Now that we’re getting into the season, could you imagine Chrishell Stause being paired with anyone other than Gleb Savchenko on Dancing With the Stars? Or Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) being matched with anyone other than Sasha Farber? A lot of thought goes into which dance pros will be paired with which celebrities on the ABC reality competition story to ensure a great ride for competitors and the show’s audience.
Dancing With the Stars — An Inside Look
Deena Katz, the show’s co-executive producer, is charged with matching novice dance stars with the show’s roster of dynamic dance pros. In addition to making sure the pros and stars will complement one another and help each other go on a journey, there are physical characteristics to keep in mind, too.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Katz told Entertainment Hub and other outlets at a recent press conference for the show. “First of all, obviously, height. There’s some basic ideas of height to make sure that everybody has the best chance. Obviously, someone like Charles Oakley [who was paired this season with Emma Slater] is really tough, because he’s 6 foot 9, but we look into the height. But it’s more about the personality.
“And for some of our pros, like [two-time mirror ball champion] Cheryl Burke…” Katz continues, “part of it is wanting the audience to get something new from their dancer as well as the celebrities.” This season, Burke is paired with Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean.
“So, we meet every single one of the celebrities. We get to know them. Knowing our pros so well, trying to find the best partnerships possible. They’re going to argue about a cha-cha step, but you really want them to be a unit, to be together. There’s some people that actually like to be trained harder. Some of the athletes like to be coached different than maybe an actor or somebody else.” Katz’s goal is for each Dancing With The Stars partnership to shine.
“You know, they get thrown into something that they’ve never been in before,” the exec adds, noting the unique circumstances that come along with participating on the show. “Suddenly they’re [with] someone they don’t know. And Derek [Hough, six-time mirror ball champion and now a judge for the show] can talk to this. It’s [being] their mentor…therapist…coach…brother…sister. And, so, it has to be a partnership. And from the moment they meet each other, there’s trust and there’s loyalty and that they can actually shine together.”
Often, lifelong friendships are formed between pro dancers and celebrities. And, sometimes, even deeper relationships are created. In 2015, Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec was paired with mirror ball champ Kym Johnson. Eventually, the two got married and are now parents of twins, a daughter, Haven, and a son, Hudson. Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.