on Tuesday night. The finale airs Tuesday night on ABC.