Change is hard, especially when it comes to Dancing With the Stars. After 15 years of Tom Bergeron as host, everything changed over the summer when ABC brought in Tyra Banks to replace Bergeron and Erin Andrews. It was difficult to say goodbye to their "dancing dad," but pro dancer Jenna Johnson said it has been "just crazy" for her to work with Banks.
Bergeron hosted every season of Dancing With the Stars until ABC made the surprising change. Bergeron was the "face of the show" for so long and "change is always hard," Johnson said in an exclusive PopCulture interview. However, Johnson is a big fan of Banks' work and has "thoroughly enjoyed" getting to know her.
"She is iconic," Johnson said of Banks. "She's at my workplace. I sit there, and I'm looking face-to-face with Tyra Banks," Johnson said. "If you would've told me this at 12 years old, I would have never believed you. I adore her. I think that she is so sweet. [She's] been a great addition to the Dancing With the Stars family."
Don't get Johnson wrong though, she still "absolutely" misses Bergeron. "I feel like Tom is all of our dance dad," she said. "I joined the show when I was 19 years old, freshly 19 years old. And I feel like he took me under his wing. And so I will always have massive love for Tom Bergeron."
There are other big changes on Dancing With the Stars this season, but not because of a new creative direction. The dancers have to perform without a crowd cheering them on. It was a little difficult to get used to, but Johnson said there was an advantage to it fans at home might not notice. The celebrities, some of whom are not used to performing in front of a live audience, get to focus more on their dancing without distractions.
"I thought I was going to hate it a lot more than I actually do," Johnson explained. "Obviously, there's dances and moments where you wish there were that audience reaction, especially as a performer. You love performing for a live audience. But I think it helps the celebrities focus a little bit more and not be as distracted. Sometimes those nerves get the best of them during a live performance. If they're distracted about, 'Who's in the audience? Are people standing? Are people not?' So I think it's actually... been a perk."
Johnson and Catfish host Nev Schulman reached the semi-finals this season. They will dance to Harry Styles' "Sign of the Times" and "If the World Was Ending" by JP Saxe and Julia Michaels in Monday night's episode. The other remaining dance duos are Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev; Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten; Justina Machado and Sasha Farber; Nelly and Daniella Karagach; and Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart.