‘Dancing With the Stars’: Why Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy Refused to Dance With JoJo Siwa in Early Rehearsals

Pop star JoJo Siwa and Dancing with the Stars pro Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy competed together in season 30 of the ABC competition series. Recently, Johnson Chmerkovskiy opened up about their first few weeks of rehearsals, admitting she refused to dance with Siwa until Siwa removed a baggy shirt. Find out why Johnson Chmerkovskiy wanted Siwa to take her shirt off for rehearsals and the significance behind it. 

Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy performing with JoJo Siwa in season 30 of 'Dancing with the Stars'
Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy and JoJo Siwa | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy won second place in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 30 

Iman Shumpert and Daniella Karagach took home the Mirrorball Trophy during the Nov. 22 finale of Dancing with the Stars.

Despite their high scores throughout the season, Siwa and Johnson Chmerkovskiy came in second. Cody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke took third, while Amanda Kloots and Alan Bersten took fourth place. 

Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy made JoJo Siwa cry in week 1 of rehearsals

Going into Dancing with the Stars Season 30, Siwa was very self-conscious of her shoulders. “I made her cry one time. … It was our second week, she was wearing the baggiest shirt,” Johnson Chmerkovskiy recalled to Olivia Jade in the “Conversations with… Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy” episode of her podcast. Knowing she had something on underneath, Johnson Chmerkovskiy demanded Siwa remove the baggy shirt to see her body movements better. 


“I’m sorry, but I will not dance with you until you take it off,” Johnson Chmerkovskiy told Siwa, which caused full-on tears. “I was like, ‘Is this happening right now?'” Together, Johnson Chmerkovskiy and Siwa worked through those feelings.

“She was like, ‘I don’t like my arms [or] shoulders; I feel like I’m broader.’ And I was like, ‘I wish you could see how stunning you are,'” Johnson Chmerkovskiy said. Together, she and Siwa looked in the mirror and spoke words of affirmation. Ultimately, Siwa removed her baggy shirt and only came to practice in crop tops from then on. 

‘Dancing with the Stars’ changed JoJo Siwa’s confidence 

As Johnson Chmerkovskiy explained to Jade, Siwa’s confidence went through the roof during her Dancing with the Stars experience. “This season I really saw my efforts help transform JoJo … into a woman,” the DWTS pro explained. “Maybe because I had done something similar, I could relate. There was so much potential, so much growth, so many areas to gain confidence and be accepting and loving of herself, and I really did see that.” 

Watching Siwa transform over 10 weeks helped “the blow of getting second place” for Johnson Chmerkovskiy, too. Still, Johnson Chmerkovskiy already felt like a winner going into the semi-finals despite their runner-up status.

“Every day, I honestly say a little prayer of gratitude in my heart that I was partnered with JoJo this season,” the ballroom dance expert told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in November 2021. “I don’t know when I’m ever going to have somebody as committed, as joyful, as into this experience, [or] as sweet as she is ever again. So really every day has been a dream and a blessing.” 

Johnson Chmerkovskiy and her husband, Val Chmerkovskiy, are not joining the Dancing with the Stars cast on tour next year. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for updates on whether they’ll return as pros in DWTS Season 31. 

RELATED: ‘Dancing with the Stars’: Cheryl Burke Shares the Challenges She and Cody Rigsby Faced in Season 30 [Exclusive]