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PureDWTS Ask Court – How Do the Pros’ Contracts Work?

So we’ve been getting some questions on Twitter about how the pros’ contracts work – some of you were concerned about some of your faves leaving the show in the coming seasons, when their initial contract expires; others were just curious how the contracts work.  So here’s our best guess – keep in mind that contract negotiations in the biz are usually kept pretty hush-hush, for obvious reasons, so we don’t know exactly what’s written into each pro’s contract; this is just our best, educated guess based on what we’ve heard from people behind-the-scenes, what we’ve watched unfold, and what the pros themselves have said. Consider that your disclaimer 😉

How long are the pros’ contracts? From what we’ve been able to cobble from interviews the pros have done and intel we have from other sources at the show, it seems like the initial contract (the one the pros get when they first sign onto DWTS) is anywhere between 5-7 seasons (or 2.5-3.5 years), with a possible option to renegotiate after they’ve completed one year of their contract.  After their initial contract expires, it seems as though subsequent contracts are pretty open-ended – pros like Derek, Cheryl, & Kym seem like they’ve been able to negotiate on a season-by-season basis; other pros, like Lacey, appear to have gotten dropped from the roster and not offered a contract extension after their initial contract expired. Some of the one-and-done pros (think of the Jesse DeSoto’s, the Inna Brayer’s, the Tyne Stecklein’s, and the Andrea Hale’s of DWTS) likely were released from their contacts after only one season, when the producers were sure they weren’t going to use them again.

What does being “on contract” at DWTS entail? While being “on contract” certainly improves a pro’s odds of getting a partner each season, it’s not a guarantee; the only thing being on contract really means within the context of DWTS is that the show gets first dibs on you each season, and can use you for whatever purpose is within the scope of your contract – in this case, they can use you as a pro on the show, they can put you in the troupe, they can bench you for a season (and let you pursue other opportunities within that time frame, within reason), they can send you out on tour, they can send you to the (now defunct) Vegas show, they can send you out on one of the DWTS cruises, they can tap you for pro dances/bumpers, whatever. And as Lacey stated in an interview with Kristynyou only get paid if they actually use you.  But let’s say, like Sasha, you aren’t guaranteed a pro spot from season to season, and may alternate going back and forth from pro to troupe – the clock doesn’t stop on your contract, and you’re still burning up seasons on your contract whether you’re a pro, in the troupe, or not on the show at all. From what I can tell, TPTB can also veto any outside gigs you take if it puts you in direct competition with the network (although this seems to vary from pro to pro –  more on that later); so even though you’re getting paid (relatively) well when you are working for DWTS, there’s no guarantee you’ll be working from season to season, and they may also say “nope” to any outside jobs you try to take when you’re not working for them. This sort of exclusivity was ultimately the deal-breaker for a friend of mine who auditioned to be a pro back in 2009 – he had regular students back at his home dance studio, and couldn’t really wait till the last minute before each season to tell them whether he’d actually be around to teach them, and didn’t like the idea of having to “clear” any outside teaching/choreographing he was doing with ABC.

Do all the pros have the same contract? Definitely not.  At this point, some pros (i.e. Mark, Cheryl, Peta, Val, & Maks) have finished their initial contract and are likely negotiating from season to season or have shorter (perhaps year-long) contracts, and probably have more weight to throw around in terms of pay demands and special privileges; other pros still have a bit of time left on their initial contracts (if I had to guess, I think Sharna, Emma, Sasha, Lindsay, & perhaps Witney) and are probably going to be coming up on contract renegotiation time within the next season or two; the newbs (Alan & Jenna) still have a way to go on their initial contract and probably aren’t going to be renegotiating anytime soon.  So those are the differences in terms of length; we have noticed other differences in terms of privileges, though. Back when Julianne was still in her initial contract, she was offered a TV pilot, which TPTB nixed fairly quickly (I’m guessing it was on a rival network); however, Derek was offered a movie role (Make Your Move 3D) in the middle of his initial contract, and was allowed to take a season off to go film it (likely because the studio doing the movie wasn’t in direct competition with Disney, and Derek was the only 3-time MBT-holder and potential Emmy-winner at the time – so he had a bit more clout). Another interesting contractual “thing” we’ve noticed: Val, Mark, Emma, & Sasha have all been allowed to choreograph in the off-season for SYTYCD – but Derek was always prohibited from doing so. Our guess is that the higher-ups at DWTS probably saw him as a potential Emmy-generator, and didn’t want to run the risk of his choreography earning a potential Emmy nod for SYTYCD – so it may have been written into his contract that he was not permitted to choreograph for shows on rival networks. Since all of these negotiations happen behind closed doors and efforts are made to keep their terms confidential – we have no idea what could potentially be written into the pros contracts; but based on what we’ve seen, it’s a safe bet that not all contract are created equal.

