‘DWTS’: Koko Iwasaki Reflects On Her First Season As A Pro

Koko Iwasaki and Vinny Guadagnino from Instagram, Dancing With The Stars

Koine “Koko” Iwasaki has been heavily immersed in the world of dance she could walk. But this year is different — now she’s a professional dancer on the set of Dancing With The Stars. For her freshman year on the team, she’s partnering with Jersey Shore star Vinny Guadagnino. They’re determined to improve each week and hopefully take home the Mirrorball Trophy.

Koko recently sat down with Good Morning America to talk about her very first season. What has the experience been like so far?

Koko Iwasaki was delighted to receive the invite

In an interview with GMA, Koko admitted she burst into tears when the casting department at DWTS called and invited her to be a pro dancer.

“There’s so many different waves of emotions that hit me and I was so excited, so grateful, so terrified and just overwhelmed,” the dancer admitted. She said it was a dream come true.

Koko Iwasaki and Vinny Guadagnino from Instagram, Dancing With The Stars
Koko Iwasaki & Vinny Guadagnino/Instagram

“I felt ready. It’s been, I feel like, a long time coming for me as far as what I’ve wanted to do with my goals and dreams and stuff,” Koko continued. “It was really full circle for me in so many different ways.”

The Japanese dancer has been studying dancer since she was a toddler — but she hadn’t studied ballroom until she was about 18 years old. Val Chmerkovskiy introduced her to the genre when he was choreographing on the set of So You Think You Can Dance. Koko competed and finished in second place back in 2017.

“I remember Val kind of took me in and did a little twirl for the first time, and I just remember thinking, ‘What just happened to me? This is the best thing of my life,'” she remembered fondly. “Then I seriously couldn’t stop.”

Dancing With The Stars from Instagram
Koko Iwasaki/Instagram

The rest was history. Koko toured with the Dancing With The Stars cast this winter. Most fans weren’t at all surprised to learn that she was joining the Season 31 cast as a full-time pro.

The pair gear up for a double performance week

Koko and Vinny are preparing to perform their routine for “Most Memorable Year” night tonight and “Prom Night” tomorrow. Tonight, they will perform a Jazz routine to “Levels” by Avicii. Tomorrow, they will dance the Viennese Waltz to “You and Me” by Lifehouse.

In the GMA interview, Koko admitted that teaching Vinny has been challenging, but she is enjoying herself.

“It wasn’t so much about the steps, but it was all about the mental connections I can make from his regular life and what he does already to now dancing. It’s kind of like finding a language between us,” the SYTYCD alum said. “But it really pays off so much when you see your star be happy after they perform. There’s literally nothing like it.”

Catch Koko and Vinny in action tonight at 8 PM eastern time on Disney+. You won’t want to miss out on their amazing routine!

Nikole Behrens
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