Thirteen contestants and their professional dance partners are all vying for that chance to win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy, just four months after Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy were crowned the champions of the spring season of Dancing With the Stars.
Now a whole new cast has taken the stage and kicked off season 21 with a bang as shown in their opening credit number choreographed by Emmy award-winning choreographer, Mandy Moore.
Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews return as hosts of the show, ready with their wit and often hilarious commentary.
Absent from the show this season is Len Goodman, who is currently in the UK judging another show, Strictly Come Dancing. However, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Julianne Hough have all returned as the main judges, leaving room for any guest judges to make appearances.
Opening the show was contestant Victor Espinoza paired with pro dancer, Karina Smirnoff, who is significantly taller than the professional American Thoroughbred horse racing jockey.
“My whole family [is] into dancing. Everybody knows how to dance, except me,” Espinoza said in his video montage.
His statement proved to be true when he attempted to salsa—though he should be given credit for the energy and charisma that shined though.
Although his dance only earned him a total score of 15 out of 30, this was not the lowest score of the evening.
Kim Zolciak-Biermann of the reality television series The Real Housewives of Atlanta and pro Tony Dovolani took that title with a total score of 12—receiving only four points from each judge.
Chaka Khan, the Grammy award winning “Queen of Funk,” and partner Keo Motsepe were second to bottom with 13 points.
Both celebrity chef Paula Deen and pro Louis Van Amstel as well as actor Gary Busey and partner Anna Trebunskaya also received a low score of 15 with their mediocre dances.
The surprise of the evening was definitely Alek Skarlatos, the soldier who famously stopped a gunman while on a Paris-bound train while it traveled from Amsterdam on August 21, 2015.
His technique, skill, presence and choreography by partner Lindsay Arnold, was praised by all three judges who said he was “born to ballroom,” and the crowd definitely agreed as well as booed when his score only totaled to 22.
“My name is Alek Skarlatos, and you probably have no idea who I am,” said Skarlatos in his opening message. It’s clear that after this season, many more people will know who he is and what he’s done to make him an international hero.
Other contestants and their partners include singer Andy Grammer and Allison Holker, popular Viner Hayes Grier (also the youngest ever male performer at just 15 years old) and Emma Slater, and singer Tamar Braxton with reigning champion Chmerkovskiy. