It’s time to switch things up on Dancing with the Stars.
The stars will be swapping pros on Monday’s episode, which in the past has been among the most popular (and most controversial) weeks of competition. Some fans question whether it’s fair to rip away contestants from their pros – particularly struggling stars who may finally be getting a groove going with a particular partner. (Check out the full rundown of who’s partnered with whom here.)
Paula Deen has struggle to improve during the season, and her pro Louis Van Amstel is considered among the best when it comes to working with older contestants. So it’s a gamble for her to hit the floor with Mark Ballas.
In an exclusive clip for the episode, Deen, 68, tells Ballas, 29, that she’s “scared” of him because she doesn’t know if he has the “patience” to make it through Switch-Up Week with her.
On the flip side, Bindi Irwin has dominated the competition this season, and that may partially be thanks to her strong working relationship with pro Derek Hough, who is in tune with how emotional some of the competition can be for her. He went as far as covering her ears during last week’s emotional package showing her tearful tribute to her late father, Steve Irwin.
Will Val Chmerkovskiy have the same magic touch?
“Bindi has been saying that this is like starting over at week one,” Alexa PenaVega tells PEOPLE. “You don’t get two more different dancers than Derek and Val so she was just like, ‘what?!’ ”
Speaking of Chmerkovskiy, his regular star Tamar Braxton has struggled to dance with a man who isn’t her husband, but she finally had a breakthrough last week, in part because she dedicated her dance to husband Vincent Herber and son Logan. Having her start over from scratch with (Louis Van Amstel) could be a challenge.
Alexa says that switching from Ballas to Hough has been pretty smooth.
“Their styles are very different as to how they teach,” she writes in her exclusive PEOPLE blog. “But I feel like we could not have asked for a better switch up. It has been such an easy transition.”
“It’s a refreshing week where you get to try something new and at first, because Witney and Lindsay are best friends, I thought they’d be really similar, but they are extremely different and it’s been awesome,” Carlos writes in his PEOPLE blog. “Lindsay is awesome. She’s so motivating and positive all the time.”
Another fan favorite who may face a challenging Monday is Alek Skarlatos. The Paris train hero injured his nose during rehearsals, so will have to compete through the pain. Past seasons have shown the stress of Switch-Up Week can be be even more pressure-filled for the pros, who may feel guilty for not being able to mold their new stars into champs.
In season 18, pro Witney Carson was paired with Drew Carey for Switch-Up Week. During the season, his regular pro Cheryl Burke had struggled to get the comedian to shine. Carson came in and got spectacular results out of him.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to repeat those results the following season. Carson spent season 19’s Switch-Up Week with Emma Slater‘s race car driver partner Michael Waltrip. Their disco performance earned disappointing 5s across the board, and Carson felt so bad that she ended up crying in the bathroom – and later needed to be comforted by Alfonso Ribeiro.
There’s also the risk of causing friction among teammates if two people really click during Switch-Up week. In season 18, Hough hit it off with NeNe Leakes, and her regular pro Tony Dovolani was none-too-happy the following week.
Hough sparked more jealousy the next season (this time it was played up for the cameras as a joke) when he partnered with Sadie Robertson. He visited the Robertson ranch, and attempted to make Roberton’s partner Ballas jealous by posting about how much fun he was having.
Who do you think will do best with their new partners, and who is at risk of crashing and burning? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.