On Monday's Dancing With the Stars
, Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
pulled off a simple, elegant freestyle routine that managed to bring everyone in the audience to tears.
The dance, like a number of Bindi's other routines throughout the season, was dedicated to her late father
, Steve Irwin. This time, however, it felt as if her dad actually joined them onstage.
While most freestyle performances are show-stopping productions with massive sets and scores of backup dancers, Bindi and Derek decided to strip away all the unnecessary elements and focus the routine on raw emotion.
Nothing was more emotional than at the conclusion of their number, when Bindi and Derek walked side-by-side over digitally-projected sand, while the footprints of her dad appeared between them as they progressed.
It was a fitting effect, given the song they used was Leona Lewis' "Footprints in the Sand."
The dance concluded with a large photo of a very young Bindi kissing her dad on the cheek
, after which Bindi embraced her supportive partner and wept openly onto his shoulder. It was later revealed that Bindi had no idea the picture was going to be shown -- it was actually arranged by Derek as a surprise.
Meanwhile, every other was crying, including the judges, who were choked up. Even co-host Erin Andrews couldn't fight back the waterworks.
The impact of the dance was made even greater due to Bindi and Derek's friendship,
which was presented in a pre-recorded package before their performance, where Bindi opened up about the pain she still feels over the loss of her dad
and the role Derek has played in helping her heal.
"You can see all the bruises on the outside," Bindi said, showing the many injuries she's sustained
during the long season, "and the inside of me is kind of the same."
"I never really talked about everything that I felt when dad passed away, and I never thought I'd revisit that," Bindi shared. "But to have Derek there to say, 'It's OK, I'm there for you,' was something that I was so grateful for."
"Sometimes during rehearsals it feels like there's three people in the room," Bindi shared. "And I do feel like dad is still with me, every day." It was this feeling that inspired the dance's mind-blowing finale featuring Steve's "spirit" walking with his daughter.
The cheers were cacophonous and the emotions were raw as the judges gave their glowing, tearful feedback, and it was clear that Derek and Bindi were going to be getting 10s across the board.
It was a night of perfect scores for the duo, who also scored 30 points for their classy first dance of the night.