‘Dancing with the Stars’ Makes History


Marni Schwarz, Staff Writer

Monday, November 22, was a night full of freestyle dances and intense competition when Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) crowned its latest Mirror Ball champion. Not only did the finale feature multiple routines with a perfect score, it also made history.

Dancing with the Stars is an ABC television series that combines celebrities with professional dancers in a dance competition. Each pair performs prepared dances while competing for both judges’ scores and fan votes. Every week, the couple with the lowest combined score is eliminated. The show has been running since 2005 and premiered its 30th season on September 20, with host Tyra Banks. Many famous competitors were eliminated as the season progressed, such as Bachelor star Matt James and Olympic medalist Suni Lee. However, by the time the finale rolled around, four final teams remained, all coming to compete for the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy. The four pairs consisted of Amanda Kloots, Jojo Siwa, Iman Shumpert, and Cody Rigsby. For the finale, these couples were given two categories on which they would base their two performances. The first was a mix of two dance genres that they had done before and the other was a freestyle with no rules. 

Cody Rigsby, a Peloton instructor, appeared in the finale with his partner Cheryl Burke. Amanda Kloots, a dancer, actress, and fitness influencer, was coupled with Alan Bernstein and had been one of the season’s frontrunners. Both Rigsby and Kloots performed stunning dances but fell short when it came to votes, leaving the pairs in third and fourth place respectively.

The two couples who ended the season on top both made history. Jojo Siwa: actress, singer, and dancer, along with her partner Jenna Johnson, were season frontrunners. Siwa’s presence on DWTS is notable as she and her partner are the show’s first same-sex couple. Throughout the season Siwa massively impacted the LGBTQ+ community as she promoted inclusion of everyone and proved, as judge Len Goodman so perfectly enthused, “it doesn’t matter if it’s two girls dancing together, two guys, if it’s good dancing magic happens.” The pair gained a very strong fan base as the season progressed, saving them from being eliminated. Siwa and Johnson set an unmatched precedent for not only the dancing community, but for every organization with gender-specific roles. The other couple in the top two was basketball player Iman Shumpert and his partner Daniella Karagach. The pair had a difficult time finding their footing this season as they were the clear underdogs early on. But as they made their way through the competition, they worked hard and gained a loyal following, making their way to the finale. This accomplishment also made DWTS history as Shumpert became the first ex-NBA player to make it to the finale. 

As the final seconds counted down, fans scrambled to send in their votes. Both Siwa and Shumpert received perfect scores for each of their final dances, leaving it up to the fans to decide who would take home the stunning Mirror Ball prize. Soon enough, the votes were in and Banks announced Iman Shumpert and partner Daniella Karagach as the 2021 champions of DWTS. Shumpert was shocked by the win, completely thrilled and speechless. Despite some weak performances early in the season, he fought hard to end the season on top, proving that the show recognizes committed non-professional dancers.

The season ended not only with a historic victory, but also with much excitement, leaving space for even more exciting changes to be made.