How do celebrities get on dancing with the stars

45 Rules 'Dancing With the Stars' Contestants Have to Follow

There's something extremely entertaining about seeing Wayne Brady do the cha-cha and Teresa Giudice dressed in sequins — and that's exactly why Dancing With the Stars has remained a fan favorite show for 31 seasons. But what goes on behind-the-scenes as the stars compete for the Mirrorball Trophy? From the grueling rehearsals to the makeup guidelines that often get pushback, we're breaking down all of the rules the Dancing With the Stars competitors have to follow.

Stars have to get an offer from the casting director.

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In Hollywood, DWTS is often seen as a great career move and celebrities clamor to get cast on it, but it's the producers's jobs to seek out only the most interesting celebs for the show. "For your marketing, for your career, this is like Willy Wonka's golden ticket," former DWTS executive talent producer Deena Katz told Slate.

They don't have to be a trending celebrity.

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Sometimes the cast of DWTS reads like a crazy dinner party from a dream. That's because producers purposefully includes a mix of celebrities from across the entire pop culture zeitgeist, choosing nostalgia picks, people in the news, and even people who "the idea of them dancing makes you laugh," Katz told Slate.

Being a fan could help a star get cast.

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Why? Producers specifically look for celebs who are fans of the show, because this increases the odds that the star will sign on and helps ensure a good attitude during the process.

Stars can't tell anyone they've been cast.

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Sorry, but the show doesn't want any spoilers before their big reveal! During the first few rehearsals, the celebrities on season 31 wore face shields to protect their identity from paparazzi as they made their way into the studio.

They aren't locked into the show after the cast reveal, though.

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With all the fanfare that goes into announcing the DWTS cast, one would think that the contestants would be locked into an iron-clad deal by the big reveal. Nope. There are always loop holes in show business that keep stars from actually filming.

Stars can (but shouldn't!) drop out at the last minute.

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"Vincent Pastore was the guy from The Sopranos and was rehearsing with Edyta Sliwinska but had heart issues, so that's when John Ratzenberger joined. And Mark McGrath dropped out and Rocco DiSpirito came in," Katz told Glamour.

Some stars are cast as backups.

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In the event that a celebrity contestant doesn't show up, there is usually a backup person to take their place. When producers were afraid Master P wasn't going to show, they had Kill Bill star David Carradine rehearsed and ready to go in a trailer on set, just in case.

There's no disclosed age limit.

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Dancing with the Stars has never disclosed an age limit and the youngest contestant to ever compete was 14-year-old Willow Shields. ABC also produced a spin-off show, Dancing With the Stars: Juniors, for child stars and children of celebrities.

Stars are matched with their pro dancer strategically.

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Ever wonder how the DWTS pairings come to be? Former showrunner Rob Wade told E! News it's a simple formula, "based on height, build and personality and compatibility."

Producers try to make sure partners like each other too.

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After all, the stress and rigor of live ballroom dancing is enough to serve up plenty of drama for the cameras. "We don't pair people who aren't going to get on. It's too intense. It's not like The Bachelor or something, we couldn't do that," Wade told E! News. "You don't want to see two people who don't like each other."

Cast romances are encouraged.

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Romances between contestants are a big topic of debate on DWTS and producers love them, because they help generate buzz for the show. While a host of legitimate relationships have come out of the reality show, most of the flings fade with the spotlight.

Stars don't get to choose their dancing partner.

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"There are some celebs that have wishes, and we always say we can't guarantee," Katz told Glamour. In the end though, the producers have the final say.

Dancers don't get to choose their star either.

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Although fans think they've spotted trends in partners — why are Mark Ballas's partners always young? — the professional dancers have no input on who they compete with.

Same-sex partners are allowed.

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In 2021, JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson made history as the very first same-sex duo on DWTS. "I think it breaks a wall that's never been broken down before," JoJo told press during the Television Critics Association summer tour. "I think it's really special that, not only now do I get to share with the world that you're going to love who you want to love, but also you can dance with who you want to dance with."

