Sasha Farber Reveals Sentimental Meaning Behind Tonya Harding’s ‘DWTS’ Premiere Dress

TONYA HARDING, SASHA FARBER
TONYA HARDING and SASHA FARBER Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Dancing With the Stars pro Sasha Farber is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about his quest to take home the season 26 mirrorball trophy with partner Tonya Harding. Check back each week for his latest update on the competition.

Our first dance was so special. This is the first time Tonya has performed in front of people in over 27 years! She had something taken away from her when she was banned from performing for life [by the U.S. Figure Skating Association] and she didn’t really get a chance to fulfill her dream. So to see her go from her first fitting to walking into the ballroom and everyone seeing her dance was just amazing. She got teary-eyed in the dressing room because she’d never had dresses made for her before. I’m super proud of her.

TONYA HARDING, SASHA FARBER
TONYA HARDING and SASHA FARBER Kelsey McNeal/ABC

When I first learned I was being partnered with Tonya, I was so excited for this challenge because there are so many haters out there. There are so many people who have their own personal opinions about Tonya. It’s my job to show the real side of her – a side they’ve never seen before, where she has suffered for something that happened.

People deserve second chances and last night, she got that second chance. She was like a little girl. Her eyes were beaming. The energy coming out of her is contagious. She’s one of those people who gets along with absolutely everyone. It was a night she’ll never forget and I hope it’s only the beginning. Next week is going to be a night where we push more and more and show another side of her.

We have a shortened season this year and there’s not the same amount of time for our audience to really get to know the celebrities. I think the movie [I, Tonya] coming out last year gives people an insight into what happened. We chose the color for her dress last night because it’s the same color she wore when she landed her triple axel. There’s no time to do anything other than charge full-steam ahead. I do think that there’s a lot of pressure on her – more than any other contestant may have. She was super-nervous last night, and I was trying to calm her down.

It’s horrible that two couples – my wife Emma and Johnny Damon, and Jamie Anderson and Artem Chigvintsev – went home last night on the first night of the competition. Emma and I have both been in jeopardy before. Ironically, we were standing in the same positions in the season that Snooki and I were sent home and Emma and Bill Engvall stayed. It’s horrible to see a loved one go home. Emma did an amazing job. She’s an amazing teacher. I thought for sure Johnny Damon would be a fan favorite. Emma knows how to bring out people’s personalities. It was really hard to see her go. I didn’t know what to do. I was really sad for her. I love her very much.

Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Monday at 8 p.m. ET.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!