The contestants may be different for Dancing with the Stars season 26, but the judges and hosts are the same. When it comes to the pro dancers, there are all familiar faces in the mix as well, though some fan-favorites are missing. This is a shortened season, as it’s a special edition, and it focuses on athletes as the contestants. In addition, the show only lasts 4 weeks.
Judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Len Goodman have all returned to the judges’ panel. Carrie Ann Inaba has been making a few TV appearances since last season, even subbing in for Kelly Ripa on Live! With Kelly and Ryan. Inaba has the habit of chumming up with fellow DWTS judge and friend Bruno Tonioli, which makes for great entertainment on the show. She also sometimes becomes very emotional after watching some of the contestants’ performances on the show, so fans will see how her emotions hold up on season 26. She’s known for being a stickler when it comes to “lifts” on the dance floor, which are not allowed in certain routines on Dancing With the Stars.
When it comes to Inaba’s buddy Bruno Tonioli, he is the life of the judges’ table. If he was not on this show, fans would probably be heartbroken. He brings an energy to the show unlike any other and he sets the judges’ panel on fire. Tonioli is easily the most animated cast member on the entire show. He provides comic relief and is extremely passionate with his critiques, often jumping out of his seat and waving his arms in excitement. Tonioli also works as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, as has DWTS judge Len Goodman.
Sometimes Len Goodman sits out episodes of the show in order to fit the show into his very busy schedule. This allows guest judges to step in, but there have not been any reports of this for the season. With only 4 episodes to the season, it is unlikely he would miss any of them. Goodman is firm in his opinions and is often referred to as a grump, though his joyful smile shows he’s approachable … when he’s not intimidating contestants in the ballroom.
Co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews are both back in action on the show. In the past, Bergeron has hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos as well, but now the gig has gone to former DWTS winner Alfonso Ribeiro. As for Erin Andrews, a lot has changed for her over the past couple years. She has won a battle over a paparazzi’s invasion of privacy in a hotel room, has overcome cervical cancer and she has also gotten married to her husband, Jarret Stoll.
Now let’s get into the pro dancers for the season. There are only 10 contestants this season, which means there are only 10 pro dancers as well. Some fan-favorites who are not appearing this season include the Chmerkovskiy brothers, Peta Mugatroyd, Derek Hough (who hasn’t been on the show for a few seasons), and Mark Ballas.
This season, dancer Jenna Johnson is paired with Adam Rippon and they are performing the Cha Cha on the premiere episode, dancing to “Sissy That Walk” by RuPaul. Pro Gleb Savchenko is dancing the Salsa with basketballer Arike Ogunbowale on the premiere, performing a routine to “Them Girls” by Whitney Myer. Mirrorball champion Witney Carson is also dancing the Salsa on the premiere, but her partner this season is athlete Chris Mazdzer. They are dancing to Ricky Martin’s song “Mr. Put It Down.” Artem Chigvintsev has returned as a pro again and he is matched with snowboarding medalist Jamie Anderson. Together, they are performing the Viennese Waltz to “Feeling Good” by Avicii. Keo Motsepe has appeared as a pro in the past, but his partners over the years haven’t made it very far in the competition. This season, he is paired with Jennie Finch Daigle and the two are performing the Foxtrot on the premiere, to “All-American Girl” by Carrie Underwood.
Over the summer, pro dancers Emma Slater and Sasha Farber got married and now they are both back as part of the DWTS 2018 cast. Slater is paired with Johnny Damon, while Farber is with Tonya Harding. For Slater’s premiere performance, she is putting on the Foxtrot to “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, while Farber is also performing a Foxtrot, but to “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
Fan-favorite pro Sharna Burgess is a veteran in the ballroom and she is matched with NFL’er Josh Norman. The two are dancing a Cha Cha routine to “Finesse” by Bruno Mars on the premiere. Another Cha Cha routine set for the premiere is with pro Lindsay Arnold and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Together, they are dancing to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder. Lastly, pro dancer Alan Bersten is back and he recently had a tumor removed from his neck, so it’s fortunate for fans to be able to see him back in the ballroom. Bersten is dancing with Mirai Nagasu this season and they are performing a Salsa routine to “No Excuses” by Meghan Trainor on the DWTS season 26 premiere.
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