Have you ever wanted to dance a perfectly choreographed rumba in the arms of your favorite celebrity? Or teach them a tango and partner up to perform before a panel of judges? Then you’ve probably dreamed about joining the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Besides being the ideal spot to light up the dance floor while grooving side by side with a famous face, “Dancing with the Stars” is a great place for talent with ambition. After getting cast on the show for a season, many dancers and choreographers become series regulars. For instance, fan-favorite Cheryl Burke retired from the show in 2022 after 26 seasons.
In this guide, we’ll divulge everything we know about the audition and casting process for the hit reality series. We’ve also brought together tips and stories from cast members, whose insights will help you take your dance mastery to a camera-ready level.
- What is “Dancing with the Stars” about?
- Who is in the cast of “Dancing with the Stars”?
- Who is the “Dancing with the Stars” casting director?
- How does “Dancing with the Stars” cast dancers?
- Where is “Dancing with the Stars” filmed?
- Where can you find “Dancing with the Stars” casting calls?
- Audition tips for “Dancing with the Stars” + other dance shows
“Dancing with the Stars” is based on the 2004 British competition series “Strictly Come Dancing,” created by Richard Hopkins, Fenia Vardanis, and Karen Smith. The U.S. version debuted in 2005 and is now on Season 32, which premiered Sept. 26.
On the show, professional dancers pair up with celebrities of all kinds—including actors, comedians, singers, and athletes. Each week, the duos execute dramatic and sizzling choreography to earn points from a panel of judges and votes from the audience at home. Then, based on the lowest points and votes, a pair is eliminated each week. During the season finale, the duo with the most votes and points is declared the winner and gets to take home the prized, newly named Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy. Goodman was the head judge on the show since 2005. He retired last year at the end of Season 31 and passed away in April 2023. The show announced it was renaming the Mirrorball Trophy in his honor right before Season 32 premiered.
From Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews to Alfonso Ribeiro and Tyra Banks, “Dancing with the Stars” has had a variety of hosts throughout its run, including Season 32’s new co-host, Julianne Hough. Fans of the show remember Hough as one of the youngest pro dancers ever to join the cast. She went on to win the Mirrorball trophy twice and even became a judge for a season. Hough is co-host alongside Ribeiro, who won Season 19 with dance partner Witney Carson. Here’s a full breakdown of Season 32’s hosts, judges, dancers, and celebrities.
The hosts and judges for Season 32 are:
- Alfonso Ribeiro (co-host)
- Julianne Hough (co-host)
- Carrie Ann Inaba (judge)
- Derek Hough (judge)
- Bruno Tonioli (judge)
The Season 32 professional dancers are:
- Brandon Armstrong
- Rylee Arnold
- Alan Bersten
- Artem Chigvintsev
- Val Chmerkovskiy
- Sasha Farber
- Koko Iwasaki
- Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy
- Daniella Karagach
- Peta Murgatroyd
- Pasha Pashkov
- Gleb Savchenko
- Emma Slater
- Britt Stewart
The Season 32 celebrities are:
- Tyson Beckford
- Xochitl Gomez
- Alyson Hannigan
- Harry Jowsey
- Charity Lawson
- Ariana Madix
- Jason Mraz
- Adrian Peterson
- Lele Pons
- Mira Sorvino
- Jamie Lynn Spears
- Mauricio Umansky
- Matt Walsh
- Barry Williams
Deena Katz is the primary casting director of “Dancing with the Stars.” Throughout her long tenure with the show, she’s also had other roles with the hit series. From 2006–2011, Katz worked as a producer for the show. Additionally, she was the senior talent producer from 2008–2013 and a co-executive producer from 2011–2019. Katz’s other credits include “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Celebrity Big Brother,” and “The Masked Singer,” among others.
As Katz told Slate, the show was created to fill a hole in the reality series market. Instead of the knives-out, gossipy style of celebrity shows that were prevalent at the beginning of the 21st century (think “The Surreal Life”), “Dancing with the Stars” was pitched as easygoing and accessible. “[People on the show] are never fighting with each other,” Katz shared. “They are just angry they aren’t learning their quickstep.”
Each season, Katz has to pair a celebrity with a pro dancer as their competitive partner. Although the process involves “basic ideas of height to make sure that everybody has the best chance…. It’s more about the personality,” she told Heavy. “Some of the athletes like to be coached differently than maybe an actor or somebody else. So I meet every single one of them because I want every single partnership to shine.”
The result is like “the best dinner party,” she said. In the end, it’s about finding “the best partnerships possible” that the audience “will fall in love [with] when [they] watch their journey.”
