Some “Dancing With the Stars” fans think Jenna Johnson isn’t as good as some of the other pros because she doesn’t know how to dance with a partner who isn’t as talented as she is. Here is what they said and which pros they think are better at doing that.
Some Fans Think Jenna Can’t ‘Dance Down’ To Her Partners
In a Reddit thread, a “Dancing WIth the Stars” fan posits the theory that Jenna lacks “the ability to ‘dance down’ to her partner’s level.” He said that he and his wife are long-time fans and always kind of thought Jenna “doesn’t choreograph to show off her partner,” but now that she’s been dancing with someone as good as JoJo Siwa, they’ve changed their minds because a family friend who is a retired professional dancer pointed out to them that it’s actually that she lacks the ability to match a less talented partner.
[The friend] showed us that Jenna choreographs very well. The problem is Jenna seems to lack the ability to “dance down” to her partner’s level. We went down a whole YouTube rabbit hole. So, if Jenna has a partner with a normal dancing skill level, she is dancing hard and hitting every move, seemingly like she is in a real ballroom competition. Your eyes naturally follow her, she is an excellent dancer after all (even the biggest Jenna haters can’t possibly say she isn’t a great dancer). Leaving you feeling at the end of the dance that the partner did very little. So during the seasons when she has someone who can hit those same sharp moves, it isn’t an issue.
He went on to say that this was an “eye-opening” revelation” and that when you compare her to some of her contemporaries like Lindsay Arnold or Witney Carson, you can see those pros “obviously, painfully even sometimes, slowing down their movements to match their partners’ abilities.”
Another Reddit user chimed in to say that Derek Hough once mentioned in one of his YouTube videos that this was a critique he got early on when he first joined the show, that he was “out-performing his partner and had to learn to dance ‘smaller.'”
This was a revelation for a few users, one of whom wrote, “I’ve always said I feel Jenna just uses her partner to showcase her, but this season I didn’t feel that as much and it’s probably because JoJo has experience so it’s not as noticeable.”
In a separate thread, a user said that they’ve always thought Jenna “dances around her partner,” but this season changed their mind.
“Prior to this season, I thought Jenna was not the best choreographer and most of her choreography included her dancing around her partner. This season has changed that opinion 180 degrees. She has done so much creative choreography and I think she has really showcased JoJo quite a bit,” wrote the user.
There Was Debate About Whether Daniella Karagach Has the Same Problem
Someone said they think Daniella Karagach also has this problem, but another fan said that Daniella choreographs better for her partners.
“I think the difference of the two is while Dani is hitting all her marks, she makes sure that her partner is hitting their own unique marks, where I think Jenna choreographs the same marks and that sometimes makes it look off! Dani is really good at bringing out her partners’ pros and making it look good next to her,” wrote that user.
But also, Daniella has only been a pro for two seasons, so the sample size is very small. As far as the other pros go, a couple of users pointed out that they think Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater are very good at “dancing down” to their partners.
One user wrote:
The pro has to “fade” so that they showcase their partner. If they are showing perfect technique then that highlights less than perfect technique from their partner. They also need to know how to cover their partners’ weaknesses: if, for example, on a turn, their partner has a poor foot position, that’s the step that is done with the pro shielding the partner from the judge’s view.
Watch Sharna dancing with Artem vs. her dancing with Hinchcliffe. She stepped down her movements for James – particularly in the early days – whereas, with Artem, the movements are at the top of her skill set. She also used the moves that James did very well repeatedly, which allowed him to shine and also to improve on those already “good” moves.
Another user added, “I think Sharna is beautiful at this, and so is Emma. It allows us to really enjoy the performance.”
One fan said that they think Jenna lost season 29 “because her freestyle didn’t solely highlight Nev [Schulman]” and focused too much on her. It will be interesting to see what her freestyle with JoJo looks like come the finale on Monday, November 22.
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on ABC.