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‘Dancing with the Stars’: Changes & Contestants during COVID-19

As the world works toward normalcy during COVID-19, Dancing with the Stars is back in action. Aside from adhering to CDC safety guidelines, the show has had a complete makeover. Keep reading for everything that’s changed, beyond no live audience and social distancing, as well as who you should keep an eye on for this season!

Tyra Banks is the new host

I’ve loved her since she starred as Eve in Life-Size, so I was really excited to hear this news. However, I can’t lie — she had a really rough week the first time around. Maybe it came from nerves, or maybe she was uncomfortable, but it’s the fact that I could feel it through the television. Luckily, she was able to pull it together the following week, which makes me think it was just nerves. I especially appreciate how the comedy bit for week 2 was about what Tyra knows best: the “smize,” or smiling eyes. She was much more natural this past week; plus, her outfits are beautiful.

Derek Hough is a new judge

Len Goodman is a part of the at-risk group when it comes to COVID-19, so he opted out of flying to California from London to judge the show. They couldn’t have found a better judge than Derek Hough, who has won the mirror ball on the show as a professional dancer six times. Moreover, I’ve found his judgment calls to be refreshing. He’s given particular, constructive feedback so far, which makes it better to improve than the generalizing feedback that has typically been given out in the past.

Nev Schulman

You might recognize Nev as the reason the word “Catfish” is in the dictionary. After putting out a documentary where he fell in love with a girl on the internet, he then hosted a show all about it. What I can say about Nev is that he’s very expressive in his facial features, which I think carries over to his movements as a dancer.

Skai Jackson

In the first week, Skai had my jaw on the ground with her performance. She’s by far the youngest star on the show this season, and it shows through the energy and determination that she brings on stage. After tying for the highest score last week, I thought she would be an underdog and win the season. However, there was an awkward part this week when her foot slid out of place, and it messed up the move that she and Alan were trying to accomplish. That leaves plenty of room for a comeback next week, though.

Justina Machado

She’s a star I didn’t recognize by name, but then I saw her face and remembered her from One Day at a Time and Jane the Virgin. She came out like a firecracker in the first week, tying with Skai at the top spot of the leaderboard. She went for something more personal this week with her foxtrot; it was executed beautifully, which got her another high score during the night.

Jeannie Mai

Host of The Real and Holey Moley, Jeannie came out shining brighter than the sun in a neon green outfit, and it was like someone shot her out of a cannon. You can see how happy she is to be on Dancing with the Stars, claiming that this is the moment where feels like she made it. Her great energy and charisma were brought into the second week, as she was blowing kisses in her sparkly dress.

Carol Baskin

She’s on this list because everyone is probably keeping an eye on her anyway. But, she’s also the contestant that the judges saved during the elimination round this week, so they either know she’s great publicity and are trying to keep her around, or she actually has dance skills. If I have to keep watching her, though, I think I’ve had enough with the songs that reference cats.

Kaitlyn Bristowe

I’m so happy that Kaitlyn is finally receiving justice for being duped of this position years ago after her stint as The Bachelorette. With her dance background, she would’ve been a perfect contender for the show. However, I’m more grateful that she’s a contestant now, because I’m rooting for her even more. Her dedication to the craft is apparent, since she got the highest score this week while dancing with an injured ankle. I’ll be rooting for her and Val until the end.

These are the contestants that have stood out to me most these past two weeks, and there have been a lot of improvements in all the contestants in only the span of a week. Now that Charles Oakley has gone home, the show will move on to a Disney themed week next. Hopefully, the contestants are keeping their “smize” on the prize, the Dancing with the Stars mirror ball. I know who I’m rooting for.

Kristi is a student at the University of Central Florida striving to pursue her passions. A former resident at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, she’s now a contributing member for HerCampus. When she isn’t writing, she’s out on an adventure with her dog Damian. You can follow her stories on her blog https://kristimyblog.com. 
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