Jenna Johnson and Val Chmerkovskiy both returned for Dancing With the Stars this season, but they spent more time with their celebrity partners than themselves thanks to the strict coronavirus safety measures producers put in place. In an exclusive interview, Johnson told PopCulture that being separated from her husband the "hardest part" of the new measures for her. Johnson and Chmerkovskiy married in April 2019.
This has been "such a different season" thanks to the safety plan and many of the dancers were "a little scared going into it," Johnson said, adding that it has been "such a blessing" that everyone was healthy during the season. The cost for making sure the show could continue without any pauses was isolating the competing duos to prevent the spread of the virus. It meant for nine weeks, Johnson lived away from Chmerkovskiy. The other married pros - Emma Slator and Sasha Farber, and Daniella Karagach and Pasha Pashkov - were also separated.
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Johnson said being apart was the "hardest part," and it was "pretty difficult" not to run up to Chmerkovskiy to hug and kiss him when they were on the same set. "But I'm really grateful to Dancing With the Stars, that they've taken, all the precautions so seriously," Johnson said. "And that we've been able to work."
While Johnson and her celebrity partner, Nev Schulman, have made it to the semi-finals, Chmerkovskiy and Monica Aldama were eliminated on Oct. 26. It was bittersweet for Johnson, who was happy to have him back home but was sad to see him leave the competition. "I was so disappointed for him when he got eliminated because I love watching him on the show and just watching him perform and dance," she told PopCulture. "So I guess the silver lining was that I got to have him back home." After Chmerkovskiy was eliminated, the couple took a trip to Terranea Resort, seven months after their first wedding anniversary.
There are just two episodes of Dancing With the Stars Season 29 left to go, meaning the pressure is turned up to 11. There are high expectations for Shulman and Johnson, who have been among the top scorers all season. The two hit the dance floor again at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Monday. The other remaining duos are Justina Machado and Farber, Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten, Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart, Nelly and Karagach, and Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev.