With less than one week until “Bachelorette” Hannah Brown and Fifth Harmony songstress Ally Brooke take the ballroom floor for their highly-anticipated “Dancing With The Stars” debut, we caught up with the stars’ rumoured dance partners for an exclusive update on rehearsals, the possibility of romance and how the close-knit team is doing following casting shake-ups.
While producers have switched things up for season 28 — waiting until next Monday’s premiere to reveal the celebrity/dancer pairings — Brown is reported to be with Alan Bersten and Brooke with Brandon Armstrong.
While the hunky young pros couldn’t confirm or deny the rumours, they teased some qualities about their partners while attending Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s 6th Annual Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation celebrity poker event at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on Saturday.
“My partner is extremely hard working,” Bersten, 25, dished. “I’m very impressed. She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen — maybe more than any other celebrity.”
“She just puts in the work,” continued Bersten, who has previously been paired with singer Debbie Gibson and model Alexis Ren. “You assume everyone does, but this person is really in it and it makes me very happy because that’s all we care about in a partner. Someone who wants to be there.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong, who has previously been paired with singer Tinashe, teased that he was facing challenges he had never come across during the new season’s rehearsals.
“It’s a very unique set of challenges this year,” he said. “So, I think it’s an amazing opportunity for me to grow [and] get better.”
Asked about one quality his partner had that could help the pair take home the Mirrorball Trophy, Armstrong immediately responded, “Experience!”
(If Brooke does turn out to be his partner, this is likely a nod to her extensive dancing experience with girl group Fifth Harmony.)
As for the idea that “DWTS” producers like to pair up people who might find romance together, Bersten and Armstrong seem to be single and ready to mingle! Plus it helps that Brown and Brooke are both believed to be single.
“You know, I think I can see that,” Armstrong said about whether a potential for romance might have impacted his celebrity pairing. “In my situation, I can see that!”
“I am single — hopefully not for long!” he continued. “So, anybody in this room or reading this interview, I am single. Go ahead and slide into the DMs!”
Bersten confirmed that he isn’t currently dating anyone either. “But my mom reads my DMs. Do not slide into them,” he laughed.
Regardless of whether romantic sparks fly, Bersten and Armstrong are simply thrilled to be back in action on the ABC series, recalling how excited they were the first time they met their new partners.
“You could have put me with my own grandma and I would’ve been stoked when she walked in the door,” Armstrong said.
“It doesn’t matter who I have, I’m excited no matter what,” Bersten reiterated. “It’s just such a blessing to be a part of the show. And, this season is going to be so special. I feel like they went all out for it. It’s been off for a year and the fans missed the show and we missed doing it, so it’s coming back stronger than ever. And the celebrities are great — there’s a celebrity for everyone, so the audience can all connect to someone.”
While both Bersten and Armstrong believe season 28 will be the biggest yet in the long-running series, they have felt the absence of long-time pros, Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev. The “DWTS” world was shocked when news broke that producers were not bringing the fan favourites back for the new season. They are both now going to be working on rival dance series, “So You Think You Can Dance”.
“It’s so hard because we’re a big family,” Bersten said. “I gave them a day or two then I texted them, ‘It’s devastating.’ But I think [dance pro] Val said it very well — how they are not defined by their careers on “Dancing With the Stars”. They are incredible dancers who aren’t going to have any problems doing other stuff. We miss them, but they’re going to be able to shine just as bright.”
“I just wish people would take a second and think about how hard and how many hours and years of their lives they have put into the show,” Armstrong added. “What you guys will see on Monday night takes hours and hours and years of development, so that’s where our hearts go out to Artem and Sharna because it’s taken so long to get to the point where they are at. But they’re going to do it again with their next adventure. They’re hard workers so everything will work out.”
With the shockwaves having calmed, the boys are now pumped for Monday’s premiere. And, if Bersten is paired with Brown, it won’t be his first foray into Bachelor Nation. He recently teamed up with Joe Amabile, aka Grocery Store Joe (from season 14 of “The Bachelorette” and season five of “Bachelor In Paradise”) to launch their Frown Clothing line, with part of the proceeds going to Smile Train, a charity which helps children in more than 85 countries “get a smile” via free cleft surgery.
Bersten was proudly rocking one of the brand’s shirts while giving back to another cause, cancer research, at Saturday’s poker tournament, which was also attended by Tito Ortiz, Dave and Odette Annable, Mekhi Phifer, Casper Smart, Billy Burke, Erin Cummings and Christina Milian, who was serving up dessert treats from her new Beignet Box business venture. The annual event raised more than $250,000 for the Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s Cancer Free Generation division, which supports young cancer researchers and their innovative research.
It’s a cause close to Bersten’s heart given his own health scare in 2018. “I had a benign tumour in my parathyroid a year ago,” said Bersten, who was outlasted by Armstrong in the tournament but stuck around to cheer him on. “I had a stomachache which sounds minor, but it was like I couldn’t walk. It was the scariest thing in the world not knowing whether it was benign or not. Honestly, I broke down and cried — it was so devastating just knowing it could be cancer. I’m very thankful that it was benign, and my heart goes out to everyone who’s affected by cancer.”
Bersten admitted that as a young, fit and active male he shrugged off the importance of regularly visiting a doctor prior to the scare. “I’m 25 and I’ve very active, so you don’t expect anything,” he said. “Men in particular think, ‘I feel good. I don’t need to go get check-ups,’ but everyone needs to go — regularly — because your body might not be even giving you symptoms that something’s wrong.”