Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars premieres tonight, with an all-new cast of sports figures and celebrities from TV and the Silver Screen. Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are back as the judges of Dancing With the Stars, but Tom Bergeron’s former co-host, Brooke Burke-Charvet, is no longer with the show. Instead, Erin Andrews is the new co-host. Another new addition is that there’s now a different bandleader, Ray Chew. He has replaced Harold Wheeler.
Something else that’s new for Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars is that there will be a new twist called “The Switch Up.” Viewers will be able to vote and change up celebrity/professional pairings during this new season. The celebrities will have to leave their assigned partners for one week and perform with a different professional.
The votes tonight will be combined with the judges scores and the overall total will determine which celebrity is eliminated next week. The first couple cut won’t know about their elimination until the end of next Monday night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars.
The first two performers tonight will be NeNe Leakes (Reality TV actress) and Tony Dovolani, and they will be dancing the cha-cha-cha to Robin Thicke’s hit, “Give It 2 U.”
They did a great job, and started Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars off right! Their performance earned them good comments from the judges, for the most part, though not the highest scores in the world.
Len told them “That’s the way to get the party started!”
Bruno called NeNe Leakes “Sister Sassy,” and added that she was his “kind of girl.”
Carrie Ann told NeNe that she had a “larger-than-life personality.”
The judges gave NeNe and Tony Dovolani straight 7’s across the board, for a total of 21 points. The judges often start out being conservative with their scores, until they see how the other dancers perform.
The second dancers of the night on Dancing With the Stars were James Maslow (Big Time Rush) and his pro dance partner, Peta Murgatroyd. They danced the foxtrot to One Direction’s song, “Story of My Life.”
We learn that the duo actually went on a date once, before they found out that they would be dancing partners. They dance really well together, IMHO, but the comments from the judges are a bit mixed.
Len said that their performance was “a little bit messy in places,” but he said that he respected that they “gave it a go.”
Bruno gave them a somewhat backhanded compliment, by saying that he liked the fact that they “put a lot of effort into this dance.”
Carrie Ann’s comments were a bit nicer. she said she had “a big-time crush” on James Maslow because, she said, “you are just so cute.”
As with the first performers of the night, James and Peta got scores of straight 7’s for a combined total of 21 points, putting them in a tie.
Danica McKellar (actress & author) and her pro dance partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, danced the foxtrot to Kelly Clarkson’s hit, “Walk Away.” Danica looks fantastic, like she’s danced before. Perhaps she’s just a quick learner….
The three judges appeared to really get into their performance, and liked it better than the first two duos on Dancing With the Stars.
Len told them that people “don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” but added that that was okay, as his “first impression” of them was “TERRIFIC!”
Bruno said something about that they got too involved with each other, like, I guess, when they kissed, and that caused them to throw away their “moves a little bit.”
Carrie Ann thought that they danced with gusto, saying that heir enthusiasm for their performance took “it to a whole other level!”
This time, the three judges gave them straight 8’s, for a combined total of 24 points, putting them into the lead — for now, anyway.
The fourth celebrity dancer of this episode of Dancing With the Stars was former NHL player, Sean Avery. His pro dance partner was Karina Smirnoff, and they danced a Contemporary dance to Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.”
Sean seemed to be a little formal and stiff tonight, but that will likely change as the season goes on.He performed some pretty cool lifts, which seemed to impress the judges somewhat; but, they didn’t reward them with very high scores.
While Len said that he thought “the lifts were terrific,” he added that the performance “needed a bit more finesse here and there.”
Bruno referred to the fact that Sean was an NHL player (I guess) when he said that he’d thought that Sean would “be a lump of ice — but, you’re not.”
Carrie Ann, possibly being somewhat flirtatious, said that Sean was “fascinating to watch.”
The judges did not give the duo the same scores for once tonight. Len and Carrie Ann gave them 7’s, while Bruno gave them the lowest score so far of the night, a 6, making a total of 20 points. This puts them in last place, so far.
The fifth couple up were Billy Dee Williams (who acted in Star Wars and other films) and pro dancer Emma Slater. As perhaps a nod to Williams’ iconic performance in Star Wars, the duo danced the cha-cha-cha to a medley from that movie.
Also, which seems to me to be unfair to the other celebrity contestants, there was an R2-D2 and also Storm Troopers on the stage while the duo danced. Also distracting, though she wore it well, was that Emma was wearing a Slave Princess Leia costume. Add to this, there were even Ewoks in the audience!
But, these theatrics apparently failed to impress the judges, who perhaps are not fans of Star Wars — who knows? The judges gave them straight 5’s, for the lowest total yet of the evening on Dancing With the Stars — just 15 meager points.
Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were the next couple up on the dance floor. They danced the cha-cha-cha to Icona Pop’s “All Night.”
Davis, you’d think, would impress the judges because of her dance background (on ice, anyway). Maybe she did, to an extent; but, the judges didn’t go any higher than giving them straight 8’s, for a combined total of 24 points. This score ties them for the lead with Danica and Val.
