DWTS tribute to Len Goodman
Christopher Willard/Disney via Getty Images

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Carrie Ann Inaba Discuss DWTS’ Tribute to Len Goodman

October 24 was an emotional night on Dancing with the Stars. Not only did each dancer highlight their “Most Memorable Year,” but the show also paid a very special and well-deserved DWTS tribute to Len Goodman, a long-time judge who passed away in April.

In honor of Len, a troupe of current and former DWTS pros performed an elegant waltz to the wistful strains of “Moon River.” Preceded by personal remembrances from members of the cast, the love and loss were palpable. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Carrie Ann Inaba comforted a sobbing Bruno Tonioli.

Some of the dancers and judges shared how it felt to be a part of such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute. ET has the full story.

DWTS tribute to Len Goodman: Remembering an icon

“It was a lot of emotion to get the call,” said former DWTS pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy. “There [were] such positive feelings towards the entire thing. At least for me, I enjoyed every second.”

Maks admitted to shedding a few tears, but he wasn’t alone. “It was an emotional moment,” he said. “If you’re not tearing up at that point, this is the wrong ballroom.”

Dancer Jenna Johnson, who choreographed the gorgeous routine alongside her husband Val Chmerkovskiy, spoke about the challenges of creating the dance. They had to find a way to set aside their emotions and just get to work. While incorporating many current DWTS pros, several former pros also returned to participate.

“This was like our love letter to [Len],” she added. “I have to thank all of the dancers for making it come to life because it was just really more than I ever could have imagined.”

Judges hit hard

DWTS tribute to Len Goodman had Bruno in tears
Christopher Willard/Disney via Getty Images

Judge Carrie Ann sat next to Len at the judging table for 17 years, since the show’s first season. “Len is so much a part of my experience,” she shared. “He always sat to my left, and I really miss him.”

“The dancers did a beautiful job,” she said. “They sort of brought him to life through that dance … I think he would have been so proud.”

And though she thought the whole tribute was “very, very emotional,” the overwhelming emotion that both she and Bruno felt actually surprised her. “We were trying to be professional and hold it together,” she explained. “But sometimes you just can’t … Dance is very emotional. I couldn’t hold it back anymore.”

She and Bruno ended the tribute sobbing in each other’s arms, which is what you do when a loved one is lost. I think a few fans at home were sobbing with them, myself included.

In honor of the beloved judge, the show renamed the winner’s trophy the Len Goodman Memorial Mirrorball Trophy.

Dancing With the Stars airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC and Disney+.