Producers choose the music for the dances.

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According to dancer Kym Johnson, the pros are allowed to suggest songs at the beginning of the season, but since there are so many pairs to coordinate performances with, producers take the lead on deciding who will dance to what.

Contestants can't choose their theme either.

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Whether it's cha-cha night or all about Disney, the teams don't pick the themes and they vary from season to season.

Everyone on the cast gets paid.

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Both the dancers and stars are compensated for appearing on the show. According to reports in 2019, celebrities earned a $125,000 signing bonus and could earn up to $295,000 in total.

Stars can compete for bonus payments.

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How, exactly, do celebs make more than their $125,000 signing bonus? Their paycheck increases the more they advance on the show, with finalists reportedly earning up to $50,000 for the final two episodes. This creates an incentive to keep stars committed to the competition.

Pro dancers don't get paid as much as the stars.

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It's been reported that the professional dancers make close to $5,200 per episode, which adds up to about $100,000 per season.

Teams have to practice seven days a week.

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DWTS has a reputation for having a demanding rehearsal schedule and, as former Olympian Amy Purdy told The L.A. Times, there are "no days off." Celebrities meet and rehearse with their partner every day to prepare for the Monday night live show.

Stars have to use the show's hair and makeup teams.

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The show receives a lot of pushback on this rule. "Women have had this fear about [wanting] to have their own hair and makeup artists, but you can't have that here. Our team is award-winning and fantastic. Kirstie Alley had a really hard time with it and really fought it. Now Kirstie uses our makeup artist for her. I get that fear, but they just have to take a leap with all of it. We promise they're going to look great," Katz told Glamour.

The same rule applies to wardrobe.

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The wardrobe team is award-winning and is specially versed in ballroom dancing costumes. Because of this, the show insists that all wardrobe decisions are made by their team.

Being flexible with wardrobe is a must.

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Former dancing pro Tony Dovolani says that costumes usually aren't finished until an hour before the show. "People don't get to wear their costumes until dress rehearsal," he told Glamour. "There are alterations being made from dress rehearsal until the live show."

Contestants have to get spray tans every week.

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The show's rumored "Spray Tan Sundays" are all too real — or, at least they were. The show's former head makeup artist, Zena Shteysel, revealed to People in 2013 that each contestant was bronzed from head to toe once a week in preparation for taping. Who knows if that's still true today!

Teams have to arrive early on the morning of the live show.

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Every pair must arrive at 7:45 a.m. ahead of the run through with the live band.

Pairs don't hear the band's arrangement until the day they perform.

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On show days, couples are finally able to practice along to the live version of the song. "Sometimes the band's arrangement will be a little different from the track," former executive producer Joe Sungkur revealed to Insider. "So it's very useful for the couples, because they might give notes to the musical director."

The dress rehearsal is mandatory.

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This is when producers and the show's director make sure the show is mapped out the way they want.

Know your angles.

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Another important part of dress rehearsal includes camera blocking. With 18 cameras operating at once, dancers need to practice their movements (as well as understand the camera movements) so that every step is captured on-screen.

Producers can change anything in a performance.

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During the dress rehearsal, producers and the director have control over the performance and are allowed to tweak any aspect of it — from wardrobe to lighting.

Stars are expected to contribute to the choreography.

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While the pro dancers take the lead, celebrities aren't just along for the ride. Both team members are expected to contribute — which often ends up being a great source of drama on the show.

For the group number, stars don't get a say.

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The group opening number that fans have come to love is choreographed by an on-staff head choreographer. Contestants don't have any say in the creative direction for this dance, but are required to participate each week.

Teams have to give an interview after every performance.

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As soon as the pair steps off of the dance floor, they're thrown in front of the camera for an interview. While it may be a welcome distraction for some of the stars, as they wait for their scores to be determined, it's also necessary for the show to get their reactions to their performance.

Producers have control over the storylines.

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However, Wade insists they only follow emerging storylines that develop from the contestants. To do this, producers keep a close eye on what’s going on with each team and build on any potential drama.

