Dancing With the Stars returns for season 29 on September 14 and due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year will look quite a bit different than most. So that the show could continue live production on-schedule, the show’s structure and policies have been reformatted to maintain a safe set and prevent the spread of COVID-19 between cast and crew.
Here are the changes you should expect this season due to DWTS‘s coronavirus policy and formatting.
There Is No Live Studio Audience or Band & Production Will Be Kept Minimal to Maintain Social Distancing
Unsurprisingly, DWTS season 29 will not have a live audience in the ballroom this season to avoid exposure to potentially COVID-19-positive persons. Dancing With the Stars showrunner Andrew Llinares and ABC alternative chief Rob Mills confirmed the change with Deadline. Llinares revealed, “What we didn’t want to have in the ballroom was loads of empty seats, we wanted it to look like there was a purpose to it so we’re redesigning the ballroom. We’re going to put in some extra screens, it’s going to look like the show was always designed to look this way.” In addition, Mills said, “Obviously, we can’t have an audience there and that’s a big component of the show, the energy. These are the types of things that lead to creativity and I think we’ll figure out how to make it work and still feel entertaining without an audience. Beyond that, the show’s going to look the same as the show you know and love.”
Gone this season is the show’s beloved live band, and performances will feel all the more different with an absence of the big set pieces that make the dances feel like full productions.
Due to travel restrictions, longtime DWTS judge Len Goodman will not be able to be in the ballroom this season; in his place, Dancing With the Stars alum Derek Hough will be judging alongside Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.
There Will Be No Group Dances & Competing Pairs Will Stay Isolated ‘As a Pod’
Another major change in the show this season will be the absence of group competition numbers and troupe performers, to maintain that the only people in physical contact with one another are the competing pairs themselves. Llinares told Deadline that for the competition, “The central premise of the show is two people who are in very close proximity with each other. They as a couple on the show will stay as a pod – they won’t come in to contact with the other couples to the point that we’ve got three sets of married pro dancers and they will be living separately for as long as they’re in the competition.”
Social distancing will be maintained off-stage as well; Llinares said that the threat of coronavirus has necessitated “a whole different way for the show to operate behind the scenes because normally the couples hang out together a lot and on camera we won’t have the skybox area where they hang out, they’ll still be in the ballroom watching each other but they’ll be eight feet apart.” Continuing, he explained
Emma Slater and Sasha Farber, Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson, and Pasha Pashkov and Danielle Karagach are the 3 married professional dance couples this season. Of the change and the reality that she will be separated from her husband while they continue to compete, Slater told Good Morning America, “It’s going to be so different because we can’t actually interact and even prep with each other, which is something completely different, but we’re doing everything we can to keep safe. There’s going to be a lot of FaceTiming.”
Dancing With the Stars season 29 premieres on Monday, September 14 at 8/7c on ABC.