Len Goodman earned lots of boos Monday – but he says he was right to judge harshly

By Lynette Rice
April 07, 2015 01:20 AM
Adam Taylor/ABC

If you think Len Goodman‘s comments had a particularly harsh “get off my lawn” quality to them on Monday’s Dancing with the Stars, it’s because something’s been eating at the show’s elder statesman.

Years of watching old-school dances like the waltz get watered down by young and hip pros have taken a toll on the judge, who’s about to turn 71 later this month.

“The show is becoming performance-driven. It’s all about the performance,” Goodman told PEOPLE exclusively after the show. “For me, that’s not what ballroom dancing is about. The waltz, next to the Viennese waltz, is the oldest dance of all. There is a tradition. When you think of the waltz, you think of elegance, sophistication, fluidity of movement. Sometimes I look at a dance and I have to check what dance it is, because it doesn’t look like what I think it should be.”

Goodman was particularly critical of the dynamic and very contemporary waltz performed by Rumer Willis and Val Chermkovskiy on Monday, but he growled through many of the performances.

“I’m an old traditionalist,” he admitted after the show. “I’m the old, fuddy ballroom dancer who is 71, nearly. I think it’s necessary to have someone like that. Age is precious. I don’t want it all to become a So You Think You Can Dance type of show. I want to see elements of what I recognize in a samba or a waltz.”

The audience frequently responded to Goodman’s critiques with a chorus of boos – but he didn’t mind the negative feedback.

“It makes me chuckle,” he told PEOPLE. “If I was sitting in the audience and someone else was me, I would be booing along with them. It’s all a part of the fun.”

“Two things I try to be … I try to be myself and I try to be honest,” he added. “The bottom line is it’s got to be entertaining. I also try to enlighten the viewers as to what I want to see, and I try to educate the couples on where I want to see improvement. I got it right tonight, whether people booed or not.”

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