Normani Kordei’s favorite Dancing With the Stars performance paid homage to a place dear to her heart — New Orleans. Although she enjoyed learning contemporary, the Fifth Harmony singer loved getting back to her jazz roots.
“The jazz routine [was my favorite] because of everything my family has been through, my mom’s breast cancer and Hurricane Katrina, and just celebrating life and the beauty of it,” Kordei, 20, exclusively told Us Weekly. “Plus, having my grandma there was so special to me because my grandma and I would watch the show together when I was growing up. She would make me dance costumes and she would sketch out little dance ideas on boards. So this was a dream come true for her to be in the building.”
On the Monday, May 15, episode, Kordei revealed that she was 9 years old when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. “I didn’t go back to New Orleans right away,” she told Us. “My family did, but they wanted to shield my memories and keep them of a happy place. They didn’t want me to see all the destruction. I saw everything on TV, but going back would have been different seeing it in person.”
The “Worth It” singer, who currently calls Texas home, was eager to share her past on the ABC series. “[New Orleans is] where all my best memories come from,” she explained. “I wanted to show that even through Hurricane Katrina, which was such a disaster, the city is still so full of happiness and life because the city is what the people in it make of it and it’s what we make it. My roots are still in NOLA, my family still lives there and every time I go back it feels like home. And I have to get some beignets!”
Kordei and her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, are still in the running for the Mirrorball trophy. They are up against Rashad Jennings, who is partnered with Emma Slater, and duo David Ross and Lindsay Arnold.
The Dancing With the Stars two-part season 24 finale begins Monday, May 22, at 8 p.m. ET. on ABC.
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