Dancing With the Stars returns Monday night, with a lot of new faces and big changes! With Tyra Banks hosting, Derek Hough behind the judges’ table, and an eclectic cast of contestants, we’re following along for the whole two-hour season 29 debut to break down all the best dances and the most surprising moments.
In the first season since since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, fans are seeing a whole new ballroom and a new, safety-focused production that’s quite a bit different from anything we’ve seen before. Meanwhile, longtime host Len Goodman will not be in the studio — as he’s currently in London amid the pandemic — but will be joining remotely to lend his ballroom expertise.
This season also features an excited cast of 15 new celebs who will hit the dance floor to take on routines they’ve never tried before. The new field of stars includes Cheer’s Monica Aldama, big cat activist Carole Baskin, Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, NFL star Vernon Davis, Disney channel star Skai Jackson, Anne Heche, Justina Machado, Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean, Jeannie Mai, Nelly, Catfish host Nev Schulman, reality star Chrishell Stause, Olympian Johnny Weir, NBA pro Charles Oakley and Jesse Metcalfe.
The battle for the Mirrorball trophy kicked off Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, and ET is bringing you all the highlights in real time.
« The show looks great and you’re doing a fabulous job, » Len tells Tyra. « And it’s great to see my old friend Derek has graduated to the judges’ desk. »
Addressing the cast, Len warns them, « I’m going to be keeping my eye on you, because you’ll see me again throughout the season. So, crack on, give it some welly! »
He then tells Tyra that she’s getting « a 10 from Len, » and Tyra can’t contain her excitement.
The Catfish creator is paired with Jenna Johnson — a past DWTS champ — and they bring a classic elegance to the ballroom for their foxtrot.
Nev dons a tux and Jenna rocked a shimmering gown for their « fabulous » routine, and it stunned the judges.
The beaming duo earn 20 out of 30 — with 7s from Carrie and Derek and a 6 from Bruno.
Kaitlyn is overwhelmed with excitement over getting partnered with Artem, and honestly, it makes a lot of sense — he’s fantastic.
For their first dance of the season, the pair don bright yellow ensembles and deliver a lively cha-cha set to Lady Gaga’s « Stupid Love. »
Bruno, Derek and Carrie Ann all call it a « great first dance » and gave specific pointers on posture and foot placement — which is a sign that they really liked the number.
You can always tell how good a dance really is based on how delicate and broad the judges feel they need to be with their critiques.
Bruno and Derek award them 7s, while Carrie gives them a 6, for a total of 20 out of 30, and earning them second place (thus far).
Disney star Skai Jackson is the youngest contestant on the show, at 18, and Alan Bersten is the perfect pro to teach her and guide her on her Mirrorball trophy journey.
The pair dance a retro-futuristic tango set to Nicki Minaj’s « Super Bass » and it’s clear that Skai has a lot to offer and is going to give everyone a run for their money.
Bruno says that, for Skai, the « sky is the limit, » and Carrie Ann says it was a « beautiful and exciting performance. » Clearly, they judges saw a lot that they liked.
The pair also broke the tie in a big way, earning three 7s for a total of 21 out of 30 — eclipsing the earlier highest score of 18 by quite a bit.
« Dirty little secret: I used to watch Passions when I was a teenager, » Sharna confesses with a laugh, before telling Jesse he’s « gonna have to bring the sexy. »
For their quickstep — set to Stevie Wonder’s « Part Time Lover » — there’s quite a bit of steaminess, and the pair come close to kissing, but it seems like this is the couple to watch if you’re looking forward to so sultry numbers in the future.
« That was one of the most passionate quicksteps I’ve ever seen, » Carrie marvels, before adding that he needs to « tame » himself a bit more.
Derek — who adorably forgot to submit his score for the dance, likely because it’s his first time behind the desk — also had a lot of love for the number.
As for their scores, the pair nabbed three 6s for a total of 18 out of 30, yet again. »
Jeannie Mai can’t contain her excitement when she meets Brandon in the rehearsal room, and is clearly ambitious when it comes to what she wants to accomplish — even without any dance experience.
So, to kick things off, the pair take on a salsa set to Taylor Dayne’s « Tell It to My Heart, » and it’s wilder and more enthusiastic that anyone seems to expect.
Bruno says she looks like « a little ray » of sunshine » and that she captured « the spirit of the dance. »
Carrie and Derek also marveled at how great of a start the number was, and they seem excited to see what she’ll pull off in the coming weeks.
The pair get all 6s across the board and are now part of a three-way tie for first place with a total of 18.
Anne Heche has been partnered with Keo Motsepe, and the pair dance the cha-cha set to Dua Lipa’s « Don’t Start Now. »
Rocking shimmering silver gowns, it’s clear that Anne is here to play and getting partnered with the fantastic Keo might give her a fighting chance.
« You make me smile, as soon as you started, » Derek marveled. « It was so much fun! »
The pair ended up earning three 6s for a total of 18, and putting them on top of the leaderboard (for now).
The NFL star and the DWTS superstar pro are a wonderfully matched couple, and they prove it in a big way with their romantic foxtrot, set to John Legend’s « All of Me. »
« That was really impressive. You mixed and elegance and tenderness with a masculinity, » Carrie Ann marvels, before informing them that she docked them a point for the lift in their routine.
After the feedback, Vernon admitted that he’s « feeling the pressure » to win the season, because of how well football players have done on the show in the past.
If the first set of scores is any indication, it’s not impossible. They get 6s from Bruno and Derek, and a 5 (which would have been a 6 if not for the lift) from Carrie Ann. Their total is 15.
Rocking a sparkling gold gown, Chrishell and her pro partner Gleb hit the ballroom to try their hand at a Tango.
Pink’s « Raise Your Glass » provides the perfect compliment to their energetic number, but as Bruno points out, they are « a long way » from getting it right.
Carrie Ann says she has « lots of potential » but lost her footing early on in the dance. That being said, Carrie is excited to see what she brings in the coming weeks.
The pair got 4s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 5 from Derek for a total of 13.
The pro/celeb partnerships weren’t announced ahead of time, so we are learning in real time who is dancing with whom.
For their first number, a jive, the pair hit the dance floor and gave it all with a lively routine set to The Weeknd’s « Blinding Lights. »
« You felt comfortable out there,… this is going to be a great partnership, » Derek says, in his first bit of feedback as a DWTS judge.
New host Tyra Banks knows how to rock a striking red dress and some voluminous hair!
Even without a big audience, she basks in the glory of cheering — although it’s also surreal to see the empty ballroom, save for the judges.
We all new that the COVID precautions would make things quite a bit different, but these dancers make social distancing look good!
Check out the video to hear more about this season’s stellar, star-studded cast and the biggest changes from Dancing With the Stars’ new host!
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‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 29: What to Expect From Premiere Night
Jesse Metcalfe Says ‘DWTS’ Is Helping Him Lose His ‘Quarantine 15’
‘Dancing With the Stars’: Derek Hough Explains His New Role This Season
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