‘DWTS’: Britt Stewart and Johnny Weir Didn’t Mind This Strange Aspect of Season 29
Dancing With the Stars pro Britt Stewart and her partner Johnny Weir took season 29 by storm. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at play, the show operated a lot differently from past years. Showbiz Cheat Sheet spoke with Stewart over the phone about these changes to the show. Stewart admitted she and Weir didn’t mind this unique aspect of the season.
‘Dancing With the Stars’ introduced big changes in season 29
It’s no secret we’re living amidst a global pandemic. But despite the coronavirus, Dancing With the Stars stayed true to the adage “the show must go on.”
Season 29 debuted on Sept. 14 with many people working behind the scenes to ensure the safety of everyone involved. That included introducing new protocols and completely doing away with a live audience.
Outside of the technical changes and added safety measures, Dancing With the Stars made a few changes to the show’s roster. Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews did not return to host. Instead, Tyra Banks took their place.
The judges’ panel also got a new member. Head judge Len Goodman could not make it to the United States due to the pandemic, so Derek Hough stepped up to judge.
For Cheryl Burke, the lack of an audience made performing weird
Burke has been with Dancing With the Stars since the show’s second season. For her, the coronavirus-inspired changes to the show felt weird at first.
Burke is used to feeding off of the energy a live audience provides. But this season, that wasn’t possible. Burke and her Backstreet Boy partner AJ McLean talked about performing in an empty space on the Pretty Messed Up podcast.
“It was really strange, personally, for me to perform with no audience,” Burke said during the episode. “Can you imagine doing a show like this for 15 years, and then all of a sudden, you hear crickets after you’re jiving your a*s off.”
Burke admitted that ballroom dancing is intimate, but performing without a live audience still felt odd.
“It was an adjustment of sorts,” McLean agreed. “Whenever [Cheryl] talks about the word connection, that’s between her and I — nobody else — with or without an audience.”
Britt Stewart and Johnny Weir didn’t mind the lack of an audience on ‘Dancing With the Stars’
During our phone conversation, Stewart spoke with Showbiz about how the coronavirus has impacted the show this season — including the missing audience.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t mind [not having an audience],” she said. “Johnny and I actually talked about this. I’ve been on troupe for five seasons, but [I also have] this extensive dance career outside of Dancing with the Stars.”
Both Stewart and her partner have experienced performing for audiences of varying sizes.
“Johnny has performed for the most people,” Stewart added. “Performing at the Olympics by yourself with billions of people — the whole world. There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush that you get from a live audience, but we kind of appreciated that there was no audience this season.”
Stewart said the lack of an audience allowed she and Weir to focus on each other, their partnership, and most importantly, the dance. Of course, they both missed having their parents there to see them perform live. But they were there in spirit.
“Some people really feed off of that energy, which is great,” Stewart concluded. “But Johnny already had it within himself — we really just got the energy from within ourselves and each other.”