It has been a while since we’ve talked about ABC’s renowned ballroom dance competition show, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). The show has been on the air, spreading the love for ballroom and partner dancing for 18 seasons, but it’s been pretty much the same cavalcade of celebrities and drama for the the past few years. This year, however, it’s all about Change, Change, Change!
Changes to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in Season 18
At the judge’s table, Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are back, however, there are going to be some big changes to the faces and format of the show. So, what’s new this season?
For the first time, DWTS will feature a new game changing twist called “The Switch Up,” in which viewers at home can vote to switch up the cast pairings. We don’t know when this opportunity to change things up will come, so stay tuned throughout the season.
This season also sees the addition of ESPN-turned-FOX Sports reporter and former contestant, Erin Andrews, who joins Tom Bergeron as co-host. And pro dancer famously styled as the ‘bad boy’ of ballroom, Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Maks), who was Andrews’ dance partner in 2010, makes his return after a year hiatus.
The Celebrity Line-Up and Premiere Recap
Check out the list of this season’s 12 competitors and their pro dance partners (for now…). Some cast members have a clear advantage in the field of dance, some are die-hard competitors, others are the underdogs looking to show the world they can hang, and there is one inspirational contestant who is proving the old adage “Anyone Can Dance”!
I suspect this is going to be one of the most talented seasons yet, as there are a few celebrity contestants who have the potential to become professional ballroom dancers by the end of the competition.
Danica McKellar (Partner: Val Chmerkovskiy)
Best known the dream girl next door, Winnie Cooper, from the 1990’s series “The Wonder Years,” Danica is now a mathematician and author. She and Maksim’s brother, Val, did a foxtrot to Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away.” Danica is definitely here to win. Total Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24
Candace Cameron Bure (Partner: Mark Ballas)
Famous for playing DJ Tanner on “Full House,” Candace has continued to work in showbiz doing TV movies, hosting shows and writing books. The wife, mother and devout Christian will be keeping her costumes modest to be an inspiration and role model to ladies everywhere. That modesty didn’t stop her from giving audiences an impressive contemporary performance to Ellie Goulding’s “Burn.” Total Score: 9, 8, 8 = 25
Drew Carey (Partner: Cheryl Burke)
Comedian Drew Carey, best known for his own sitcom or as the host of “The Price Is Right,” is going to keep up his stellar weight-loss with a fox trot. After losing 80 pounds, Drew is light on his feet. Total Score: 7, 7, 7 = 21
Diana Nyad (Partner: Henry Byalikov)
Diana made headlines in 2013 as the first person to swim Cuba to Key West. She may be a little more comfortable in the water than on dry land, but her foxtrot with newcomer pro, Henry, earned respectable scores. Total Score: 6, 6, 6 = 18
Cody Simpson (Partner: Witney Carson)
As the youngest competitor, 17-year-old Australian pop star, Cody, put his long legs to good use in a cha cha. His upper body shows great control, but his lower half is wild like a giraffe’s neck. Total Score: 7, 8, 7 = 22
NeNe Leakes (Partner: Tony Dovolani)
This outspoken and popular star from “Real Housewives of Atlanta”, “Glee”, “The New Normal” and more, is excited to be branching out to DWTS. NeNe is no stranger to competitions after being on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” She looks pretty comfortable out on the dance floor, but she’s got a casual style that earned some remarks from the judges. Total Score: 7, 7, 7 = 21
Meryl Davis (Partner: Maksim Chmerkovskiy)
Meryl and DWTS contestant, Charlie White (see below), won a gold medal for ice dancing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia last month. With plenty of training already under her belt, this known perfectionist is going to be pretty hard to beat!
Despite being paired with the ‘bad boy’ of ballroom, Maks, we expect great things from her as the season continues…perhaps we’ll even see a ‘pro’ ballroom dancer added to her resume. Total Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24
Charlie White (Partner: Sharna Burgess)
Charlie will be challenging his ice dancing partner, Meryl Davis, for the DWTS win! Charlie comes into this contest with a lot of advantages, as he is well-balanced and prepared to be a strong partner/leader. He was top of the class with his first contemporary routine. Total Score: 9, 9, 9 = 27
In support of Meryl and Charlie (and Amy), you may notice Olympians Gracie Gold and DWTS Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi in the audience. I guess it’s easy to see how Olympic-level discipline and ice skating balance may help carry Meryl and Charlie towards the finals.
Amy Purdy (Partner: Derek Hough)
This is probably one of the most inspiring contestants to ever grace the DWTS floor. Amy, bronze medalist in snowboarding at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, is the first double amputee to compete on the show! That’s right, she is wearing prosthetics after losing her legs (below the knees) to bacterial meningitis. Her cha cha is amazing and her hip action is unbelievable! No words… Total Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24
*Warning: You may cry watching this video, I know I do. Grab some tissues…
Sean Avery (Partner: Karina Smirnoff)
This former NHL player (Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers) showed he has the strength and finesse to deliver a good contemporary performance. Apparently he watched “Footloose” a hundred times in preparation, but he wan’t quite loose enough. Total Score: 7, 6, 7 = 20
James Maslow (Partner: Peta Murgatroyd)
Pop star of boy band “Big Time Rush” reveals he and partner Peta once went out on a date – awkward! Their past certainly created some chemistry into their foxtrot. Total Score: 7, 7, 7 = 21
Billy Dee Williams (Partner: Emma Slater)
Better known for his portrayal of ‘Lando Calrissian’ in the “Star Wars” franchise, Billy Dee steps out doing a cha cha. Unfortunately, he received the lowest scores of the night, however, at 76, Billy Dee showed us he still knows how to put on a show…R2-D2 included! Total Score: 5, 5, 5 = 15
Ballroom at Atomic Ballroom
Brush up on your ballroom skills so you can dance along with ‘Dancing with the Stars’! There are weekly classes, regular workshops and plenty of social dancing on Monday’s and Saturday’s to tryout your new moves.