Eclectic cast of “Dancing With the Stars” season 29 include Nelly and Carole Baskin

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Admittedly, 2020 has been full of the best and worst surprises. Ok, well, mostly the worst. Which is why when the likes of rapper Nelly and big cat advocate Carole Baskin end up on “Dancing With the Stars,” it is enough to make non-DWTS fans tune in to the new season.

Most of the world has suffered from a sort of collective boredom due to quarantine, a lack of entertainment outlets, and for some, a kind of generalized anxiety that makes distraction welcome. Enter “Dancing With the Stars.”

The announcement that Nelly and Baskin would be on the show sounded like a joke, or an error. But, as it turns out, the announcement was real. What might have raised the stakes even more, would have been if Nelly and Baskin were dancing together. Thankfully, the show pairs a celebrity with a professional dancer. As a result, the subsequent choreographer is often pretty good, and far less train wreck-like than some viewers might have expected.

Nelly salsa dances to his own song

The “Country Grammar” rapper and professional dancer, Daniella Karagach, turned up the heat in red outfits as they performed salsa to Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me.” Certainly, more than one viewer was hoping they’d bust a ballroom move to “Hot in Herre.” The two roared onto the stage on a motorcycle. And, after a brief musical interlude, jumped right into their routine.

While Nelly was ultimately judged (harshly?) for being too non-Latin dance-like, and retaining the body language of urban dancing, the rapper who is in his 40’s, surprised everyone by inserting a perfect backflip into the routine. The move proved that the rapper had gained back his notable musculature. Nelly Mo fans no doubt hope that his surprising move will be enough to keep the rapper on the show for weeks to come.

Carole Baskin dances a Paso to “Eye of the Tiger”

In a move that seemed too cheesy to avoid, “Tiger King” antagonist Baskin danced with professional dancer Pasha Pashkov to “Eye of the Tiger.” Baskin’s attire has gotten as much attention as her moves–both she and Pashkov wore tiger print. Baskin accessorized her stripes with a trademark floral wreath on her head. What she might not have had in dance style, Baskin had in whimsy, and perhaps the ability to laugh at herself.

“Dancing With the Stars” did not air on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020 because of “Monday Night Football.” However, the cast will return on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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