When dance pro Jenna Johnson was growing up, watching MTV was her guilty pleasure. So of course, she'd seen Nev Schulman as the host of Catfish, but meeting him in person when they were paired up on season 29 of Dancing With the Stars was something entirely different. "He is a full on character in the best way," Johnson tells Woman's Day. "The person that you see on Catfish is, I think, the most contained and professional Nev that there is because when he walks into the rehearsal room he is just a burst of energy, of light, of creativity."
Schulman's big personality and positive energy push Johnson to be on that level, too. "I feel like I have to meet him at 100 percent every day," she says, adding that Schulman is great at understanding her mood and reacting to it. "I definitely have my moments of stress and meltdown and anxiety, but he's really good at observing any room, any situation, people in general, so I think he can always sense when I'm having those moments of stress or anxiety, and he's good about cracking a joke, or saying something that's gonna make me laugh."
The couple's partnership, which earned them the season's first perfect score and landed them in the semi-finals, has also encouraged Johnson to expand on her choreography and push the boundaries more in her routines. "I think performance is really big for him because he has been such a fan of the arts and he's been to many performances so he knows as an audience member what he would want out of a performance," she says of working with Schulman. "For me this season has been really about pushing the boundaries with my choreography and taking more risks. I think in the past I've been so nervous about doing something different or doing something that maybe hasn't been done before because you don't know what to expect or what the reaction will be. But I think especially with Nev because he is capable, I've been trying to push myself more, and it's been so rewarding."
In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the states, Johnson was on the DWTS tour, and in a day everything changed. "We were doing two-hour shows six nights a week," she says. "I had purpose, I was being fulfilled as a performer as an artist, so when we got sent home within a day and everything shut down I lost my purpose, which was really hard." So when the show started up again in September, she finally felt like she was getting her groove back. Johnson says there's a different level of gratitude being back in the ballroom with Schulman. " It's kinda surreal," she says. "This year has been crazy, so obviously I was just so ecstatic to be working again, to have a schedule, and now to make it this far and we're so close to the finale, I don't want it to end. It's been such an enjoyable season with Nev that I could do it over and over again."
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