Season 26 of ‘Dancing With The Stars’: 6 Questions for Gleb Savchenko
Updated: Apr 29
Season 26 of Dancing With the Stars begins on Monday, April 30, but Dance Dish wanted to ask the pros from Pro Dance Camp what they were looking forward to the most this season. We asked them six questions for Season 26 — our third feature is on Gleb Savchenko.
Gleb began on DWTS in Season 16 with his first contestant, Lisa Vanderpump. He was in troupe during Season 17 before he headed overseas to do Dancing With the Stars in Russia and Strictly Come Dancing in the U.K. in 2015.
He returned to the U.S. version of DWTS with Season 23 and delivered one of the steamiest dances ever on the show with Jana Kramer. He and wife, Elena Samodanova, are busy preparing for the opening of their dance studio, Pro Dance LA.
Here are our six questions for Gleb:
Dance Dish: What are you going to continue to do in Season 26 that served you well in Season 25?
Gleb Savchenko: Season 25, I had a lot of fun. You must make your celebrity feel like it’s not hard work. She wants to come to rehearsals, she wants to work hard, but you have to make it fun.
With Sasha [Pieterse], we clicked from Day 1. We laughed so much… probably laughed more than we rehearsed… if we rehearsed a little bit more, we would have stayed longer. [He laughs]
When I went back with Season 23, there was more stress and drama; I had a partner [Jana Kramer] who was very dramatic, too. We worked hard and all of that travel — it wasn’t as much fun. So taking it from Season 25, I am going to have fun, but work hard, too.
DD: What’s the one thing you would like to improve upon for Season 26?
Gleb: There’s nothing much I can do to improve. It’s a mixture of feelings. If you get someone who’s not very good with zero dance experience, you can’t do much. I don’t show my ability of what I can do in terms of choreography, concept and quality of dance.
If you get someone who’s good, it’s a lot of pressure, too. Then you have to create and step up with the choreography, but I love challenges. I am up for it. I want someone who’s really, really good.
DD: If you were Co-Executive Producer Deena Katz and could cast three athletes, whom would you pick for Season 26?
Gleb: I would definitely bring the girl who was second at the Olympics in figure skating, the Russian [Evgenia Medvedeva] — 100% for her. I would win like that! She’s amazing and I have so many ideas I would want to do.
Anna Kournikova, the tennis player and a soccer player… Cristiano Ronaldo.
DD: Tell us the one dance from any season that you would never redo because you loved how it turned out.
Gleb: Shower Argentine Tango… 100%.
DD: Is there one dance you would love to redo?
Gleb: Oh yes, yes, yes! The freestyle in the finale in Season 23 — I would redo it. I was so sick for three weeks before the finale and it was a stressful season. I had no energy to even think. I would not change the concept, but I would commit more and dance with more passion. It would be different.
DD: If you were a judge, what would you like to tell the pros and celebs since you know what it’s like to be standing in front of the judges?
Gleb: It’s not a dance competition; it’s a television show. You have to give the right criticism about their performance, but you have to entertain. The judges are entertainers, too. Grumpy Len Goodman, funny Bruno [Tonioli] and crazy Carrie Ann [Inanba], so you have to be your own character.
As a dancer on the other side, I expect them to say something that is going to help me for the next week. Sometimes they say something and you think it’s not important because it’s not going to help me. Then time passes and you go back, you realize it was a great comment.
If I were a judge, I have to be me. I would be a tough judge. I am more Len. It’s hard to please me. It’s a Russian mentality. We were raised that we were never good enough. If you tell me it was great… well, it always could be better.
We are trying to perfect something that can never be perfect. There’s always something better and something more creative. So yes, I would be a tough judge — Grumpy Gleb. [We both burst out laughing.]
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