Good Morning America revealed the 12 new contestants to compete on the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars (premiering Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC) in New York City’s Times Square, but the real fun took place back in the ABC building’s cafeteria. That’s where I got a private dance lesson from Dancing With the Stars’ reigning champ, Apolo Anton Ohno. “It’s the request I’m most asked by fans,” he explained while effortlessly twirling me into a dip. Now I know why Apolo deserved the crown – he didn’t drop me.
The 25-year-old speed skater also imparted words of advice on how the new competitors could bag up this year’s competition. “Just perform,” he offered. “Make sure you’re giving the audience a good show, one you’d want to watch.”
Host Tom Bergeron was hoping that his pregnant co-host Samantha Harris would still be light on her feet and make the season opener. “She’s due in October, so we’re hoping she can do the first show,” he explained. He also revealed that a guest co-host will take Samantha’s place once she goes on maternity leave. “I can’t say who just yet, I think we picked the right person,” he teased.
I talked shoes with judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who was rocking a sassy pair of brown patent leather stilettos. “They’re Carlos Santana. That man knows shoes and music!” She’s still crazy in love with fellow ballroom dancer Artem Chigvinsev. The cutie couple spent the weekend in Wilmington, DE., where the So You Think You Can Dance alum is filming a movie. “We’re so opposite, but we so get each other,” she cooed. Carrie and I strategized over how a woman competitor could make it to the SYTYCD winner’s circle this season. “There are some amazing professional female dancers on this show, and I think our female competitors get compared to them,” theorized Carrie. She urged viewers to take a good look at how hard the female contestants work. “They have to be the art to the man’s frame, and they are doing it in heels!” And you know Carrie knows footwear!

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