'Dancing With the Stars': Everything We Know So Far About the New Season (Exclusive)

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'Dancing With the Stars' Judges Carrie Ann Inana, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli
Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

After months of questioning how Dancing With the Stars could even move forward with production amid the coronavirus pandemic, we're now just weeks away from seeing everything the cast and crew has magically been up to behind the scenes to ensure that the show still goes on.

In anticipation of the dance competition's return, ET's breaking down everything we know (so far!) about the all-new 29th season.

PAIRINGS WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT MONTH.

ET has learned that which celebrities the pros will be matched up with won't be revealed until premiere night, Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

 

THERE ARE MORE PROS THIS SEASON.

Reigning mirrorball champion Alan Bersten is back to defend his title, alongside veteran pros Gleb Savchenko, Peta Murgatroyd, Val Chmerkovskiy, Jenna Johnson, Sasha Farber, Emma Slater, Brandon Armstrong, Keo Motsepe, Cheryl Burke and Pasha Pashkov.

Season 29 will also feature the long-awaited return of fan-favorite dancer Sharna Burgess, while Britt Stewart and Daniella Karagach will be paired with celebrity partners for the first time. With Britt stepping into the role, this will mark the first time in the show's history that they've had a Black female pro. 

Oh and get this! Good Morning America revealed that a big surprise announcement is coming Monday, Aug. 24. The show teased via Twitter that another pro will be revealed, and judging from the clues -- "he just had a baby with the love of his life, and she knows how to kick some a**" -- it's pretty obvious it's Artem Chigvintsev.

Noticeably absent from this year's lineup are Witney Carson and Lindsay Arnold, who confirmed to ET earlier this year that they were sitting the season out due to their pregnancies.

 

SOME ARE A LITTLE INTIMIDATED BY SHARNA'S RETURN.

"She's going to come back, like, guns blazing," Emma joked to ET, with Britt adding, "I think that having Sharna, and Daniella, it's going to be a powerhouse; a lot of energy."

"I would probably have to say, Sharna is my biggest competition, only because she's back," Britt continued. "She's a fan-favorite and I love that girl. She is fire. She's going to be back with a vengeance!"

 

THE PROS WILL BE MEETING THEIR CELEBRITY PARTNERS 'VERY SOON.'

Emma told ET that as of Aug. 18, the pros had yet to meet their partners. "We're hearing very soon, maybe the end of the month," she shared. "We don't have any dates yet but I know that it'll be a little bit of time for us to be separated first and then pretty soon after we'll get to meet our partners. We're all eager."

"We won't know who are partners are until we walk through the door," she added. "But I'm hearing that the celeb cast is going to be phenomenal."

The only celebrity confirmed so far to compete for the mirrorball trophy is former Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe. "I'll be happy with whoever they partner me with. I just feel like they're all incredible," Bristowe said of the pro dancers, while chatting with ET after the exciting reveal in June. "They have to be to be on that show!"

 

THERE WILL BE NO TRAVELING.

Unlike past seasons, where pros usually travel back and forth from their celeb partner's hometown to Los Angeles for show day, that won't be happening due to COVID-19.

"No travel, we're all in L.A. The producers and the show have worked really hard to make this lockdown and quarantine as safe as possible, which is great," Emma said, telling ET that this will give the pairs even more time to focus on the choreography.

 

THE MARRIED COUPLES HAVE TO LIVE APART DURING PRODUCTION.

Sasha and Emma confirmed to ET that they'll be living apart for however long they make it in the competition, along with Val and Jenna and Pasha and Daniella.

"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," Emma shared, with Sasha chiming in to explain just how seriously precautions are being taken.

"It's great that producers thought of this," he said. "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."

 

THE PROS WILL BE 'IN A BUBBLE' WITH THEIR CELEB PARTNERS.

"The most different thing about this season is that we will not be able to have [close] interaction with the other pros and the other couples; we have to stay eight feet away from everybody else," Britt explained. "We're really going to be in this bubble with our partners, which I think is kind of fun, because we'll really be able to create this great relationship with our partners to last through, hopefully, the whole season."

"As of right now, we will be living separately and in our own places, and then we'll just be in a bubble within the rehearsal studio," she added. "I think come show day, people probably won't have any idea what our fellow competitors will be doing, which I think will bring a new level of excitement and fun to it as well."

 

CAMERAS WILL BE ON THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRETY OF REHEARSALS.

Emma told ET that due to extra safety precautions, the pairs will no longer be able to peek inside each other's rehearsals. However, the cameras will be there to catch everything!

"We usually do this 'show and tell' where we sit down and watch each other perform, give each other notes," she explained. "It's going to be different because the cameras are going to be in the room with us the entire time. Like, you and your partner are going to have everything recorded, and I think the things that are going to come out of that are going to be hilarious."

 

EXPECT TYRA BANKS TO DEFINITELY TURN IT UP A NOTCH AS HOST.

Britt raved to ET that "her personality and energy is just so big and so magnificent."

"I really think it's going to bring this new energy into the ballroom. I feel like I'm part of that new energy, too, and I just think it's the perfect time," she said. "The season's going to look really different, and there's no expectations. I think that gives us this amazing opportunity to just have this new energy and just all sorts of fantasticness."

 

THE BALLROOM WILL LOOK 'INCREDIBLE.'

According to Sasha, "some awesome changes" are coming.

"I can't really say too much but... all these people are like, 'How are you guys going to do it? How's the show going to run, how are you going to do it in the ballroom?' And producers have figured out a way where it's going to work so beautiful and seamless," he teased. "The ballroom and more. Think about it! It's gonna be big and it's gonna be awesome."

 

GET READY FOR 'A WHOLE NEW SHOW.'

"It's just going to be new all around," Britt teased. "It's going to be a season like you've never seen."

Sasha told ET that the updates to the show are so "cool," that he could see producers keeping them even after the pandemic is over.

"There's so many little things in the mix that are full-on game changers. When we heard them we were like, 'Oh, why didn't we do this before? This is going to be epic,'" he teased. "They've really found the best formula for this show to happen. I think this is definitely going to up the show, definitely up the dancing and the effects. And definitely make people want to watch it to see, like, 'Oh, wow, that's how that happened.'"

"We're going to make history this season," Emma added. "I think it's going to be different in how we dance with our partners, too. Are we going to do closed contact a lot of the time? There was a discussion, like, is it going to change the way we think about dancing? It's going to be really creative, keep us on our toes and there's going to be some fresh new looks."

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