Who is it, who is it, who is it underneath the mask? (Photo: Discovery / Design: Tina Till)
Who is it, who is it, who is it underneath the mask? (Photo: Discovery / Design: Tina Till)

Pop CultureApril 3, 2022

Meet Dancing with the Stars’ celebrity contestants for 2022

Who is it, who is it, who is it underneath the mask? (Photo: Discovery / Design: Tina Till)
Who is it, who is it, who is it underneath the mask? (Photo: Discovery / Design: Tina Till)

After a three year absence, Dancing with the Stars NZ is back. In a bold move of her own, Tara Ward power ranks the brave celebrities ready to sashay onto our screens. 

It’s been three long, cold years without Dancing with the Stars NZ. Some might blame Covid-19 for the absence, but I think you’ll find the fault rests at the feet of my esteemed colleague Sam Brooks, who foolishly tempted fate in his last DWTS NZ recap of 2019:

Luckily you can’t keep a good dancer down, and with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, DWTS NZ season nine begins later this month. Today, Three announced the names of the nine courageous celebrities who will compete in the DWTS NZ ballroom of dreams. They’re about to grapevine into our hearts and wallets, raising money for their favourite charities and reminding us that dance is a leveller like no other.

The galaxy of stars is revealed (Photo: Discovery / Design: Tina Tiller)

In honour of DWTS NZ’s return, we dedicated several minutes to evaluating the dance potential of these famous people. We studied their photos and analysed their PR blurbs, we put ourselves in their shoes and did the splits until it hurt. The results are in. Frankly, I’d trust this power ranking as far as my spirit fingers could throw it, but that’s dance for you. Always keeps us guessing. Always with the spirit fingers.

Let’s prepare to dance like the nation’s watching. It’s showtime.

9) Alex Vaz

Vaz and Britanny (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Brittany Coleman

Whomst: Reality TV star Vaz hits the trifecta with DWTS NZ, having previously appeared on Heartbreak Island and The Bachelorette NZ.

Prediction: Vaz proved unlucky in love in his earlier reality shows, so will DWTS NZ be where his romantic dreams finally come true? Will Vaz fall in love with…fancy footwork? Alas, someone has to be  first to leave, and it is better to have danced and lost than never danced at all.

8) Rhys Mathewson

Rhys and Phoebe (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Phoebe Robb

Whomst: Award-winning comedian and Seven Sharp reporter

Prediction: If the world was fair, Rhys would win this entire dancefest based on the happy citrus energy of this photo alone. Sadly, Rhys has worked for DWTS’s bitter enemy Seven Sharp, and in this cutthroat world of sequins and spray tans, this can only lead to disaster. I wish things were different.

7) Kerre Woodham

Kerre and Jared (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Jared Neame

Whomst: Newstalk ZB broadcaster, journalist, author and columnist.

Prediction: Kerre knows how to dance around dodgy talkback opinions, and she’ll attract a shedload of votes from the loyal Newstalk ZB and Women’s Weekly crowd. Maybe Mike Hosking will join her for the annual DWTS trio dance. Dreams are free, friends.

6) Jazz Thornton

Jazz and Brad (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Brad Coleman

Whomst: Jazz is an activist, best-selling author and award-winning film maker who was named Young New Zealander of the Year in 2021. She also co-founded her own suicide prevention agency Voices for Hope, an organisation commended by Queen Elizabeth.

Prediction: It’s just a quickstep and a hip-hop from Young New Zealander of the Year to Young New Zealand Dancer of the Year, right? Putting a telegram through the Queen now, can confirm she’s given us the thumbs up. Or Jazz hands, if you will.

5) David Letele

David and Kristie (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Kristie Williams

Whomst: Retired professional boxer, motivational speaker and community worker

Prediction: This is an excellent position. Who wants to be ranked first? Too much pressure. Who wants to be ranked last? Too little pressure. The middle of the pack is perfect, especially for a retired boxer. Fly under the radar, then sting like a bee. It worked for Shane Cameron in 2015, so get ready to be stung, New Zealand.

4) Brodie Kane 

Brodie and Enrique (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Enrique Johns

Whomst: Broadcaster, radio presenter, podcaster and producer.

Prediction: Brodie is destined to be our next big dance star, mostly because Brodie Kane rhymes with Candy Lane. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

3) Eric Murray

Eric and Loryn (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Loryn Reynolds

Whomst: Olympic medalist, good rower, appeared on Celebrity Treasure Island.

Prediction: Whether it’s winning gold or brushing your teeth with charcoal, Eric takes competition seriously. He’s also partnered with Loryn Reynolds, who won last season of DWTS NZ. Loryn is the Hamish Bond to Eric Murray’s Eric Murray, so prepare for a podium finish.

2) Sonia Gray

Sonia: so good she doesn’t need a partner (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Aaron Gilmore

Whomst: Actor, writer, New Zealand’s longest serving Lotto presenter.

Prediction: I can’t forget Sonia’s terrifying performance as an enraged French hairdresser in Netflix’s The Royal Treatment, and now I’m too scared to rank her any lower. Also, I can feel in my waters that Sonia was born to dance the Viennese Waltz, and with the guidance of two-time winner Aaron Gilmore and the luck of the Lotto balls, how can this go wrong?

1) Eli Matthewson

Eli and Jonny (Photo: Discovery)

Professional dancer: Jonny Williams

Whomst: Award-winning comedian, podcaster, TV presenter, co-host of The Edge Breakfast.

Prediction: Climb aboard the Eli train, it’s going all the way to Dancetown. Not only is Eli part of the first all-male DWTS NZ couple, but he’s also the only contestant wearing this absolutely cha-cha-charming shirt, and everyone knows fuschia is the colour of champions. Ground-breaking, break-dancing, we love to see it.

Dancing with the Stars NZ begins in April on Three and will be hosted by Sharyn Casey and Clinton Randell. Three say the judging panel will be announced in the next few weeks.

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