‘The Real Dirty Dancing’: recap, performances and everything we know about the dancing competition

The Real Dirty Dancing
(Image credit: Fox)

Ready for the time of your life, because The Real Dirty Dancing celebrity competition debuting Feb. 1 on Fox is certainly going to try. Using the classic 1980s movie Dirty Dancing starring Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze, The Real Dirty Dancing will see eight celebrities compete to be the new Baby and Johnny in a four week competition.

Taking inspiration from the Australian series of the same name, Fox’s The Real Dirty Dancing will be a special event series that looks to recapture the magic of Dirty Dancing. That includes filming at Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia where the original movie was made as well as having the celebrity contestants pair up and try to recreate the iconic dance scenes from the movie, which of course will involve the lift that remains the movie’s most indelible image.

In case you need a refresher:

Here is everything we know about The Real Dirty Dancing

'The Real Dirty Dancing' recaps

Episode 1: After the octet of celebrity contestants arrive at the Mountain Lake Lodge and introduce themselves and their connections to Dirty Dancing (some deep ones like Cat Cora and some apparently not so familiar like Tyler Cameron), they immediately are thrown into things as they are tasked with carrying a watermelon to the staff quarters and then asked to show everyone their dance moves. After this opening dance session, host Stephen "tWitch" Boss revealed the opening pairings: Tyler Cameron and Loni Love, Corbin Bleu and Cat Cora, Antonio Gates and Brie Bella, and Howie Dorough and Anjela Johnson-Reyes.

Following some rehearsals, votes revealed who were the best Johnny and Baby of the week, with Tyler Cameron and Cat Cora taking those honors.

Judge for yourself if that was the right call by watching clips of some of the celebrity performances from episode 1 below:

And here are some additional clips from the episode, including Tyler Cameron talking about why he is dedicating his performances on the show to his mom and the ladies are choosing to support one another even as they compete.

The next episode of The Real Dirty Dancing airs on Feb. 8.

‘The Real Dirty Dancing’ release date

The Real Dirty Dancing is scheduled to premiere on Fox Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following The Resident. Running for four weeks, the additional episodes of The Real Dirty Dancing will then air on Feb. 8, Feb. 15 and Feb. 22 at the same time.

The Real Dirty Dancing will be part of Fox’s alternative programming to the Beijing Winter Olympics that are set to air on NBC, including in primetime, from Feb. 3-20. The other major networks, ABC and CBS, are countering with the Jeopardy! National College Championship tournament and Celebrity Big Brother.

One other interesting note with The Real Dirty Dancing’s release date, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox had previously been reserved for the new country music drama Monarch starring Susan Sarandon, however the show was postponed until the fall because of COVID-related production delays.

It is unclear if/when Fox's The Real Dirty Dancing will be made available for U.K. viewers, but fear not, as Channel 4 is producing its own version of The Real Dirty Dancing expected to come out in 2022.

‘The Real Dirty Dancing’ cast

Eight celebrities are set to compete in The Real Dirty Dancing, with the hope of proving that they have what it takes to be compared to the iconic duo of Baby and Johnny. Here’s who will be competing:

Brie Bella, WWE Hall of Fame inductee
A former WWE Divas champion, Brie Bella was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2020. In addition to her wrestling career, she is also a New York Times best-selling author, with her twin sister Nikki Bella, for Incomparable and serves as a motivational speaker.

Corbin Bleu, actor
Best known for his role as Chad Danforth in High School Musical, Corbin Bleu is an actor whose other credits include the TV movies Love, For Real and A Christmas Dance Reunion, as well as roles in Broadway shows Kiss Me Kate, Godspell, In the Heights and Holiday Inn.

Tyler Cameron, TV personality
First breaking out after being the runner-up on The Bachelorette season 15, Tyler Cameron used his contractor skills as the host of the TV series Barkitecture, where he helps to build luxury dog homes for the pets of celebrities that is a Roku Channel original series.

Cat Cora, chef
Cat Cora is a world-renowned chef that was not only the first female Iron Chef winner, but was also the first female inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.

Howie Dorough, pop singer
Howie Dorough is not a stranger to some choreography, as he was a member of the popular ‘90s boy band Backstreet Boys. Dorough is a multiple-award-winning and Grammy-nominated performer.

Antonio Gates, former NFL player
A likely future hall of famer, Antonio Gates played 16 seasons in the NFL as a tight end, all with the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles Chargers). He is an eight-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All-Pro.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, comedian
An internet sensation, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes is best known for her “Nail Salon” videos from YouTube, which have been viewed more than 100 million times. She was also a cast member on the sketch comedy show MADtv.

Loni Love, comedian
Loni Love is an Emmy-winning host of The Real as well as appeared on talk shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Daily Pop and Entertainment Tonight. She has also been seen in movies, including Mother’s Day, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 and Soul Plane.

‘The Real Dirty Dancing’ hosts

The Real Dirty Dancing will be hosted by Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the freestyle hip hop dancer and choreographer that has appeared in projects including Magic Mike XXL, the Step Up franchise, Hairspray and more, as well as serving as both a contestant and then judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

In addition to Stephen Boss, The Real Dirty Dancing will feature guest judges to help whittle down the contestants, including one of the stars from the original Dirty Dancing movie. On Feb. 8, Jane Brucker, who played Lisa Houseman (the older sister to Jennifer Grey’s Baby), will serve as a guest judge — and according to Entertainment Weekly, break out her character’s iconic Hula Hana dance.

EW also reported that Allison Hoker Boss, a former So You Think You Can Dance contestant and wife to Stephen Boss, will then serve as a guest judge on the Feb. 15 episode.

‘The Real Dirty Dancing’ trailer

Fox has previewed The Real Dirty Dancing with a 30 second promo, which you watch below. It certainly looks like all involved are having a great time as they honor the classic movie. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.