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DWTS Season 30 Brings Back the Ballroom and the Stunt Casting

Written By | Sep 21, 2021
DWTS Season 30 features the US edition's first same sex pair, JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson. Photo: ABC

DWTS Season 30 features the US edition’s first same sex pair, JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson. Photo: ABC

SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 20, 2021 – It seems much longer than one year since ‘Dancing With The Stars’ pulled off its pandemic year production with a polarizing new host in Tyra Banks and the cast of assorted reality TV stars, athletes, singers and of course a Bachelor/Bachelorette testing the limits of their challenges.

Good/bad news: Tyra is back.

More good/bad news: The ballroom audience is back. They’re all wearing masks, though Tyra,  the judges, and the competitors are not. Here’s hoping everyone is vaxxed, especially returning judge Len Goodman. This year, there are four judges, including Len, Derek Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli.

If you don’t recall, former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe gave partner Artem Chigvintsev his first Mirror Ball Trophy as the Season 29 winner. After the first look at the Season 30 competition, the pro pairings, and performances, let’s predict our finalists right now.

In order of DWTS appearance:

Former Spice Girl Melanie “Mel C, AKA Sporty Spice” Chisholm, age 47, is dancing with pro-Gleb Savchenko.

Going first isn’t easy, but she’s a singer, and her timing overcame the nerves. She also knew the material: her own Spice Girls hit, “Wannabe.” She needs to get some tips from her former group member Mel B, who came in second when she competed with Maks Chmerkovskiy. Score: 27

WWE fans had to be happy with the performance of Michael "Miz" Mizana with pro Witney Carson. Photo: ABC DWTS Season 30

WWE fans had to be happy with the performance of Michael “Miz” Mizana with pro Witney Carson. Photo: ABC

WWE wrestling star Michael ‘The Miz’ Mizanin, age 40,  showed he’s got the moves, and pro wrestlers know more than a little about learning choreography.

He’s dancing with former champion pro Witney Carson. It’s hard to believe she had a baby six months ago. He wasn’t afraid to go for it and enjoy himself, which endears the audience to him. He’ll stick around. Score: 24.

Former NBA player Iman Shumpert, age 31, danced with pro Daniella Karagach. Photo: ABC DWTS Season 30

Former NBA player Iman Shumpert, age 31, danced with pro Daniella Karagach. Photo: ABC

Former NBA player Iman Shumpert, age 31, danced with pro Daniella Karagach.

NBA players struggle with the height difference and let their posture collapse. He was also assigned the jive, which is cruel in week one. But he did better than most and looked comfortable. These are positive signs. Score: 21. Room for improvement.

The notorious and the gold medalist

Olivia Jade will go a long way thanks to being paired with popular Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo: ABC DWTS Season 30

Olivia Jade will go a long way, thanks to being paired with popular Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo: ABC

Olivia Jade, age 21, gets the infamy assignment.

She is the daughter of actress Lori Laughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli who apparently got into UCLA when her parents paid off a shady college recruiter. Jade makes plenty of money as a social media influencer, and now she’s parlaying her infamy on DWTS a la Ryan Lochte, Sean Spicer, and Paula Deen. She isn’t the one who actually did anything wrong; let’s be clear. Producers want her to stick around as they paired her with popular pro Val Chmerkovskiy. Val led Olivia through with a firm hand, and she’s got potential and youth and Val on her side, along with millions of fans. She isn’t going anywhere. Score: 25.

Country singer Jimmie Allen and Emma Slater. Photo: ABC

Country singer Jimmie Allen, age 36, drew Emma Slater as his partner.

Another tough week one assignment, the Tango, which needs a more seasoned pairing to do well. Jimmie and Emma struggled a bit, but the fans should keep him around with time to improve. Score: 22.

Actress Melora Hardin is dancing with reigning pro champ Artem Chigvintsev. Photo: ABC DWTS Season 30v

Actress Melora Hardin is dancing with reigning pro champ Artem Chigvintsev. Photo: ABC

Actress Melora Hardin, age 54, might be this year’s, Leah Remini.

Dancing with reigning champion Artem, she also drew the Tango, and by comparison, Jimmie Allen’s effort seemed better. She was unsteady on he feet, but she’s got a good attitude. She’ll need it and a whole lot of work. The score was the first eye roll of the night: 26. Was she that much better than Jimmie?

Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee has a leg up with parnter Sacha Farber. Photo: ABC

Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee, age 18, is paired with popular Sacha Farber, and he’s just the fun-loving personality to warm Suni up.