Have the contracts changed at all over the years? Most likely yes.  I’m guessing all of the season 1 pros (Alec, Charlotte, Edyta, Louis, Jonathan, & Ashly) were probably only given contracts for that season, given that the network didn’t know if the show would catch on or not; once it was renewed for a second season, though, I’d guess that the pros that returned (everyone except Charlotte) were probably given longer, more exclusive contracts.  By the time Mark & Derek signed on in season 5, and it was clear the network had a hit with some longevity on its hands, the contracts probably got even more exclusive, as DWTS likely wanted to lock down their talent. I would guess at this point, the standard initial contract for new pros is probably pretty rigid & non-negotiable – so the newest pros, like Jenna & Alan, probably don’t have a ton of wiggle room until their initial contract expires.

If a pro’s contract is about to expire, does that mean they’re leaving the show??? Not necessarily. All an expiring contract really means is that a pro now has an opportunity to renegotiate their pay, the terms of their employment, the length of subsequent contracts, etc.  It’s a good thing, usually 🙂 And it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to jump ship. Just look at Derek – his initial contract expired several years ago (we’re guessing around season 15), and we still got 7 more seasons out of him before he finally hung up his dance shoes for good. I know some of you were worried about Sharna, whose contract I’m guessing is expiring after this coming season (season 27) – based on what we’ve seen of other pros whose initial contracts have expired, unless they haven’t used a pro in a few seasons (I think of Allison, who we haven’t seen since season 23; or Lacey’s last few seasons on DWTS, when she was pretty much on-the-bubble as a pro from season to season), I doubt they’re going to suddenly opt not to pick them back up during contract re-negotiations, unless a pro really starts making unreasonable demands or opts not to return on their own accord. And that’s something I think a lot of fans lose track of: eventually, the pros are likely to get offered new opportunities for growth in their careers, and are going to outgrow the capacity they have on DWTS…yes, if they’re your favorite, it’s sad to see them go, but if you’re a true fan, you understand that they can’t stick around forever and will eventually need to move on…which is often a good thing 🙂

Any other questions/thoughts about the contracts? Leave ’em below and we’ll try to answer them.

May 29, 2018 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Are You More Excited for the DWTS Season 13 Pros or DWTS Season 13 Stars?

As I read through the comments and DWTS tweets, I get the feeling that there’s a mixed reaction to the Dancing with the Stars Season 13 cast. Although, I’d say it’s about like every year where some hate certain stars and others love them.

One thing that has continued to grow is fans of DWTS’s love of the DWTS pros. In fact, I’m now regularly seeing people talk about being more excited for the DWTS Season 13 pros than they are for the DWTS season 13 stars. I decided to put it to a vote, and the early results are quite clear who DWTS fans like more (click which one you like better to see the results):

Side Note: I’m still hating that it seems Chelsie Hightower isn’t on this season of DWTS. I’m not sure Peta will make up for my loss of Chelsie and Edyta.

August 29, 2011 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.

Pure Dancing With The Stars – Derek Hough “Feet of Flames” on Cobu 3D

Things are really starting to heat up and I’m not just talking about the temperatures outside or Mak’s engagement pick on the Ukraine Bachelor. I’m speaking about Derek Hough and the set of Cobu 3D. For the last several weeks the cast and crew of this new edgy, street dance movie have been tweeting pictures from the set including Derek who, as most of you know, has the male lead. Not only that, yesterday, Derek took a little time to talk with E News about the new movie. Derek also gives us a little sneak peek into one of his dancing scenes. Let’s just say, this new movie and Derek has garnished the name “Feet of Flames” by one of his fans for a reason. I’ve never seen anything like it or comparable. Be sure to see this new fun interview and sneak peek into Cobu 3D at Pure Derek Hough >>>>>>HERE. While you are visiting the link, be sure to check out the other updates on Derek at Pure Derek Hough to see the latest set pics and more like the picture above. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of the hype that is about to surround this movie. Can I buy my ticket now?

