"We've got a mixture of celebration with innovation," Wade tells TVGuide.com. "Over the last two seasons in particular, the show's felt like it's had a reinvigoration. ... It felt like it's sort of entered a new era in many ways. I think I want to continue that feeling within the show, that energy. Having said that, it's a great opportunity to bring back some of the old favorites and to make the most and celebrate what's been a really great run."
One of the old favorites returning is five-time champ Derek Hough, who was a surprise addition to the Season 20 cast after claiming in January that he wouldn't be returning to the show. "He really wanted to come back," Wade says. "He was hoping to be part of the show and he really wanted to make it work. All parties wanted to make it work. It was a nice surprise for our 10th anniversary."
Hough will juggle Dancing with his other commitment, starring in the New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. He and his partner, Olympic champion gymnast and current NYU student Nastia Liukin, will rehearse in New York City during the week and then fly to Los Angeles forthe live shows. "I'm kind of interested in telling that story and seeing how they manage it, because the schedule is going to be tough for them," Wade says.
In addition to the weekly shows, there's also a standalone 10th anniversary special in the works that will air as its own event sometime in May, according to Wade. But what can viewers expect from the 20th season? Extra behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage, for one thing, and possibly the return of results shows.
Here are six teases for the new season of Dancing with the Stars:
1. The return of results shows: Since switching to a single-night format in Season 17, Dancing has crammed its performances and eliminations into one two-hour block on Mondays. That will continue for the majority of Season 20, but Wade says it's likely the Tuesday results show will be resurrected once the competition gets into the quarterfinals and semifinals, so that the audience can feel more of a sense of ownership over the results. "With the audience voting and the judges voting on the dance, and then seeing the result on the next night, I think you need the satisfaction of that influence," Wade says. "So I'm hoping that we'll get a couple results shows towards theend of the run."
2. No guest judges: In addition to permanent judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli, Season 19 featured a rotating cast of fourth judges (including Kevin Hart and one of this season's competitors, Redfoo) to fill in for Len Goodman, who was shuttling back and forth between the United States and England for Strictly Come Dancing. That won't be the case this time around, according to Wade. "We're not going to be doing guest judges this season, because we've got Len here the whole time," Wade assures. (Goodman has said that Season 20 will be his last.)
3. Live-streamed rehearsals: If two hours a week of Dancing isn't enough for you, this season, fans will get the opportunity to actually watch the pairs as they rehearse Tuesdays through Saturdays, via the show's "All Access" page. It's part of the show's continued efforts to expand its digital footprint (see also: live Twitter polls during the episodes). "It just means you can check in with your favorite couples throughout the week," Wade says. "We're hoping to do three or four hours a day, every day throughout the season." Check the weekly rehearsal schedule and stream here.
4. New theme nights: While Season 20 will see the return of many longstanding theme nights (Disney Night, Latin Night, America's Choice), some new ones will also be thrown into the mix. "I think we want to do a Spring Break week," Wade teases. "This is a spring season. This is really a countdown to the summer for people. I think subconsciously, viewers kind of realize that when we get to the final it'll be a couple of days from Memorial Day and we'll be back into summer." Get your bathing suits ready!
5. More involvement from the judges: It's Dancing with the Stars tradition for the judges to mentor the finalists, and Wade wants to take that a step further this season. Might we see the judges actually participating in some ofthe routines? "I wouldn't rule anything out," Wade says. "I'd love to try to involve them as much as we can in the storytelling of the show."
6. Play at home! This season, Dancing will strive to educate viewers as well as entertain them. "This is, after all, a game," Wade posits. "If you like, you can play at home." To that end, producers and the judges will place more of an emphasis on what's expected from a routine from a technical standpoint. "Actually informing people as to what the dances are and what they should look like and what the judges are looking for - all of those things are really important and we're trying to push those in," Wade explains.
Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday at 8/7c on ABC.
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