• Kristyn Burtt

'Dancing with the Stars': Let's Talk About Laurie Hernandez

Updated: Apr 1


I have to admit, I was a bit worried about Laurie Hernandez for the last few weeks. She’s a dynamo of a performer and she shot straight to the top the first few weeks of Season 23 on Dancing with the Stars, but I felt like she stalled on her way to the top.


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Contestants like James Hinchcliffe and Calvin Johnson started improving while Laurie stayed at the same level — a very impressive level, but one where I wasn’t seeing any progress. It was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on because her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, is a stickler when it comes to technique. 


Laurie has probably the hardest schedule out of any contestant because she’s 16, she has home-schooling hours, DWTS rehearsals and travel and performances tied to the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. I’m impressed that she’s kept up her spirits and her health during this hectic time. 


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I think Val finally saw that he needed to keep up with the strides that #TeamStopandGo and #TeamLindsatron have made because they were no longer nipping at their heels, they had caught up. I saw a lot of negative Twitter chatter about his crying during their video package, but I know Val does care about the experience Laurie is having on the show. 


When Laurie took her spot on the dance floor, she knew exactly where she needed to be — every line was hit, every toe was pointed. It looks like Val had the opportunity to work with her in rehearsals on those minute details, details that are important at this stage of the game.

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Two weeks ago, I discussed Laurie’s breakthrough. The judges didn’t think it was her best week, but I considered it a success because she opened herself up emotionally. That aspect of her performance continued in the subsequent weeks, but now I’m happy to see the finer points of her dancing become sharper and more refined. 


There are only six contestants left with James and Calvin making strong statements for the finale, so I’m thrilled to see Laurie in the mix and making a serious run for that Mirror Ball Trophy. I think it’s going to be a fight to the finish between Laurie and James.

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