June 3, 2011 I Written By

Hi, I'm a news hounds from way back. Since 1999, I've worked on Madonna and Enrique Iglesias fan sites....and now PureDWTS. I have always been a big music and dancing fan, but, I'm also passionate about photography, nature, animals, and spending as much time as possible travelling and camping with my hubby and our loving and patriotic doggie, Cash. To read more on me and view my photos (including some dancers from DWTS), see Lisa Kay Photography. You can also follow me at: Voguerista Twitter & Voguerista Soundcloud.

Dancing with the Stars 2011 Pro Possibilities

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready for Dancing with the Stars 2011 to start already. I always think that the Spring season of Dancing with the Stars starts earlier than it does. While we wait, I (and the rest of the Pure DWTS peeps) have put together info on who the DWTS 2011 professional dancers might be and other conjecture. Also, be sure to check out the previously posted Dancing with the Stars season 12 cast rumors.

Alec Mazo – Alec hasn’t said much on Twitter about it, but I think it’s safe to say he won’t be back. I’m sad about this since if they brought him back, then Edyta would probably come back. I think very few will care if Alec’s back or not though, which is probably why the producers haven’t brought him back every season.

Anna Demidova – Sadly her Twitter updates have gone private. How weird is that? I could understand maybe have a private second account for real friends and family, but I’d think she’d want as much exposure as possible. Even if she only updated it with professional things. I’d say she’s out.

Anna Trebunskaya – I haven’t seen anything either way. However, she’s had a STRONG showing these past couple seasons. So much so that even I fell in love with her despite a pretty bad start. I’d say she’s definitely back. The show needs a feisty little red head with an accent anyway.

Ashly DelGrosso (Costa)

Well, that pretty much says it all. Ashly would like to be on the show, but she doesn’t know yet if she’ll be on DWTS 2011 or not. I predict that she will. She deserves a season with someone who can actually move.

Chelsie Hightower – No news so far, but can anyone imagine her not being on the show. I guess the only possibility would be if there were no short male celebrities. Although, a taller man with a shorter women isn’t as bad as the other way around. I’m sure Chelsie will be back. She did mention that she has a new boyfriend.

Cheryl Burke

As you can see @DWTSGossip says she is back. They seem to know Cheryl pretty well. I’d say if Cheryl wants on the show she’ll be back. So, I say she’s back. Nothing on her Twitter account, except she’s definitely trying to pull together some publicity for her book tour. It’s funny to see her Twitter name dropping through the previous DWTS casts. I guess that happens when you’ve been on DWTS that many seasons.

Corky Ballas – No word, but I’d say he’s probably a no. Unless, DWTS somehow convinced Betty White to be on the show. Now wouldn’t that be something.

Damian Whitewood – Word is that Peta (who could be a pro on DWTS 2011 as well) and Damian are on their way to LA. Now why would they need to be in LA I wonder? If they aren’t regular pros, then I’m sure we’ll continue to see them doing some pro dances for the results show.

Derek Hough – I think most people know that Derek is filming a movie Cobu 3D and won’t be on DWTS season 12. He did say he’d be back for DWTS season 13 and be “more edgier” and “musclier.” I wonder where Princess Heidi’s votes will go with Derek out.

Dmitry Chaplin – I’m not sure about Dmitry. He mentioned that he’s done some choreography work for SYTYCD Ukraine during the break. I could see it going either way with Dmitry.

Edyta Sliwinska – Word is she won’t be back. She’s busy at school and other dance events. I’m guessing it will take another season or two for her and the producers to cool off. If I didn’t have this blog, I’d stop watching until the producers put her back on. The Edyta eye candy is definitely missing from the show for me.

Elena Grinenko – She seems to be doing Grinya’s Entertainment full time now including this really cool Celebrity Dance Camp which I wish I could have attended. So, I wouldn’t expect her back. We would welcome her to guest post about DWTS on here though.

Jonathan Roberts – Jonathan will definitely be back doing at least a result show dance with Anna. As far as the show, I have no idea. There’s really nothing to hate about Jonathan, but he doesn’t have the enormous fan following either. So, I think he could go either way. I would have LOVED to see the following which he described in a tweet:

Julianne Hough – Julianne is off to Hong Kong with Derek. The real question is if she’ll ever be back on DWTS. I think it would be quite the achievement if the producers get her back, but I’m not betting on it. Julianne did get some amazing seats at the Super Bowl. So not fair. I bet she barely even knew which teams were plaing.