Dancers must be willing to be vulnerable on camera.

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The show's producers told Glamour that the cast opening up to viewers is one of the key parts of the show. "You have to open yourself up to the process. Seeing Maks [Chmerkovskiy] at his most vulnerable with Meryl [Davis] made people want to see his journey," Sungkur said.

And the stars can't be camera shy either.

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Both the judges and viewers loved watching Olympic gymnast Suni Lee break out of her shell in season 30. "Having Sasha, we’re complete opposites, he’s crazy outgoing and fun and all that and I’m super shy. I'm getting there," she told Access Hollywood at the time.

Contestants can't compete if they get injured.

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DWTS has survived 31 seasons, but not without a few injuries. Sometimes contestants are cleared to dance, but if an injury is deemed too serious, they're forced to drop out of the competition.

Stars can be replaced.

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Sometimes, the show must go on — with another star. In the case of Christie Brinkley, who broke her wrist and needed surgery, the model subbed in her daughter, Sailor Cook-Brinkley.

Contestants can't wear logos on television.

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Due to licensing rights, no logos, brand names, or sports teams can be featured on any clothes on the show. But Master P got to break this rule. "I was at a couple of [meetings] when Master P threatened to leave," Sungkur told Glamour. "He wanted to wear this jacket with a logo on it and threatened to leave because of it, and I was like, 'OK, you can wear the jacket!'"

There's a strict no lift rule.

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DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba has made it clear that she supports the ban, "which was to keep the playing field level for the older and less physically strong contestants so that all the dances didn't just become show dances with lifts and tricks," she wrote in an essay for FEMESTELLA in 2013.

The teams aren't just scored by the judges.

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In 2019, DWTS debuted a new voting system, where live votes from the audience determines a bottom two and then the judges have the final say on who stays and who goes. This choice was QUITE controversial.

Scores must be verified before being announced.

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After judges write their scores down, the papers are taken to the control room. "Standards and practices from ABC then verifies that everything is fair and checks those scores, and we then go to the judges to reveal their scoring and we double-check that the score they hold up reflects the score they wrote down," Sungkur told Insider.

Contestants have to be patient during live eliminations.

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In 2020, host Tyra Banks infamously told the wrong couple they were in the bottom two, later saying it happened because of a mix-up in the control room. It's live television, after all, so the cast has to be prepared for anything!

Contestants have to promote the show.

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There is a ton of press attention that goes with appearing on DWTS. From revealing the team pairings to weekly elimination updates, the cast has to agree to doing the morning talk show circuit.

The winners take home more than just bragging rights.

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In addition to their salary and, of course, the title of DWTS champion, the winning team receives the Mirrorball Trophy, which they can take home and display wherever they like.

For some, the competition doesn't end at the finale.

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ABC puts on a live tour after the season wraps. The tour means that some contestants, whether they were Mirrorball Trophy winners or not, get more time on the dance floor.

Janaya Wecker Lifestyle Editor Janaya is a Lifestyle Editor for Hearst Magazines.

How Famous Do 'Dancing With The Stars' Contestants Have To Be?

Dancing With The Stars has been with us a long time. The show, which premiered in 2005, completed its 30th season in November last year. And despite a drop in viewership, loyal fans are eagerly awaiting news on the next season.

The recipe, set by the original BBC production called Strictly Come Dancing, sees a mix of celebrities across the spectrum teaming up with professional dancers to compete for the coveted mirror ball trophy. It's stayed popular for more than 16 years, while other shows, including a spinoff of DWTS, have flopped.

RELATED: This 'Dancing With The Stars' Spin-Off Was A Complete Fail

That makes it one of the longest-running unscripted shows across all broadcast network television. Today the franchise exists in 30 different countries.

How Are The Contestants Selected?

The buy-in from the public is what keeps a show like Dancing With The Stars going. Fans tune in to watch famous names pair up with professional dance partners, and then vote for their favorites to progress in the competition. A total of 351 celebrity contestants have participated in the show over the years. While it might seem simple to put together a list of celebrities to take part, it's not an easy task at all.

