Whenever someone with known dancing abilities is cast on Dancing with the Stars, some controversy ensues. Actors with dance training and Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters have received scrutiny before, but perhaps the most contentious contestant ever will be Heather Morris on Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars. Morris looks like she is set to join the ranks of Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Grey, Meryl Davis, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Laurie Hernandez as a person who has previous dance training and could totally win it all. Yet, what separates her from them — and her fellow competitors this season, Olympians Simone Biles and Nancy Kerrigan — is that Morris has worked as a professional dancer. Let the outrage commence!
Morris is best known for playing cheerleader Brittany S. Pierce on Glee, but unlike her costar Amber Riley (who won her own DWTS Mirrorball in Season 17), Morris has always been known as a dancer who can sing — not a singer who can dance. While you could argue that Morris being on Dancing with the Stars is unfair (and trust me, plenty of people have done that), the show is more about entertainment than who will win for me. And if Morris' dancing career is any indication, she's going to be entertaining as hell.
Still, if you are upset by her casting, the actress, singer, and dancer has actually commented on the controversy she is causing. She told Entertainment Tonight that she doesn't think she has any advantage and that the competition is fair.
Oh really, Morris? While I'm not mad at the casting since I know she will be great to watch each week, I must call her out on that statement because her dancing proves she has way more than a slight edge. Although I know firsthand as a dancer that just because you can do hip-hop and jazz doesn't mean you can dance ballroom, Morris has years of picking up choreography that will make her training go much smoother than, say, Nick Viall's training. (No offense, Nick!) Biles absolutely has an advantage too, but Morris is on a whole other level — even if that level isn't at the height of some of Biles' gymnastics moves.
If you don't believe me or just need a refresher of Morris' dancing career — including the fact that she was a backup dancer for Beyoncé! — check out Morris dancing professionally below. It will help you understand what the uproar about her Dancing with the Stars casting is all about and make you excited to see what she'll do with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy during the DWTS premiere on March 20.
Auditioning For 'So You Think You Can Dance'
While she wasn't a professional at the time, Morris auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance in 2006. Amusingly enough, the above clip shows her trying to master ballroom during Vegas Week, where she ended up being cut and not making it to the live shows. Morris told Fitness magazine that being cut was disappointing, "But even then I could sense that it wasn't right for me." However, there's no need to feel bad for Morris since she then moved onto pretty much the greatest gig ever.
Dancing With Beyoncé
Morris became a backup dancer for Beyoncé after her failed So You Think You Can Dance audition. Although the quality of the above video isn't great, you can see that she was prominently featured in the front next to Bey during this concert performance of "Get Me Bodied."
Getting Down On 'Swingtown'
Along with doing backup for Queen Bey, Morris kept busy taking backup dancing parts on TV shows. Although she isn't very notable in this clip from the failed CBS series Swingtown, look out for her in a red dress. That is, if you aren't too distracted by Once Upon a Time's Lana Parrilla, House of Card's Molly Parker, and Pirates of the Caribbean's Jack Davenport.
Being Fired Up On 'Eli Stone'
Another show that she danced on in 2008 was the musical, legal comedy-drama Eli Stone with Jonny Lee Miller and Victor Garber. Watching this clip makes me wish this show lasted more than two seasons.
Channeling 'Cats' In 'Bedtime Stories'
She also did some backup dancing in movies in 2008, like this tiny appearance in the Adam Sandler movie Bedtime Stories. Although it's hard to see, Morris is the one dressed up like she is from Cats. Brittany's cat on Glee — Lord Tubbington — would be proud!
Putting A Ring On It With Beyoncé
During these smaller gigs, Morris continued to be a backup dancer for Beyoncé. Yet, it's one thing to be a backup dancer and quite another to be featured as one of the three dancers in the "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" trio. She performed the dance alongside Bey in a series of appearances in 2008, including Saturday Night Live, TODAY, and the American Music Awards (above).
Going To 'Glee'
As Esquire wrote, Morris was brought in to teach the cast members of Glee the choreography to "Single Ladies" and then landed the part of cheerleader Brittany. So, she did the unthinkable and left Beyoncé. But, hey, she got a starring role on a TV series and still got to do Beyoncé's choreography to "Single Ladies" in the fourth episode of the show. She also channeled her old boss by singing and dancing to "Run the World (Girls)" in Season 3.
Being Britney On 'Glee'
Beyond Beyoncé, Morris was also inspired by Britney Spears on Glee. The Season 2 episode, "Britney/Brittany," really put Morris in the spotlight as she recreated some of Spears' most iconic songs — and put her own spin on the dances, showing just how fierce of a dancer she is.
Although she hasn't been dancing as much in recent years on TV (she did have two kids), that doesn't mean her talent is gone. In case you thought Morris wouldn't still be a badass dancer, this video of her dancing to "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars during a dance class in October 2016 proves otherwise. You can spot her in the back right corner.
So, does Morris have an unfair advantage going into Dancing with the Stars? Uh, absolutely. But based on her talent, I expect the judges will be holding her to quite a high standard and it's going to make for some spectacular TV.