The final four performed on Dancing With the Stars Monday night and with the highest combined score of the night, Lance Bass and partner Lacey Schwimmer proved that the show must go on — even when the shoe falls off.

In a first for the hit reality show, Lance, who has already danced barefoot this season, accidentally had a shoe fall off during his jitterbug. But the former NSync-er didn’t miss a beat and got the highest score of the night on the dance, a 29. And with a 28 on his mambo, Lance easily led the competitors with a cumulative 57 out of 60.

After the show, Lance told OK! how it felt when he lost his shoe. “At first, panic, of course, because I was concerned with safety," he explained. "But after I realized I’d be fine, I just ate it up. It was so much fun. It made me smile and laugh. I had a really good time.”

Adds Lacey, “I think that he’s by far the most improved in this entire competition and it showed tonight.”

Despite his high scores, however, Lance doesn’t think he’s a…. um, shoe-in, to make it to next week’s finale. “It’s anyone’s game," he says. "It’s a good competition.”

Meanwhile, Brooke Burke, who has been the favorite all season with partner Derek Hough, had her first bad dance, a jive that judge Len Goodman called a “disaster” and earned only a 21.

“It was a hiccup," Brooke sighed to OK! backstage. "I loved that dance. I don’t know really what went wrong and it was hard to find my way back into it.” As for the harsh results from the judges, she said she’s taking like an adult: “I know when I do things wrong and I can totally take it.”

Luckily for DWTS’ golden couple, their second dance, the salsa, was a return back to form, earning a 28 for a combined score of 49, good enough for a tie for second overall for the night.

“I’m really happy that we pulled it together for the salsa,” Brooke told OK!

“She killed it,” Derek said. “That’s the test of a true champion — messing up a little bit and coming back strong.”

Gridiron great Warren Sapp and partner Kym Johnson hoped they’d done enough to get to the finals, also earning a combined score of 49 for their two dances.

“Hopefully we’ve got a shot,” Warren told OK!. Asked about the judging on Monday, he said, “It looked like they were out for blood tonight! But I really enjoyed the crowd.”

The legendary linebacker also defended himself against the judges’ season-long focus on what they say is his flat footwork. “That’s what made me a Hall of Fame football player," he explained. "Without these feet, I wouldn’t be standing here!”

Warren’s daughter Mercedes’ birthday is tomorrow, and he’d be happy to celebrate both that and a ticket to the DWTS final. “Either we’re ‘parting’ like hell or ‘partying’ like hell,” he laughed.

Cody Linley, whose partner Julianne Hough came back to dance with him after having appendix surgery two weeks ago, got the lowest combined score of the night, 46, and couldn’t hide his disappointment.

“I felt like I did my job,” Cody said. “We got a standing ovation after our paso doble. I was pretty upset with the judges. Usually, I agree 100 percent with their critiques but tonight, no, not at all. I’m bummed that I’m in last place after Julianne coming back and rocking those two dances. I felt confident and great about them and to receive bad scores was tough. I really hope tonight wasn’t my last dance with Julianne.”

If he doesn’t survive tomorrow’s elimination night, Cody at least knows he’ll have no problems getting dates!

The 18-year-old Hannah Montana cutie, who turns 19 on Thursday, confided that because of DWTS, women of all ages are recognizing him now. “Cougars are hitting on me and I say, bring them on!” he smiled.

By Carole Glines

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