The contestants are chosen from a variety of fields including TV, music, movies and sport. Co-executive producer, Deena Katz, who oversees the casting process, has explained that she looks at putting together a DWTS cast of diverse talent that will appeal to a mass audience.

It's a move that’s led to much disgruntlement from fans, as not all the names or faces are instantly recognizable. And as those fans vote for contestants, they believe they have a say in the selection.

Fans Have Been Unhappy With Some Selections

Although a horseback rider or a swimmer may be known in their specific field, their fame may fall outside some viewer’s interests. With each eagerly anticipated reveal of the season's celebrity contestants, social media has been abuzz with complaints and questions about what makes someone a star.

The release of the list of inclusions for Season 30 once again led to widespread dismay, with many fans saying they don't even like Dancing With The Stars anymore. Although the group included singers, reality TV stars, an NBA player, a WWE wrestler, and an Olympic gold medalist, some names and faces were unrecognizable to fans, who made their displeasure known via social media. One post read "I thought this was Dancing with the Stars… Where are the Stars???"

RELATED: ‘Dancing With The Stars’: Twitter Is Livid After The Double Elimination Results

One of the selling points for many of the celebrities on DWTS Season 30 was their huge social media presence. Jojo Siwa, who finished second on the show has 9.1 Million Instagram followers. The Miz is next in line with 3.9M and Iman Shumpert and Kenya Moore both have 2.1 Million followers. The combined following means a huge buy-in from fans.

There Have Been Some Controversial Contestants

There are times when fame is not applauded. When pro boxer Floyd Mayweather was included in the Season 5 line-up, fans hit the roof. Despite his huge fan base, the sportsman's history of domestic abuse led viewers to question the appropriateness of his inclusion on the show.

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One of the most controversial decisions in the show's history came in summer 2019, when former White House press secretary, Sean Spicer was announced as part of the season 28 cast. The inclusion of the political strategist, who had worked under former president Donald Trump, caused an uproar which continued throughout the competition. Adding fuel to the fire, he was constantly saved by fan votes despite his obvious lack of dance skills.

The most recent controversy raged about the unpopular Season 30 choice of Olivia Jade Giannulli.

RELATED: Here's How Olivia Jade Picked Herself Up After The College Admissions Scandal

Although she's an influencer, she's best known for being implicated in the college admissions scandal. Her parents Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli spent time in prison after they were found guilty of paying bribes to ensure her admission into the University of Southern California.

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Some Celebs Have Declined The Invitation

There are many celebs who haven't been interested in participating in the show at all. Caitlin Jenner, Demi Moore, Mark Zuckerberg and Lindsay Lohan are some of the big-name celebrities who have said no to Dancing With The Stars. While some stars decline because of schedule constraints, others are reluctant to put themselves on the line and risk opening themselves to ridicule.

Not all celebrities can cope with being criticized for their performances. A memorable moment came in the 2010 season when Michael Bolton demanded an apology from judge Bruno Tonioli after comments he made about the singer’s performance in the jive.

Perhaps Bolton had a point: As Olivia Jade admitted during season 30, dancing is harder than it looks. Especially for people who've never danced before.

RELATED: A Look Inside The Grueling 'Dancing With The Stars' Work Week

It’s Not About Casting Celebs Who Are Great Dancers

While DWTS has included some good dancers in the celebrity spots, that’s not really the point. For the audience to become involved, there needs to be a thread where they can watch their favorite celebrities improving, and sometimes even struggling during the rehearsal process.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who took part in the 2009 season was cast specifically because he didn’t have the best moves.

Evander Holyfield and David Hasselhof were popular with audiences, but didn’t make the grade as dancers.

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Kim Kardashian, one of the richest celebrities and biggest names to have participated in DWTS, didn’t make it past the 3rd round of Season because the judges felt she didn't reflect the spirit of the dance.

