• Kristyn Burtt

3 Major Takeaways From Season 26 of ‘Dancing With the Stars: Athletes’


Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal.

The four-week experiment with Dancing With the Stars: Athletes has come and gone. It’s a season that frustrated many longtime DWTS fans, but I do think some good has come out of the spring season as well. 


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Before we get to the good, let’s remember the bad element gnawing at everyone today — four weeks just isn’t enough. It’s not only too short of a timeframe; it just doesn’t work for a show like DWTS. Double and triple eliminations each week were downright insulting to the contestants and the pros who work so hard. 

It doesn’t look like the four-week season will ever happen again, according to host Tom Bergeron. He tweeted last week, “Don’t think you’ll ever see a 4 week season again. Our fall season will be a return to spray-tanned sanity. OK, maybe not sanity, but a normal-sized season.” 


We don’t know if we will even have a spring season in 2019, but let’s end Season 26 on a positive note. 

Here are the three major takeaways from DWTS: Athletes.


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1. Theme: For a show that has been around since 2005, this type of thematic works. I don’t think All-Stars works, but a more concentrated selection of contestants does. Most of the athletes showed up prepared to work, were driven by a sense of competition yet still had great attitudes. I am open to other themed seasons — ringers, second chances for finalists or even first-out contestants. The DWTS producers could run for years with themes like this.


2. Pros: This was a season when newer pros, who often get overshadowed by the longtime pros, had a chance to shine. Jenna Johnson stepped back into a pro position, Keo Motsepe wasn’t the first pro out, Sasha Farber made it to his first finale — these are all positive outcomes from Season 26. 


I hope the producers take note that rotating pros in and out actually keeps the show fresh and it keeps the DWTS fans on their toes to root for a variety of pros versus just one. 


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3. Freestyles: I know I might be in the minority on this, but I thought all three freestyles were successful for different reasons. Sasha picked the perfect genre for Tonya Harding, Jenna took a risk with Adam Rippon that only one or two other pros would have dared to try and Sharna Burgess had the most fully realized freestyle piece with Josh Norman.

I was thrilled it wasn’t three contemporary pieces — they were all unexpected. It kept me on my toes as a viewer and I appreciated what each pro set out to do. There are have been some seasons that were so predictable, I didn’t need to watch the outcome. Season 26 delivered something new. 


So we leave Season 26 behind with Adam and Jenna taking home the Mirrorball Trophy. There were many lessons learned on the fan side, so I hope that ABC walked away with some lessons as well. We have a confirmed Season 27 in the fall, along with the spinoff of Dancing With the Stars: Juniors on Sunday evenings — who knows what the spring will bring?

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