Kerrigan enchants viewers on epic Disney nightOlympian, partner Chigvintsev receive raves for lavish production number
Surrounded by a talented chorus of dancers, two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan had another standout night on Dancing with the Stars, presenting an interpretation of the song "That's How You Know" from the film Enchanted with partner Artem Chigvintsev.
The performance was part of the always-popular Disney night. Professional dancer Keo Motsepe, who partnered Charo this season and danced several times on Monday's show, including in the opening number, provided insight into the tremendous preparation that goes into this special evening.
"Disney is one of the biggest nights on Dancing with the Stars every season," said Motsepe, who even danced with Minnie Mouse in one of the bumpers (performances between the competitive routines). "I love it. It makes me feel like a kid again."
Some of the routines on this episode include animation. When that's the case, the professionals choreograph space for the animated characters to be inserted. When Motsepe partnered actress Jodie Sweetin in Season 22, he set a routine only to have the characters changed.
Fortunately, Sweetin took it in stride, and they put together a revised routine.
"You're dealing with so many things: your partner, costumes, hair and makeup people, production, music, lighting," he said. "Some celebrities are quick learners and some take time."
While the lighting and set design on DWTS are always intricate, the scope of the Disney night show is that much larger, and the fact that it is a live show complicates things even further. The order in which couples perform may be dictated by how involved a set is. For example, Kerrigan and Chigvintsev's set was elaborate, and several members of the troupe took part in the routine.
"Everything is timed," Motsepe said. "Producers think, 'Can we move Nancy and Artem's set into place in five minutes?'
"I give props to our production team because what they do in a minute is unbelievable."
Motsepe said he approached Chigvintsev on Saturday to ask him how rehearsals were going.
"He said they were going very well, but it was a huge number," Motsepe said. "He kind of explained what he had in the number."
When Motsepe saw the actual routine at camera blocking on Sunday, he was blown away by the scope of it.
When creating a number like Kerrigan and Chigvintsev's, where members of the troupe are involved, the pro first has to outline the concept and get approval from the producers.
"You always make sure that you've prepped your partner's choreography and you prep the troupe's choreography," Motsepe noted. "If they're in the whole number, they'll probably practice with us for two days during the week. We'll do rehearsals with them and make sure the dance is on point. Then we do a wide, which is (a video of) the whole dance we send to the director so he can see the number and study it for lighting and cameras."
He was effusive in his praise of Kerrigan and Chigvintsev's Enchanted routine, which featured the skater in a red wig as an homage to the movie's lead actress, Amy Adams.
"The number was outstanding. It was beautiful," Motsepe said. "Nancy looked like she had a good time and had fun. I was waiting for that Nancy, and I thought, 'Yes.'
"She's an awesome person," he added. "She's so quiet, but when you get to know her, she opens up."