Why Dancing With The Stars’ Married Pros Are Splitting Up For New Season

Dancing with the Stars Erin Andrews Sasha Farber Emma Slater James Van Der Beek ABC
(Image credit: Eric McCandless / ABC)

Dancing with the Stars is coming back this fall despite the coronavirus pandemic, and now two dancers have provided more insight into how that will go down. As fans know, the ABC series features competitors dancing in pretty close quarters during seasons, which presents some new challenges for the pandemic safety restrictions, including for the married pro dancers who will have to split.

Dancing with the Stars’ married professional dancers Emma Slater and Sasha Farber shared what's happening for them and the other two married pro dancing couples in the upcoming Season 29. Slater and Farber, along with fellow married couples, Jenna Johnson and Val Chmerkovskiy, and Daniella Karagach and Pasha Pashkov, have to split up for filming purposes. It will be the first season for Dancing with the Stars during the coronavirus pandemic and without its former hosts.

Before Emma Slater and Sasha Farber can start dancing with new celebrity partners for new host Tyra Banks, they have to live apart for production. Taking the move in stride, Slater told ET:

Everybody needs this right now. It's such an uplifting show and we're so incredibly proud to be part of it. But it's so funny. When our amazing producers told us, 'OK, so we have some news for you, you're going to have to be quarantined separately,' I laughed. I was nervous, so I just started laughing.

Laughing is one way to cope with the news! Emma Slater and Sasha Farber are still relative newlyweds. The pair got married in 2018 after Farber proposed to Slater during an episode of Dancing with the Stars. To their massive credit, they are willing to do what it takes to start filming despite safety restrictions. Last season, Slater placed a controversial fifth with celeb partner James Van Der Beek. Farber finished third with his celebrity partner, Ally Brooke. On the situation heading into the new season, Farber said:

But it's really important to do these things and it's great that producers thought of this. There's lots of things happening -- masks, social distancing -- and this is one way of making sure that everyone's safe, strong and the show goes on. Because we need this show!

The show must go on, and Sasha Farber is effusive in his praise of Dancing with the Stars finding a way to do so. He and Emma Slater will be joined by the other married pros, as well as the newly blonde Sharna Burgess. Additionally, the ABC dancing contest let go of original MC Tom Bergeron and his co-host Erin Andrews ahead of this season. Dancing with the Stars has replaced both co-hosts with industry veteran Tyra Banks.

Also not set to join Season 29 will be last season’s runner-up Witney Carson, who danced with All That’s Kel Mitchell. Carson is expecting her first child. Her fellow Dancing with the Stars pro, Lindsay Arnold, will be out for the same reason. While they are out, Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Cheryl Burke, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Gleb Savchenko, and Britt Stewart round out the professional partners. There are quite a few married couples within the roster.

As far as celebrities go in Season 29, The Bachelor franchise’s Kaitlyn Bristowe is set to compete. For the record, Dr. Fauci is not. Fans will have to wait and see how Dancing with the Stars’ competition will go down. Based on Emma Slater and Sasha Farber’s comments, it sounds like there could be a studio solution. Time will tell if the show is staged without the live audience to cheer on the pros and their celebrity counterparts. My guess is yes.

The Conners is set to go forward without its live studio audience to laugh at its jokes, after all. Between pro dancer spouses having to quarantine separately and the potential lack of those to applaud in-person, Dancing with the Stars is heading towards uncharted territory.

Tune in to see how it goes. Dancing with the Stars’ twenty-ninth season will premiere Monday, September 14, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. While you wait to return to life in the shimmering glow of the mirrorball, check out the other shows set to waltz their way onto this fall’s schedule.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.