She isn’t a gymnast who particularly plays to the audience like Simone Biles, and that will be her biggest challenge at first. But she’s got the speed and footwork, and athletes take coaching well. Having them dance the Jive isn’t at all challenging. They get the night’s highest score: 28.

Bring on the ringers

Now, time for the ringers. It won’t be the first time competitors with serious dance experience hit the ballroom. These two competitors bring compelling followings too big to resist when your show needs the ratings.

Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby has a passionate fan base supporting him and pro Cheryl Burke. Photo: ABC

Popular Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby, age 33, might not be a household name, but Peloton Nation is a fiercely loyal tribe who’ll have his back and vote vote vote.

He’s a former professional dancer, AND he drew the beloved pro, Cheryl Burke. Another Tango, right in Cheryl’s wheelhouse (see what I did there). His form was tight, almost too tight. Judges were hard on him, but he’s immune to scores right now. Score: 24.

Amanda Kloots has true dancing credentials and a sympathetic pandemic age story. Photo: ABC

Former Broadway dancer Amanda Kloots, age 39, is co-host of the ABC daytime show “The Talk.”

But many people know her when Broadway actor Nick Cordero died of COVID-19 early in the pandemic. She relied on her training and pushed through with partner Alan Berntsen for a tearjerking performance. Amanda and Alan tie Suni and Sacha for the night’s top score: 28.

Nice try but bye-bye Martin Cove and Britt Stewart. Photo: ABC

Actor Martin Kove, age 74, plays the owner of the fictional Cobra Kai dojo.

But it doesn’t mean he’s an athlete IRL. He mustered the attitude of his Paso Doble, but did he hit a single step in his routine with partner Britt Stewart? Not one I could see. It was a classic DWTS train wreck: Score: Unlucky 13. Bye bye Martin.

We love the look of Kenya Moore and Brandon Armstrong, who left way too early last season. Photo: ABC

WNBA basketball star Kenya Moore, age 50, still has the moves.

A great start and pleasant surprise dancing the Foxtrot with Brandon Armstrong. They are a classy, well-matched couple and might have the most potential of anyone on the show. Score: 26.

Reality TV stars hit the dance floor

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called Christine Chiu a diamond in the rough, dancing with Pasha Pashkov. Photo: ABC

Christine Chiu, age 38, a Netflix reality TV star and plastic surgery practice owner, danced yet another Tango with Pasha Pashkov.

While she appeared to have stage fright, she wasn’t awful. Perhaps a diamond in the rough said, judge Carrie Ann Inaba. Score: 25.

Bachelor Nation will give Matt James every chance to improve. Photo: ABC

Bachelor Matt James, age 29, danced with another new mom, Lindsay Arnold. Show producers gave them a break with a relatively easy Cha CCha, and the Bachelor Nation voters will pass him along. Unlike on the show, Matt was actually appealing. Score: 24.

Brian Austin Green can learn a lot from pro Sharna Burgess – if he pays attention. Photo: ABC

Actor Brian Austin Green, age 48, and Sharna Burgess didn’t embarrass themselves and had promising moments.

Sharna is an excellent teacher, and let’s see if the fans give them time to develop. Score: 24.

Regular viewers knew the final dancers would be the show’s first same-sex pairing getting all the pre-season buzz. Actress/singer/social media star JoJo Siwa, age 18, will dance with Jenna Johnson. The British version of DWTS and several other international editions have featured same-sex couples for many years. This pair needs to make their debut, let fans get used to it, and forget about it.

JoJo and Jenna have what it takes to be competitive, fund, and score well. They didn’t lack for speed, energy, and enthusiasm. Jenna will need to channel it into attack and keep things under control. In a few weeks, fans will be watching the dancing and not the spectacle. The judges rewarded the ladies with the night’s highest score, 29 points.

Our early prediction for the Season 30 Mirror Ball Trophy is based on past winners and the first week: Never count out the athletes and the youngsters. Following fellow Olympian winners Shawn Johnson, Evan Lysacek, and Kristi Yamaguchi, Suni Lee will make the top three, along with JoJo Siwa. Peloton Nation will keep Cody Rigsby in it, and Bachelor Nation will keep Matt James alive. Amanda Kloots has a lot of support along with the skills.

We say: First, Second, JoJoSiwa; Third, Suni Lee.

Voting information: Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday nights during the show and up to one hour after the end of the DWTS broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at and on Facebook at is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and closing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Tuesday evenings.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California, a veteran media observer and ballroom dance fanatic. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.