Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

The October 24 episode of Dancing With the Stars is more than the traditional “Most Memorable Year” show. Eight, count ‘em, eight “OG” dance pros are coming back to the program to take part in a special dance to honor late lead judge Len Goodman, who passed away in April at the age of 78.

Pro dancers Val Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy are choreographing the tribute dance, set to the iconic Henry Mancini song “Moon River.” Returning for the special occasion are Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Kym Johnson-Herjavec, Tony Dovolani, Anna Trebunskaya, Edyta Śliwińska, Karina Smirnoff, Louis van Amstel, and (last season’s mirror ball champion) Mark Ballas.

TV Insider chatted exclusively with van Amstel and Śliwińska (as well as a few current pros) about their returns and the dance that will honor Goodman. “[Co-executive producer] Deena Katz reached out to us personally and asked us to participate,” shares van Amstel, whose celebrity partners have included Trista Sutter, Lisa Rinna, Priscilla Presley, Kelly Osbourne, Paula Deen, and Cheryl Ladd. “We all started in the early days of the show. Now, here we are again.”

“Deena’s been there since the very beginning,” Śliwińska says. “She’s the heart and soul of the show. She thought it would be great to bring back some of the original dancers to do a tribute to Len.”

As viewers of the long-running dance competition reality show may be aware, Goodman was never a fan of couples throwing in extra little bits into their dance, no matter how those touches may have added to the routine’s entertainment factor. He found them distracting.

“Len was what I call the ‘no-nonsense’ judge,” says Śliwińska, whose partners have included George Hamilton, Joey Lawrence, Cameron Mathison, Jeffrey Ross, Ashley Hamilton, and Aiden Turner. “If we ever tried to do gimmicks with our celebrities, Len would see through them. I have the utmost respect for him and his knowledge. He looked for pure quality. He wanted to see good dancing. He’d say, ‘Show what you worked on — don’t try to charm me with gimmicks.’”

But make no mistake: While Goodman was strict, he was never stuffy. He’d often laugh when something funny was said in the post-dance interviews once he delivered his critiques. “Len always had the best sense of humor,” Śliwińska says. “He could be a little sarcastic, and he knew how to deliver a punchline. He was incredibly entertaining.”

Van Amstel says he’d support Goodman 100 percent when he groused about dances straying into gimmicks. “There’s an educational side to the show,” he says. “People at home are learning about dance. I’m very happy that Val and Jenna are choreographing the tribute dance. It’s being choreographed by ballroom dancers. I’m excited.”

Audiences aren’t the only ones who are looking forward to seeing the OGs. The pros themselves are pumped up about the special gathering. “We all grew up with each other in the same industry,” says van Amstel, who has also been a teacher to many of the returning dance pros. “I’m excited to see them all because we have a history. Have we had some personal issues? Of course. We’re all human. But I’m looking forward to seeing each and every one of them.”

“It’s going to be like a high school reunion,” Śliwińska says. “I haven’t seen some of these people for years. This is going to be a great way to honor Len.”

Some of the show’s younger pros are happily anticipating seeing (or meeting) and dancing alongside some of their idols. “This is going to be amazing,” says Brandon Armstrong. “Mark’s my man.”

“I grew up coming to all of the tapings from when my sister [Lindsay Arnold] was on the show,” shares Rylee Arnold, who’s competing on DWTS for the first time this season. “I started coming to tapings as soon as I was old enough!”

Dancing With the Stars, Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC and Disney+

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The post ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Pays Tribute to Len Goodman — OG Pros Preview appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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