Dancing a Contemporary dance to Ellie Goulding’s hit, “Burn,” were Candace Cameron Bure (actress) and her pro dance partner, Mark Ballas. Part of the dance, they did lying horizontally on the floor — I wonder how the judges will react to that.
Len seemed to like how they did, telling Candace “Well done!”
Bruno gave a more mixed response, saying he “was torn between ecstasy and torment,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. Who knows with him, sometimes?
Carrie Ann appeared to be impressed, saying that Candace was “such an incredible dancer!”
The judges gave them scores of a 9 from Len to two 8’s from Carrie Ann and Bruno, making a total of 25 points, vaulting them into the lead, for the time being.
Then on Dancing With the Stars, Cody Simpson (singer) and his pro dance partner, Witney Carson, danced the cha-cha-cha to “Timber” by Pitbull, featuring Kesha.
While Cody has some dance moves, they were more like those of members of boy bands than those of ballroom dancers, and Len and Carrie Ann slammed him for that. Len told him he needed “to get a little more finesse in your dancing,” while Carrie Ann told him he needed “to work on your technique, because your feet are like all over.” Bruno was somewhat nicer, saying that they looked “like the poster-couple for the energy of youth.”
Len and Carrie Ann gave them scores of 7’s, while Bruno actually gave them an 8, for a combined total of 22 points.
The next celebrity performer was one of the ones that I. and I’m sure many other people, really wanted to see perform — Drew Carey (comedian and host of The Price is Right). His dance partner was the beautiful and talented Cheryl Burke. They performed the foxtrot to Barrett Strong’s famous hit, also sung by The Beatles, “Money (That’s What I Want.”
Drew and Cheryl were dressed in green for St. Patrick’s Day. They actually looked pretty impressive dancing the foxtrot. They earned nice compliments from the judges, but the comments weren’t reflected in the scores that they received.
Len said that their performance was “very watchable,” adding that he “enjoyed it from the first beat.”
Bruno told Drew that he had “style” and “content.”
Carrie Ann said that “Every season there’s one contestant that just makes everyone smile.”
The judges gave Drew and Cheryl straight 7’s, for a combined total of 21 points.
Next to perform on Dancing With the Stars was Paralympic bronze medal winner, Amy Purdy. She won her bronze medal in snowboarding, and her dance partner is Derek Hough.
They are another duo that many people think could go all the way this season, despite the fact that Amy is a double amputee, the first one ever on Dancing With the Stars. She refuses to look at her glass as being half-empty, always preferring to look at it being half-full. They danced the cha-cah-cha to One Republic’s song, “Counting Stars.”
They did extremely well, and gave one of the evening’s best performances so far, IMHO.
Len told Amy that she may have gotten a bronze medal in the Olympics, but she “got a gold medal in the cha-cha-cha.”
Bruno said that she had “timing, shapes, performance level,” and he declared he was “gobsmacked.”
Carrie Ann referred to Amy Purdy as being “like a beacon of light.”
The three judges gave the duo scores of straight 8’s, for a respectable total of 24 points.
There were just two more teams to go. Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad and her pro dance partner, Henry Byalikov, were the second-to-the-last couple to dance tonight. They performed the foxtrot to Bobby Darin’s hit, “Beyond the Sea.”
Diana doesn’t enjoy wearing high heels, so I doubt if we’ll see her wearing any this season.Her dancing was pretty good, though maybe not technically perfect.
Len knocked her somewhat, saying that the dance needed “a little bit more finesse.” he said that she needed to “get a little bit of fluidity,” to how she looked when she danced.
Bruno referred to Nyad’s talents as being one of the most famous long-distance endurance swimmers ever by calling her a “million-dollar mermaid,” and adding that she was also “attempting to dazzle on dry land!”
Carrie Ann used a botanical comoparison, saying that she was “like a slowly opening flower.”
However, the judges gave the duo the second-lowest score of the night yet, straight 6’s, making a total of just 18 points.
The last dancers of this episode of Dancing With the Stars were Olympic ice dancer Charlie White and his pro dance partner, Sharna Burgess. They performed a Contemporary dance, which was a good choice for them, as it involved a lot of lifts, which Charlie also did a lot in his ice dancing routines.
As Len said, “Honestly, it’s like ice-dancing without the ice.”
Bruno was floored by how well they did, as well. He said that Charlie was “an artist,” adding that “the attention to detail in week 1 is incredible.”
Carrie Ann echoed this by calling the pair “a perfect match.”
The judges rewarded the performance the highest scores of the night on Dancing With the Stars — straight 9’s! Their combined total was 27 points, which should ensure their safety next week.
On this premiere episode of Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars, the competition is already getting heated up, despite its being just the first episode of the season. While Charlie White and Sharna Burgess are more than likely safe from elimination next Monday, the same can’t be said for Billy Dee Williams and his dance partner, Emma Slater, who got the low scores of the night, with just 15 points.
Billy Dee and Emma still have the chance to avoid being eliminated, if they dance well next Monday; but, if they don’t, they might be the first couple to go. What are your opinions about who will stay and who will be the first to go next week? How are you enjoying Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars so far? Please leave your comments below!
Written by: Douglas Cobb