Athletes Are At The Top Of The 'DWTS' List

While they may not always be as instantly recognizable as singers, actors, and YouTube stars, athletes do pretty well on the show, which has become something of a career highlight for the sporting stars. All in all, eleven athletes have taken first prize over the years.

Even Olympic athletes have competed on DWTS. In 2007, short-track speed skating competitor and eight-time medalist Apolo Ohno became the first Olympian to participate. And it would seem his competitive edge was a bonus: he took home the mirror ball trophy alongside pro partner Julianne Hough.

The last season to air was also won by an athlete: NBA shooting guard Iman Shumpert took the honors along with professional dancer Daniella Karagach.

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There's no guarantee that the fans will ever approve completely of the contestants chosen to perform on Dancing With The Stars. That said, even though there's a good chance they'll grumble about some selections, they eagerly await the announcement of Season 31 and the participants.

NEXT: Every Time People Were Mad At Tyra Banks On 'Dancing With The Stars'

Best Dancing TV and Movie Stars: Stories and Videos

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Show business stars, film and theater actors, singers and TV presenters have performed dance at least once in their careers. Some learned it from childhood, while others had to master complex movements for the sake of a memorable moment in a video, movie or TV show.
We tell cool stories and show the best dances performed by the stars of show business.

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Patrick's mother was a ballerina and choreographer, so from early childhood

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The first person to notice Janet's talent was her father. He is not

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Famous fashion model and actress Marilyn Monroe was not a professional dancer,

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It is difficult to call Justin Bieber an outstanding dancer, but the efforts of the producers, teenage

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#Stars are dancing #About dancing

Yana Arshavina, together with her mother Yulia Baranovskaya, repeatedly took part in

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#The stars are dancing

Billie Eilish is one of the record holders of the Grammy Award, since

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#Stars are dancing #Dancers

The famous singer has repeatedly surprised the audience with bright choreographic performances and

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#The stars are dancing

Britney Spears is known as a vocalist, actress and dancer. Choreographic education

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Top 10 Dancing Stars | Music

Many stars not only sing great, but also dance cool. We have compiled the top 10 celebrities who know what real dancing is. Choose the best dancer among the singers. Some names you have known for a long time, others you learned only a few months ago. They all deserve to be on our list.

Ready to party with the stars? Then let's go!

The Weeknd

Canadian singer The Weeknd lights up in the video I Feel It Coming to a beat from Daft Punk . And if on the verse he is still holding back, then on the chorus the guy can no longer be stopped! That's how he gets high from his song.

And in the video for the song Starboy The Weeknd is dancing with a red neon cross!

Charlie Puth

Another star dancer - Charlie Puth . In his video How Long he dances from the very beginning of the video to the very end. See for yourself!

Camila Cabello

Former Fifth Harmony frontwoman Camila Cabello showed Cuban passion in her music video Havana. It's really hot!

Dua Lipa

Fancy dancing Dua Lipa and her team are in the clip IDGAF .

And something very similar in the sensational video for the hit New Rules .

Danish singer dances in all her videos, she loves it! In the latest video for the track Get It Right, she was accompanied by the famous producer Diplo . Check out their joint dance!

Well, the most famous dances featured in the mega-popular video Lean on . It was truly unforgettable.

Justin Timberlake

Another virtuoso dancer - Justin Timberlake ! It is not easy to count all the videos of the artist in which he dances. This year Justin returns with a new album and has already released a new video. In the video for the track Filthy , the singer played the role of a dancing robot. What do you think?

Bruno Mars

Naturally, Bruno Mars also got its place in our top ten. His incendiary dances will not leave anyone indifferent! The singer recently released a remix of his own song Finesse with Cardi B .

It is impossible not to remember one of his main hits of recent years - Uptown Funk . You probably know the dance from this video by heart! Special thanks to Mark Ronson for the cool beat.

Lady Gaga

The Queen of the Monsters Lady Gaga is on fire in all her videos. For each clip, the singer comes up with a new dance! One of her latest works, Perfect Illusion , was no exception.


Clips MONATIK'a never do without incendiary dances.

Learn more