HARD work, sheer determination and a big heart that inspired judges, audience and contestants. Those were the characteristics that took Bindi Irwin to the finals of Dancing With the Stars US and solidified her place in the hearts of audiences at home and overseas.
She and partner dance Derek Hough took to the stage in the first night of the finals today performing a popping Quickstep that Dancing With the Stars pro dancer Tony Dovolani described as "amazing".
"Absolutely out of the park," he said about the couple's first of two performances for the night.
"Frame, posture, feet, speed, quickstep, it was amazing.
"I thought it had everything you could possibly want."
Each of the four couples dancing in the first of two nights of finals, performed a ballroom dance before coming back to the stage with a freestyle routine, with the hopes of impressing the judges and the voting audiences in what has been one of the most competitive seasons the show has seen.
Tony spoke with Bindi and Derek before they performed and confided Bindi was his pick to win the eight-week competition from the start.
"I said this girl is going to be in the finals," he said.
"She is dynamite. I love her, I love her family. I said if she's not in the finals there's something wrong."
Bindi's dance partner Derek put the couple's success through the series down to consistency and Bindi's determination to do well no matter what it cost.
"The thing with Bindi is you'll say 'how do you feel' and she'll say 'I feel fine', and the translation is 'I'm in so much pain'," he said.
"She's given it her absolute all every single week.
"She's one of the most authentic people I know."
Derek said the freestyle dance, an emotional performance stripped bare to tell Bindi's story, was planned to be something vastly different from the dances the other couples were performing.
"I planned to do something as raw and real as she (Bindi) is," he said.
Bindi said she relied on the strength and belief of those around her to help her through the competition.
"Thank you so much for all the love and support because that is what means the most and it's why I'm still here," she said.
"My entire journey has meant the world to me, to be able to share my story and my voice.
"To everyone out there thank you so much for your endless support. You have changed my life."
Bindi and Derek will appear in the Dancing with the Stars finale tomorrow, along with Alex Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold and Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess.
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