It’s time to dust off those dancing shoes! Dancing with the Stars has officially returned for its 25th season with some new tricks up its sleeve, including a married couples dance-off (Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd vs. Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy), the return of two beloved dance pros who haven’t competed in a few seasons (Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas) and the launch of an all-new DWTS Fantasy League (finally, a Fantasy League I can rally behind!).
Everybody was dancin’ in the street to usher in the silver season, and it was good to have everyone back (well everyone except for judge Julianne Hough it seems). Due to the number of contestants needing to dance on premiere night, host Tom Bergeron revealed they were going to try to limit the judges’ comments to just one judge per contestant (though the other two judges still managed to get in snarky comments from time to time while holding up their scoring paddles).
Let’s see how your favorites did on this first week of competition:
Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke, Cha Cha
It’s good to see Cheryl Burke back in the ballroom. I always find myself pleasantly surprised by the pro football players, and Terrell did not disappoint with his season opener Cha Cha set to The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. I doubt it will be among the most memorable dances of the evening, but it wasn’t a bad effort. Len told him he got the party started and it was an entertaining, energy-filled routine, but he needs to watch his footwork and “dance to his height” by straightening his legs. Carrie Ann and Bruno also echoed Len’s concerns about the footwork needing improvement. I love that their names rhyme!
Debbie Gibson and Alan Bersten, Foxtrot
Yay! Alan is finally competing as a pro after years of being in the dance troupe and he landed ’80s sensation Debbie Gibson as his partner?! Naturally, Debbie debuted with one of her own tunes – “Lost in Your Eyes” for her first-week Foxtrot. I hadn’t realized Debbie suffered from Lyme disease, but kudos to her for having the stamina to complete a first-rate performance. Bruno called it dreamy and great partnering with wonderful chemistry that he looks forward to exploring further in the Latin nights. However, he cautioned her to watch her arms and about arching her back more to give her the lovely frame required in ballroom dancing. Carrie Ann told her to utilize her partner more, while Len wasn’t impressed by the lack of body contact.
Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko, Cha Cha
“Pretty Little Liar” Sasha Pieterse revealed that she’s in this competition to get in better shape for her wedding next year. I feel ya, girl! She shook her Cha Cha for all she was worth to “Like That” by Fleur East. It’ll be interesting to see what Gleb has in store for her this season, as I’ve come to admire his choreography more and more. Carrie Ann admired Sasha’s fierceness and the way she moved her body while bringing the technique. Although she noted that she was out of step at the beginning, Carrie Ann told her she’s on the right track to succeed in this competition.
Drew Scott and Emma Slater, Foxtrot
My money was already on The Property Brothers’ Drew Scott this season, but he upped his cuteness factor even more by dancing his Foxtrot to Madness’ “Our House”. Swoon. Len called him a “fixer-upper,” saying he needs to fix his footwork and finesse. It’s true he wasn’t as naturally graceful as I was expecting him to be, but he’s adorable in a totally awkward, endearing way. I look forward to watching him improve and to seeing his twin brother Jonathan good-naturedly rib him more each week. Carrie Ann enjoyed his musicality, while Bruno called him a “Demolition Man” that can only get better from there.
Barbara Corcoran and Keo Motsepe, Salsa
What else would mighty Shark Tank mogul Barbara Corcoran come out to besides Ludacris’ “Money Maker”? It seemed like a logical choice to me. Barbara looked as gorgeous as ever, although she seemed to be a tad bit out of her comfort zone. She looked like someone who wanted to cut loose more but couldn’t because she was counting the steps too closely. Bruno said it was a feeding frenzy, but told her she needed to push her hips and watch her feet placement more. He noted the intention was good, but the execution was lacking. No, it wasn’t polished, but a 4 from Len? Ouch. Thank goodness she’s a strong, independent woman who will bounce back from the criticism.
Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold, Tango
I have no idea who this kid is (I’ve never seen Broadway’s Hamilton), but there was clearly nothing holdin’ him back! He and Lindsay had an amazing chemistry, and I’d love to see them go far in this competition. He’s earned a top spot in my heart. Carrie Ann couldn’t contain her excitement – she was making all sorts of awkward noises while she composed herself – but she loved their body contact and how Jordan mastered control of both the dance and his partner. It was an excellent effort for a week one dance!
Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd, Cha Cha
Since sibling Drew is a past Mirror Ball Trophy winner and a fan favorite on DWTS, the expectations for Nick Lachey are extremely high. Set to Pharrell’s “Come Get It Bae”, Nick and Peta’s opening Cha Cha met the hype and proved why the Vegas odds are on him to win this season. Len liked that he came out and went for it – all or nothing – though it could have been a little slicker. I was a little surprised by those lackluster scores, though I will fully admit that it didn’t blow me away like the previous pairing!
Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Cha Cha
Maks always comes across so strict and cranky, but he pushes because he cares so passionately about the integrity of the dance. I think he’s met his match in Vanessa Lachey this season. What was up with that strange choreography involving fake babies strapped on the strapping male dance pros? I’m not sure how I felt about that … it was a little unsettling. Bruno called Vanessa “a yummy mommy with a sexy carriage.” He liked that it was a proper Cha Cha with wonderful posture and variation, but told her she needs to maintain it better. For the record, Vanessa outshone her husband this week.
Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson, Foxtrot
How adorable is Frankie Muniz? Seriously, does he ever age? I had a hard time believing he’s much older than his dance partner Witney because he still has that youthful exuberance about him. What a powerful song choice with Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” – Malcolm has grown up into a bona fide leading man! Carrie Ann said it was a beautiful, endearing performance that was honest and vulnerable and just the kind the DWTS audience falls in love with – I’d concur! Bravo, Frankie, bravo.
Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev, Tango
Thanks to an ex who was way too into wrestling, I personally find Nikki Bella annoying (always have, probably always will). You could tell she struggled to let her partner Artem lead during the Tango set to “So What!” by P!nk. Len liked the body contact, but told Nikki to stop looking down because it made her look uncomfortable and not as confident as he would’ve liked to see. Much as it pains me to admit it, I think she has the potential to improve.
Derek Fisher and Sharna Burgess, Salsa
What else would Derek Fisher come out to besides “Basketball” by Kurtis Blow? Color me impressed though – the way he handled that basketball while dancing was mesmerizing. He moved like a natural dancer and had a charisma about him that can’t be taught. I’d vote for him! Bruno admired that it was tailor-made to his style and was impressed by him taking center stage and commanding it week one. However, he thought it lacked the round hips necessary to a Salsa overall. Similarly, Len liked the performance but said the technique was lacking. I think that he’s proven that he’s one to watch this season.
Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy, Cha Cha
I’ve never heard of Victoria Arlen before, but wow, what an incredible story! She was paralyzed for a decade and still has no feeling in her legs, but you’d never be able to tell, as she looked like she was “Born Ready” to Cha Cha! It never ceases to amaze me what the human body is capable of with the right attitude. I may or may not have teared up when she did after her performance. Carrie Ann was blown away and unusually reserved in her critique. She praised the crisp, clean leg action, saying Victoria’s body will eventually catch up to her spirit. I predict great things ahead.
Lindsay Stirling and Mark Ballas, Cha Cha
It’s so refreshing to know that Mark Ballas is back in the ballroom after that hiatus! Again, this is another “star” I’ve never heard of – Lindsay Stirling is apparently an accomplished violinist. However, I love this pairing. Whenever you put two creative people together, it’s bound to be an exciting season. Set to “Don’t Worry” by Madcon, they saved the best for last with this Cha Cha, as this duo certainly dazzled like there was no tomorrow. Len said it was crisp and clean with nice hip action and called it the dance of the night. They were tied at the top of the Leader Board with a well-deserved score of 22.
And there you have it, folks! It was another star-studded premiere for Dancing with the Stars. Who do you predict will be the first celebrity sent packing next week? Barbara and Keo were at the bottom of the Leader Board, though the judges were pretty consistent throughout the evening’s scoring. If we went by who brought the least level of entertainment (which I know it’s a dance competition, but the entertainment factor is ultimately what it comes down to on live TV), my vote would be for Terrell and Cheryl to be the first to go. He had the bad fortune of going first and being totally forgettable when stacked up against his competitors … and it’s virtually unforgivable to be forgettable during the early weeks of this competition.
What did you think of the premiere? Who is your favorite? Who do you think deserves to go home next week? Tell us in the comments below!