A ballroom misstep! Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy revealed that she regrets the first dance she performed with JoJo Siwa during the last season of Dancing With the Stars.
“Out of all of the dances [we did], that first dance is the only dance I — I don’t want to say the word ‘regret,’ but I’m gonna say regret,” she tells Woman’s World.
A quick recap: Johnson Chmerkovskiy and Siwa — a dancer, YouTuber, and reality star who came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in January 2021 — were the first ever same sex couple on Season 30 of DWTS. The pair dazzled the judges every Monday night and made it to second place, right behind winners Iman Shumpert and pro Daniella Karagach.
Would a different first dance have changed the outcome of Season 30? Maybe not, but Johnson Chmerkovskiy still thinks she could have taken more risks.
“JoJo and I immediately hit it off and it was insane,” she says. “I had never been so connected to a partner before on the show. And I definitely attribute that to being two females and just having a better understanding of one another and how we speak and body language … you know, the whole thing. I just I felt immediately connected to her. And I think she felt that same way with me.
“But I just had a little bit of reservation going into the first ever episode, not knowing what to expect or what the [audience] reaction was was going to be. So, we did what we needed to do and we made a statement, but I played it a little bit safe.”
Johnson Chmerkovskiy and Siwa pushed boundaries.
Fortunately, Johnson Chmerkovskiy stopped holding back after that first performance. “If you go through [the dances] from week two to 11, you can see that we started to push the boundaries a bit more and we let down the guard, and we didn’t really care what the reaction was going to be because we were just having such an incredible time,” she shares. “And we wanted to push ourselves and just out-do what anyone expected us to do, because we were two females.
“So, I love that first performance. But again, it was a little bit safe. I feel like I could have pushed it even more but I was just kind of treading water, because I didn’t know what the reaction or the response was going to be from the audience. And to my surprise, we were just flooded with love and support and positivity. So yeah, I think that after that first performance that really is what gave me the encouragement and the confidence to go forward in the next few weeks with no regulations, if that makes sense.”
And for Johnson Chmerkovskiy, dancing with another woman was a breath of fresh air. “I have to be honest, there were a lot [of] moments that I liked more, dancing with a female,” she admits. “The connection, the understanding of one another, the understanding of one another’s emotions … communication. There was no misunderstanding, which I loved. And there was an immediate friendship and love for one another.”
The season wasn’t without its challenges.
Still, Johnson Chmerkovskiy and Siwa had their work cut out for them. They couldn’t do the impressive tricks and lifts that other couples could do that season, so they had to get creative and build their strength.
“JoJo, before she signed up for the show, she’d never done a push-up before. And so I was like, ‘If we’re going to compete, we’ve got to start throwing some crazy things around. We’re not going to be able to hang [with the competition],” Johnson Chmerkovskiy says.
Consistent push-up sessions helped the pair progress. “She started really trying to amp up what we could do, and she got so strong by the end that we were able to throw some crazy awesome tricks that I never expected us to do.”
Talk about female empowerment. We can’t wait to see what Johnson Chmerkovskiy does next on the show, though we’ll likely have to wait; she and husband Val Chmerkovskiy just announced that they are expecting their first baby.
Congratulations to the soon-to-be parents! We hope they don’t hang up their ballroom shoes for too long.