Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez revealed on the “Dancing With the Stars” season 23 semifinals that her beloved grandmother Bruni, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, had died while she was rehearsing for the show.
“DWTS” recorded Laurie’s visit with her grandmother at her Old Bridge assisted living center 10 weeks ago, as she was gearing up for the show, and in Monday night’s pre-recorded package, Laurie teared up as she discussed her grandmother’s failing health. “I kind of feel bad because I’ve been away from home for so long, so I haven’t been able to see her as much as I used to, and she’s not doing so well, but I think I’m gonna see her soon.”
Her grandmother died the next day.
Laurie and her pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy performed an elegant foxtrot, although she did have to wipe away tears in the middle of the performance and at the end.
“I saw you breathing into every move, using all of that emotion and channeling it into something beautiful for all of us to watch,” Carrie Ann Inaba told her. The florid Bruno Tonioli offered this bit: “You looked like you were flying, guided by an angel.” She earned straight 10s.
Laurie’s strongest competition is race car driver James Hinchcliffe, who upped the difficulty factor by taking the lead with a blindfolded Sharna Burgess for the Argentine tango, which he ended with a handstand above his partner. They earned a 29.
Reality show star Terra Jole and Sasha Farber did a rumba, which brought Carrie Ann to tears and earned the couple their first straight 10s. Actress and singer Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko performed a light-hearted quick step for a 28. Football player Calvin Johnson and Lindsay Arnold’s unconventional tango had chemistry but also a noticeable slip-up, earning the lowest score of the night with 26.
In the trio round, James and Sharna chose Jenna Johnson for their jive, racking up straight 10s. Terra, Sasha and guest Artem Chigvintsev danced a tango that earned another set of 10s. Jana and Gleb brought on Alan Bersten for a paso doble also got a 30. Calvin and Lindsay invited Witney Carson for a salsa, and they earned a — yep — 30. Laurie, Val and his brother Maksim joined forces for a frisky samba that Carrie Ann called their best dance ever. Need we add that they also got straight 10s?
The eliminated couple, based on last week’s judges’ scores and viewer votes, was Terra and Sasha.