“Dancing with the Stars” crowns a new winner for season 30

Season 30 cast during rehearsals for the finale. Photo posted by @DancingABC on Instagram.

Season 30 cast during rehearsals for the finale. Photo posted by @DancingABC on Instagram.

Noa Rabkin, Contributing Writer

For over sixteen years, “Dancing with the Stars” has been a widely popular reality competition show. Celebrities are paired with professional dancers to compete for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. The newest season, a monumental season 30, kicked off mid-September, with celebrities including former Bachelor Matt James, “90210” actor Brian Austin Green and Spice Girl Melanie C.

The finals premiered on Nov. 22, where the last four celebrities and their partners performed two dances: a fusion dance, which combines two dance styles into one dance, as well as a freestyle. Former NBA player Iman Shumpert, TV personality and social media star JoJo Siwa, Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby and co-host of “The Talk” Amanda Kloots danced their hearts out, each trying to take that first-place prize.

Amanda Kloots
Amanda Kloots became a well-known name in the media when her husband, Broadway actor Nick Cordero, sadly passed away from complications of COVID in July 2020. She has one son, 2-year-old Elvis, who cheered on his mom from home. Kloots and her partner, season 28 champion Alan Bersten, had a great run this season with memorable moments such as their first perfect score on week eight, dancing jazz to “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson. But this season wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Kloots has had many amazing dances loved by fans, but not necessarily by the judges. On week seven, Queen Night, Kloots went first, dancing the jive to “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Fans were tweeting saying that her scores were inconsistent, one tweeting that “… the judges are biased for whatever reason. They are unfairly critical of Amanda and I don’t get it. That dance was amazing.”

Another fan wrote, “Something is definitely up with the wacky scores. I’ve reviewed the dances the last few weeks to find the ‘mistakes’ mentioned and they aren’t there. Pure BS!” Kloots and Bersten improved their dance skills immensely and placed fourth in the competition.

Cody Rigsby
Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby has been an icon ever since he climbed up on the bike. For season 30, Rigsby was partnered with two-time DWTS champion Cheryl Burke. During the second week of competition, Burke tested positive for COVID, and because of this, she was unable to perform with Rigsby. Instead of performing live, they were judged off of their rehearsal footage. Then, on week three, Rigsby received a positive COVID test and had to dance their jazz virtually to Britney Spears’ smash hit, “Gimme More.” Since that setback, their journey to the finale has been a rollercoaster, ending with a third-place finish. In all, I thought they did pretty well, I mean, Cheryl Burke is one of my favorite female professional dancers on the show. I wasn’t really a fan of how Rigsby didn’t improve as much as the other contestants, and I also believe that Amanda Kloots did far better than Cody Rigsby. It all depends on how many people vote for each couple, and I thought that Melora would make it to the finale and possibly get third or fourth place. My ranking for the end results would be Cody (fourth), Amanda (third), JoJo (second), and Iman (first).

JoJo Siwa
It’s no secret that JoJo Siwa is a popular name, from her time on “Dance Moms” to coming out in early 2021. It was announced that she would be dancing with a female partner, making “Dancing with the Stars” history. Fans were enraged when a former dancer was put on the show, saying that since she has dance experience, she shouldn’t be there. Melanie C, Melora Hardin, Amanda Kloots, Cody Rigsby and so many more celebrities this season have had previous dance experience and didn’t get any hate for their appearance on the show. Siwa and her partner, Jenna Johnson, changed the views of fans of the show, earning both high and low scores this season. The pair have a sisterly bond, even calling each other big and little sisters. Like last season, Johnson ended up placing second with Siwa.

Iman Shumpert
Former shooting guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Iman Shumpert, was partnered with Daniella Karagach, two-time “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancer. Karagach danced with Grammy award-winning singer Nelly for season 29, making it to the finals. Throughout the competition, Shumpert was considered the underdog, earning consistently lower scores than the other contestants. So when it was announced that he made the finals, fans went crazy, saying that Olympian Suni Lee, who had gotten high scores since week seven, shouldn’t have been eliminated. But that quickly changed when the finals began. Shumpert and Karagach earned a perfect score for both of their dances and were crowned the winners and new champions of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Are older contestants getting enough recognition?
As the reality series continues, more and more older celebrities don’t get enough recognition for their dances. The oldest female winner was actress Jennifer Grey, who won at age 50 with now-judge Derek Hough. Since week one, I have been rooting for Melora Hardin, 54, a TV and film actress known for her role as Jan Levinson in “The Office,” one show I am an avid fan of. Hardin’s best week, in my opinion, was the two-night Disney event, heroes and villains night. On heroes night, she danced the quickstep inspired by “The Jungle Book” with her partner Artem Chigvintsev, earning four nines, the highest score of the night. Then, on villains night, she danced a jazz routine to “Mother Knows Best” from the hit Disney movie, “Tangled.” She got the first 10 of the season, awarded by head judge, Len Goodman.

Because of these high scores, I thought she had a pretty good chance of winning the whole competition, especially since judge Carrie Ann Inaba said that she is the best dancer technique-wise in the season. But when she got eliminated by viewer votes during the semi-finals, I realized it was inevitable. Her fan base isn’t as huge compared to Cody Rigsby’s, so I knew that even if she earned higher scores, her votes wouldn’t have saved her. Also, if she would have won, she would break the record of being the oldest winner in “Dancing with the Stars” history, surpassing Donny Osmond, who won season nine at 51 years old. Chigvintsev, who won season 29, said in an interview with Page Six and other news reporters after the show that people aren’t backing up older celebrities on the show.

“I don’t understand why people don’t get behind this,” Chigvintsev said. “The people who are watching our show, the core audience, is that [age]. It makes no sense in my mind, why women of [Melora’s] age would not get behind [her] and be like, ‘I don’t think I can do this. And I’m just so happy to see someone doing it… I’m gonna stand behind it, I’m gonna support it!’”

While I was devastated to see my favorite team leave the competition, I still wanted to cheer on Iman Shumpert and Daniella Karagach, my second favorite team. Hopefully, we’ll see fan-favorite pros and celebrities compete for the Mirrorball Trophy in Sept. 2022, when the 31st season premieres.