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Dancing With The Stars Season 30 Recap

On Monday, November 22, Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars finally came to an end. Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) is a reality dance competition show, in which celebrities are paired with a professional dancer to learn various ballroom dance styles for a panel of judges. The couples compete each week, and the team with the lowest combined total of judge’s scores and audience votes is eliminated. Viewing audiences can vote via text during the live show for their favorite couples. Season 30 featured actors and actresses, athletes, TV and internet personalities, a fitness instructor, and even The Bachelor. The season lasted for 10 weeks, ending with 4 finalists: co-host of The Talk Amanda Kloots, Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby, pop star Jojo Siwa, and NBA player Iman Shumpert. In the end, Shumpert and his partner Daniella took home the mirrorball in a historic win, as the first NBA player to win the show.

Though the show claims that they invite celebrities with little to no dance experience, this was not necessarily the case this season. Putting a former Rockette next to a pro-wrestler, or someone who got their start on “Dance Moms” against an NBA player highlights some discrepancies in the casting this season. In addition, DWTS loves to stir the pot when it comes to controversial contestants, which most recently included Tiger King star Carole Baskin in Season 29 and former White House press secretary (and Conn alum) Sean Spicer in Season 28. This season’s token controversy came in the form of Olivia Jade. Jade claims she is most known for being a beauty vlogger, but in reality, she is most known for being in the midst of Operation Varsity Blues, when her mother Lori Loughlin paid her way into USC. Many were angry that DWTS would reward Olivia Jade with a platform on national television, especially because she gained her fame from cheating. This was reflected in the audience votes, as Jade and her partner Val were eliminated in the quarter-finals after scoring relatively high, but having the least amount of audience votes.

Definitely the most talked-about contestant on DWTS this season was pop star Jojo Siwa. Siwa requested to dance with a woman this season, creating the first same-sex couple in the show’s history. Siwa danced this season with professional dancer Jenna Johnson. The pair consistently earned high scores and were almost always at the top of the leaderboard. It was clear that 18-year-old Siwa entered into the show to present a more mature image, as she is generally related with children. Gone were the high ponytails and glitter sneakers, replaced with more “adult” dance costumes. It was honestly beautiful to watch Jojo Siwa grow up before our eyes. Jojo and Jenna’s partnership was fantastic to watch. Jenna became a sort of big sister figure to Jojo, while also producing beautiful choreography. For Jojo, it seemed that the experience was much more important to her than trying to win.

This season’s champion was a true underdog story. NBA player Iman Shumpert, paired with pro Daniella Karagach, overcame many challenges, both score-wise and physically (as he is almost a foot taller than his partner) to ultimately come out on top. NBA players have a history of being almost laughably bad on DWTS. In Week 1, it was clear that Shumpert was already a much better dancer than those that came before him, dancing an upbeat Jive to “Hey Ya!” by Outkast. For the first few weeks, Iman and Daniella struggled with their “ballroom frame,” as the frame is designed for partners much closer in height. It wasn’t until Week 4, during an Aladdin-themed Argentine Tango, when Iman and Daniella discovered their biggest strength: their lifts. Iman’s strength, coupled with his height, allowed the pair to execute some unbelievable lifts in their dances. This was showcased especially in their Contemporary dance during Week 6, which earned a perfect score and went viral online. The problem with this was that most ballroom dances do not allow lifts, so Iman and Daniella continued to improve their ballroom dancing together, using plenty of lifts when allowed. Probably their most impressive ballroom dance was their “Redemption” Tango in the semi-finals. Coached by judge Derek Hough, Iman and Daniella were able to showcase their improvement within the ballroom frame. Their DWTS journey culminated with an exceptional Freestyle to “Lose Control” by Missy Elliot, utilizing Chicago-style footwork, a homage to Iman’s hometown of Chicago. In the finale, Iman and Daniella tied in scores with Jojo and Jenna, both with perfect 80’s across their two dances, and both couples ended up in the top two. In the end, Jojo and Jenna came in second with Iman and Daniella coming out on top. This win was Daniella’s first win on the show, and Iman became the first NBA player to ever win Dancing With the Stars.

Ellie Wagner

Conn Coll '23

Ellie Wagner is a Government major and American Studies minor at Conn College. She is also on the Mock Trial team and a part of The College Voice.
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