Unlike many talent-based competition shows, there are no onscreen auditions for “Dancing with the Stars.” The show announces its slate of guest celebrities and their dance partners prior to the premiere of each season.
The dancers selected for the show always have extensive training and experience. Most have performed since they were very young, at both national and international dance competitions, and they usually have prior television experience. A majority of the series’ dancers first appear on other dance-related competition shows, including “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Got Talent.” While many dancers remain with the show for an extended period of time, much of the lineup of professional dancers and choreographers changes from season to season.
Although the casting department recruits directly, the show sometimes holds open auditions. The process includes meeting with the producers and filming a performance. Previous experience should be considered vital, but the eligibility criteria for prospects is minimal:
- Contestants must be 18 years of age or older.
- You must be an American citizen or should have a working permit in the U.S.
- You must pay your own travel expenses for the auditions.
- You should accept a legal background check from the producers.
Derek Hough, a current judge on the show, started as a pro dancer—and won a record-breaking six times. In his audition tape from 2006, Hough told the casting team, “I’m dynamic, charismatic, [and] can bring many different styles and influences onto the dance floor. I love entertaining. I love entertaining people.” In addition to his energetic interview, Hough demonstrated an impressive spin on his tape. He also brought in lots of experience. Before he ever auditioned, he had won the World DanceSport Federation’s World Latin Championship.
Besides casting competitive dance partners for the celebrities, “Dancing with the Stars” also looks for talent for other roles. Although no longer part of the program, a troupe of pro dancers would previously perform non-partnered dances during the show. The casting department would sometimes select troupe members for the main competition in the following season. The brand also has a live revue, as well as a “Dancing with the Stars” DVD series, which resulted in several casting notices on Backstage for backup dancers.
“Dancing with the Stars” has filmed every one of its seasons at Television City, a studio in Los Angeles. There were rumors that renovations would force the show to move out this year; however, that has proved to be not the case. Television City itself is part of TV history. CBS opened the studio in 1952, and a number of popular television programs have filmed there over the years, including “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “Wheel of Fortune” and several soap operas.
The production schedule for Season 33 hasn’t been announced, which means there are currently no active auditions or casting calls for new dancers.
As mentioned, the bulk of dancers on the show have been those who’ve made their mark on other dance-oriented shows. Therefore, be sure to bookmark our reality TV casting roundup for any updates—and definitely check out other upcoming projects that need dancers. Keeping your dance résumé active is always a good idea to help dancers advance their careers.
“When you’re forming a partnership through dance, you have to build trust,” wrote Burke for Dance Magazine. “With so many of my partners, I’ve become their rock. They can know the steps like the back of their hand but still feel insecure, and we have to get down to what’s really making them feel that way.”
Alexis Warr, a performer with the “Derek Hough Live!” dance tour, told Dance Dish With KB that her audition “mindset was to show [Hough] who I was as a dancer and as a human.” And after she left the audition, she says she “felt great. I also reminded myself that whatever’s meant to be will be.” She got the gig.
Warr also shared Hough’s advice to her and the other tour performers: “Derek gave us a little talk about it, because in this industry, we are surrounded by so much judgment, so much negativity. We sometimes feel a lot of pressure in the dance world. Sometimes I question myself: Am I enough? Am I doing the right thing? And what these dances and what Derek is saying—you are enough and you always have been and you always will be.”
Becoming a professional dancer requires a lot of dedication, skill, and talent. In fact, the journey can be grueling. That’s why Brittany Cherry encourages dancers not to give up, but also not to wear out. “I think the hardest thing about being a dancer is the ability to check in with yourself both physically and mentally as much as possible,” she told VoyageLA, especially after “going to eight-hour auditions just to hear another ‘Not this time.’ ” Cherry eventually landed a gig as part of the “Dancing with the Stars” dance troupe.
Backstage Expert and movement coach Erika Shannon encourages dancers to be as prepared as possible, even if things aren’t certain. She points out that “even if you don’t know what the choreography is going to be, if you’re going to a dance call, there is no reason why your body can’t be warmed up, your mind can’t be centered. So before you audition, be sure to put your phone away, get into your body, stretch, warm yourself up, and be prepared—and eat! Don’t go to an audition with no food in your stomach because you will not be able to retain choreography or direction.”
In the end, the only way to get on “Dancing with the Stars” is to be prepared for your opportunity—whenever it might arrive. “So You Think You Can Dance” contestant Evan DeBenedetto told DancePlug, “The audition process is definitely grueling and long. It’s a big waiting game. You’re constantly proving yourself and [showing] that you deserve to be on the show, which is stressful, but at the same time, hopefully it’s all worth it.”
Check out Backstage’s dance audition listings!