On Monday night (Sept. 20), Jimmie Allen made his ballroom dancing debut with his partner Emma Slater to kick off Season 30 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. The platinum-selling country star performed a Tango with Slater—Season 24 champion—set to Timberland feat. Keri Hilson’s hit single, “The Way I Are.”
The 36-year-old Delaware native has been in Music City since 2007, but years of grit and grind didn’t pay off until his 2018 single “Best Shot” broke through to No.1. After releasing his album Mercury Lane in 2018, the artist charted again in 2019 with “Make Me Want To.” In 2021 Allen became the first black solo artist to win the ACM New Male Artist of the Year.
The Platinum-selling artist’s September 20 television feature follows the August release of “Big In A Small Town.”
Hosted by supermodel and businesswoman Tyra Banks, the series returns to the ballroom with an all-new lineup of celebrities. Allen is appearing on the hit show alongside various stars including Bling Empire star Christine Chiu, Peleton instructor Cody Rigsby, former NBA player Iman Shumpert, actress/singer JoJo Siwa, Real Housewives of Atlanta‘s Kenya Moore, Cobra Kai‘s Martin Kove, The Bachelor’s Matt James, Spice Girls’ Melanie C., wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, and Olympic gymnast Suni Lee.
Allen stepped out onto the stage with Slater after months of preparation and rehearsal. In an Instagram post with James and Shumpert, he admitted to being “nervous as heck.” But his tango talent suggested otherwise. Leading a band is different than a traditional ballroom dance, but Allen’s position as bandleader translated in his stage confidence on set.
Allen’s pregnant wife, Alexis, cheered him on from the audience.
Carrie Ann Inaba—who’s been part of the judge’s panel since 2005—encouraged the performance as a great start for Allen, despite the Tango being particularly difficult.
Judge Derek Hough added to the praise, not just for Allen but of all the contestants of the evening. “That was an incredible week one frame, honestly,” he added. “The one thing I would just say is just keeping consistent because it was good and then every once in a while it would go woo, and it would drop down, but you have it. You know you can do it, you just got to be a little more consistent but great, great tango brother. Great job!”
Bruno Tonoli expanded on his fellow judge’s perspectives on the dance style. He shares, “It’s a very difficult dance because you have to think about it like a stalking cat, there has to be a consistency, an incredible control. There were some good moments, but it was very uneven. So work on it because you could be very good.”
Longtime judge Len Goodman was a bit more critical, commenting that his selected dance style “does not suit” his personality. Despite this critique, he noted Allen, a natural performer, has “great potential.” Goodman continues, “You’re a cool sort of guy, relaxed. I’m sure that there’s a lot more talent in there than we saw on that dance floor. You’re going to be loose, you’re going to go a long way.”
At the end of the evening, Allen’s total score tallied up to 22 out of 40.
The next episode of Dancing with the Stars airs Monday, September 27 at 8/7c on ABC. Watch Jimmie Allen’s first tango below.
Photo Courtesy of ABC/Eric McCandless