Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy Lead the “DWTS” Pack with Their Fierce Paso Doble and Joyful Freestyle

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During the first installment of “Dancing with the Stars” season 23 finale, Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy started out the evening with a fiery, passionate paso doble.

The routine, which was dubbed their “redemption dance,” perfectly captured Laurie’s fighting spirit and unmatchable athletic ability. It was complete with graceful turns, fierce faces and, best of all, gymnastics-like stunts.

After the routine, Laurie received an onslaught of compliments from the judges. Carrie Ann called Laurie “the most determined soul I have ever met,” and Len said, “There was nothing in that dance I didn’t like.”

The duo received the highest score of the night with 38 out of 40 points.

Later in the evening, Laurie and Val took the stage for their freestyle dance, which was set to “Brand New” by Ben Rector.

Donned in a bright yellow dress, Laurie pranced across the stage, which was outfitted to look like a playground. The dance perfectly showcased the 16-year-old Olympian’s signature smile and, again, athletic ability.

The “fresh,” “crisp” routine left the judges smiling and Laurie and Val with a perfect score of 40.