Rob Wade says Dancing With the Stars won’t be the same old song this season. The DWTS executive producer is teasing a few changes for Season 22 of the celebrity ballroom competition. In an interview with TV Guide, Wade said fans can expect several DWTS staples, including theme nights, judges’ choice, and the return of Len Goodman. But Rob reveals there will also be a few switch-ups—and not just with that pesky Switch Up week!
Ron Wade said producers are happy to bring back longtime judge Goodman, as well as one of DWTS’ early dancers, Edyta Sliwinska. And as far as the weekly themes go, expect to see recurring favorites including Disney Night, Latin night, and the partner-swapping Switch Up. Wade said viewers seem to like the familiar formula.
“We’ve gotten to a format viewers think is fair and they’re comfortable with it, so we don’t want to change it.”
But in addition to the tried and true dance themes, Rob Wade said the new season of DWTS will include more behind-the-scenes bits and unscripted humor pieces in a variety show type mode.
“We’re really going to embody the liveliness of the show. We’re not afraid to rip up rule book up a bit.”
As the Dancing With the Stars showrunner since 2014, Rob Wade has mixed things up a bit. Last season kicked off with a huge opening number on Hollywood Boulevard that led to the ballroom, and the season finale took place outside at the Grove, where thousands of spectators gathered to watch Bindi Irwin’s mirrorball trophy win. Rob previously told The Wrap that whenever changes are made to the show, fans eat it up.
“I think every time we try something new and different, we seem to get a really, really positive reaction for it. People responded very well to the new themes and the new challenges … We did a dance-off in which America sort of voted in real time on who to send home, which got an incredible response from people…The format is so good and strong that you can kind of always push the boundaries and do new things. It’s a process, and obviously some things you do work and some things don’t work, but yes. There’s stuff that surprises us all the time. And when you’re making live television, you’re constantly being surprised by things.”
Still, while Rob says he likes to make changes and push the envelope, he’s careful not to stray too far from the DWTS that fans know and love.
“I think the main thing is you don’t want to go away from the heart of the show. The show’s format is very strong. So you want to keep the heart of the show.”
While Rob Wade talked about the return of “grumpy judge” Goodman, fans will notice that both Julianne and Derek Hough are out this season. Returning pro dancer (and judge Carrie Ann Inaba’s ex) Artem Chigvintsev told Wetpaint that he’s looking forward to the return of Len to the scoring table because the British judge is more of a traditionalist. Artem also commented on how much the ABC dancing competition has changed over the years.
“I think when originally this show started, it was very ballroom like dancing. Now they’ve evolved and introduced so many styles of dance, it’s very different. It’s very flashy. So you kind of now have to transition from the traditional stuff to showy moves. And it’s hard to find that balance.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
Take a look at the video to see the DWTS outdoor premiere routine that Rob Wade was talking about.
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images]