Dozens of publications, including this one, have reported it: JoJo Siwa is making history! The 18-year-old has paired with professional dancer Jenna Johnson to be first same-sex couple to compete on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.
I was ready to let this piece of history go by with a feeble “woo!” JoJo Siwa is a child star, an ex-tween sensation, an alum—or perhaps, survivor—of the reality TV show Dance Moms. Given those credentials, I wish her a lifetime of healing and happiness. She seems great, and I’m awed by the grace with which she has taken on sharing her queerness with her gigantic fanbase.
But as a millennial, my emotional calendar is booked out years in advance for the sake of processing the transition to adulthood from my own generation’s child stars: Britney! Demi! Christy Carlson! I don’t know this blonde tween who has sold, according to the New York Times, over 80 million hair bows. And I have never watched an episode of Dancing With The Stars.
So tell me why I have watched every one of JoJo Siwa’s Dancing With The Stars performances upwards of five times. Tell me why I am dumbfounded in the face of this teenager wearing a wig, dancing a Paso Doble to a song from the Disney Chanel Original Movie Descendants 2. Siwa and Johnson have a beguiling shared energy, like they’ve both had their muscles replaced with something slicker and silkier. Siwa makes use of her crazed dance competition skills—she grins through each number like Abby Lee Miller is judging her—and marries them to something more authentic and joyful.
Newly minted Siwa supporters—we are not alone. Siwa and Johnson have performed five routines during this season of Dancing and have the highest overall score of any couple. Their numbers have gone viral again and again. Watch them and tell me you won’t be back in a few days, heart in your throat and unrecognizable to yourself, to watch Siwa and Johnson dance the “Grease week” challenge.
Week one: They danced a quickstep to “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
Here it is: their big debut. Do you get the song choice? They’re both girls! Siwa is honoring her roots here with a gigantic bow on her shoulder, shimmer in her crimped hair, and a neon outfit. She looks so happy. I don’t know what a quickstep is, but their feet are moving very fast and they got the highest score of the evening for this performance.
Week two: They danced a cha-cha to “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande
Legends supporting legends. The gals are showing us a “real good time” here. The literal fireworks and tiny spangled outfits are great, but the dancers don’t really need them—their skill is so high and their chemistry is so good.
Week three: They danced an Argentine tango to “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears
It’s the little leg-slide-between-the-other-person’s-legs for me.
Week four, part one: They danced a Viennese waltz to “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella
Ah yes, the gateway drug video that seduced me into the world of Siwanators (as fans are known). Siwa’s looks like she’s watching as her bride walks down the aisle—so full of pride and wonder to find herself just for a moment in a fairytale love story. The little low bun! The shoulder pads! “A girl being a prince isn’t ‘weird’ isn’t ‘gross’ but it’s amazing, wonderful, and magical,” she captioned an Instagram post about the performance. Yes! Yes it is magical!
Week four, part two: They danced a Paso Doble to “Ways to be Wicked” from Descendants 2
Apparently this performance is a fan service that references the shipping of characters played by Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson in the Disney Channel Descendants movies. Even to the elderly (me, a person born in the early ’90s) there is something especially captivating about this performance. There have been criticisms that Siwa and Johnson’s routines have been too mild and platonic, whereas straight couples on the show have more sexually overt choreography. That’s worth keeping an eye on, but it’s also important to remember that Siwa is 18. This number feels charged and totally age appropriate—two women sizing each other up and exploring an intense connection.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.