Karina Smirnoff

Well, looks like Karina’s learning dance moves from the UFC fight. Interesting that she says for this season. I’m sure it was a bit of a slip since I don’t think the producers have told anyone yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a long term contract and so she knows more or less that she’ll be back. Either way, the show loves a little Karina. Her facial expressions are priceless.

Kym Johnson

Kym’s back in LA too. Seems like all the pros are heading to LA. Coincidence? Maybe not. Would be odd for her to be the showpiece on HSN for the DWTS hair line and then not be on this season.

Lacey Schwimmer

Of course, Lacey could be talking about a lot of work or even the work that day. However, usually you clear off the DVR before work like being on DWTS when you’re too busy to go and watch your DVR’d shows. Although, I think that Lacey’s still on the bubble like last season where she wasn’t on the show and then something happened (presumably the Edyta fall out) which got her back on the show. I expect more of the same for her this year, but we’ll see.

Louis van Amstel

Looks like Louis doesn’t know. Although, it seems odd that he’d know about some changes for the show, but not whether he’s on the show or not. Any guesses on the changes?

Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Maks is a hard one to peg. Will he be stuck in the Ukraine doing Bachelor? I’m guessing not. Bachelor UK isn’t as big as being a pro on DWTS I don’t think. @LizzieGrubman asked if Maks would be back on Twitter and then the next day said Maks is back. I’m not sure if she knows anything special, but I’d be very surprised if Maks isn’t back. Some have asked about Maks’ brother on the show. I’d say maybe, but probably not.

Mark Ballas – Will he be too busy touring for his album to be on DWTS 2011? I’d guess probably not. There’s little publicity for his album that’s better than him being on DWTS. So, I expect he’ll be back and don’t be surprised if he performs on the results show. I bet that’s part of his contract negotiation now.

Tony Dovolani

@DWTSGossip says he’s back on DWTS 2011. Looking at the lineup of male pros. I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be back on the show.

Good times. There are my thoughts, conjecture and run down of the various Dancing with the Stars pros. What do you think? Which pros will be back on Dancing with the Stars 2011 and which ones will be watching from home?

February 7, 2011 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.

My Top Female Dancing with the Stars Pros

I’m sitting here waitig for the tires to be done on my car. New Years Eve football is on in the background and I decided it would be fun to write up a list of my favorite DWTS pros. I’ll just do the female pros and leave the male pros up to one of the other Pure DWTS female bloggers. I’m also not going to list all of the pros since I don’t have a list in front of me.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of favorite female DWTS pros:
1. Julianne Hough – Julianne is one of the major reasons that I started to love DWTS. Julianne and Apolo were fantastic together. I also loved how Julianne wasn’t afraid to make comments back to the judges. Not hateful or disrespectful, just disagreeing and playful. I loved it and missed it this last season.
2. Edyta Śliwińska – I just adore Edyta’s dancing. She’s not the best teacher and not the best choreographer, but if I think back on my favorite moments on DWTS Edyta has a number of them. Her long legs don’t hurt either. I really hope she can win a mirror ball trophy.
3. Kym Johnson – Donny was definitely a ringer, but Kym had been given such crap partners before that I didn’t mind too much. Plus, she was so fantastic with less than perfect dancers like Jerry Springer that I was so glad she could finally win. I could be wrong, but I bet she’s just as nice in person as she is on TV. The accent is nice as well.
4. Chelsie Hightower – I have a feeling that Chelsie is going to move up this list over time. I can’t get some of her ‘boy’ moments (like burping) out of my head, but I still love watching her dance. She brings the most out of her partners and I think truly loves dancing.
5. Karina Smirnoff – Karina is such an amazing dancer. Some of her back bends are unbelievable. I prefer to watch her in the pro dances, but she is stunning to watch dance.
6. Lacey Schwimmer – She’s a bit of a jerk at times, but as far as dancing she is very creative. However, I’d love to see her choreograph on SYTYCD where there aren’t rules.
7. Cheryl Burke – She is likely the best choreographer on this list so I couldn’t leave her off. However, her dancing doesn’t do much for me. I’m not sure why. I’m sure she’s technically great, but just isn’t as nice to watch as the others to me.

Ok, that’s the list off the top of my head of top female DWTS pros. Is there someone I’ve left off? How would you rank them?

January 1, 2010 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.