‘DWTS’ Season 29: The Changes in Place Due to COVID

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It’s a season of change this fall for Dancing With the Stars.

There’s a new host, Tyra Banks, taking over for Tom Bergeron (who was part of the show since the beginning) and Erin Andrews (who joined in Season 18). Derek Hough is back as a judge, not one of the professional dancers paired with celebrities on the ABC competition show. (He’s at the table alongside Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, while Len Goodman will be part of the season in a different capacity from the U.K.). And there are also new guidelines in place to ensure the health and safety of all involved due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So what’s ahead for the pros, celebrities, judges, and even the studio when it comes to the changes? Read on as we break it down.

Pros and celebrities

As revealed the same day as the premiere date and pros list on Good Morning America, all of the pros, even those who are married (like Emma Slater and Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson and Val Chmerkovskiy, and Pasha Pashkov and Daniella Karagach), must live apart. (Therefore, if one gets sick, two pairs won’t be eliminated.)

“It’s going to be so different because we can’t actually interact and even prep with each other,” Slater said on ABC’s morning talk show. “But we’re doing everything we can to keep safe.”

The other pros participating in Season 29 are: Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Cheryl Burke, Artem Chigvintsev, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Gleb Savchenko, and Britt Stewart.

The celebrities participating in Season 29 — Cheer‘s head coach Monica Aldama, Tiger King‘s Carole Baskin, The Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, Super Bowl Champion Vernon Davis, actress Anne Heche, actress Skai Jackson, One Day at a Time‘s Justina Machado, Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean, The Real host Jeannie Mai, actor Jesse Metcalfe, rapper Nelly, Catfish host Nev Schulman, NBA superstar Charles Oakley, Selling Sunset‘s Chrishell Stause, and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir — must live in Los Angeles for the duration of it, so they don’t have to travel, Deadline reports.

There are changes on and off stage for the contestants as well. There won’t be any backing dancers and the sets will be designed to limit how many people are needed to assemble them. Furthermore, there will not be a skybox area but instead, they’ll watch the other performances in the ballroom while standing eight feet from one another.

They’ll also be tested five times a week. “The central premise of the show is two people who are in very close proximity with each other,” showrunner Andrew Llinares noted. “They as a couple on the show will stay as a pod — they won’t come in to contact with the other couples,” hence even married pros living apart.


In addition to Goodman being unable to participate in person, another change for the judges is a longer table (so that there will be eight feet between them).


Remote cameras will be used in the rehearsal dance studios, instead of having more people in the room operating the equipment.

Because there won’t be an audience or band for the still-live shows, BBC Studios redesigned the ballroom. “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,” Llinares explained. “We’re going to put in some extra screens. It’s going to look like the show was always designed to look this way.”

Dancing With the Stars, Season 29 Premiere, Monday, September 14, ABC