Bindi Irwin wowed the crowds, and gained near perfect scores with her performance on Dancing with the Stars this week, but it was clear to see that the performance meant so much more to the 17-year-old than just progressing to the next round.
The tears were flowing after the bubbly Australian performed a contemporary dance number with partner Derek Hough honoring her late father, Steve Irwin. Bindi was just 8 years old when her conservationist father passed away following a tragic accident.
Bindi told US Weekly that the week leading up to her performance had been one of the hardest things she has ever faced in her life:
"This week was a really, really tough week. It was kind of revisiting a place that I haven't gone to since 2006. It's a really challenging thing to do because there is a lot of emotion — I don't think I've ever cried as much as I have this past week, to be honest!"
Prior to Bindi and Derek performing their number, there was an emotionally packed pre-dance video, which included Bindi sharing what a huge impact her father's death had had on her, admitting that for the rest of her life, she'll always feel like he might one day still return home. The video also included some touching family photos, as well as a clip of 8-year-old Bindi speaking at her father's memorial service.
Derek Hough leant massive support to his young dance partner, keeping her from watching the pre-dance video in order to keep her emotions steady for their dance. Ultimately Bindi's dedication to the number paid off when she and Derek earned a score of 28 out of 30, including a perfect 10 from judge Bruno Tonioli.
Take a look at Bindi's dance for her father:
Irwin was supported by her mom, Terri, and younger brother, Bob, in the audience, though she no doubt felt an outpouring of love from the studio audience who were obviously all very moved by the dance and Bindi's words.
Bindi admitted she was holding off seeing her family until the end of the show, in case she was completely overcome with emotion, instead saying she had a plan to later "get pizza and chocolate milk and lay down! And then hug my family!" The star added that despite being glad she could share her thoughts and feelings with everyone, she was "ready to just embrace the sunshine again" after her overwhelming and emotional performance.
Dancing with the Stars episode 7 airs on October 12th.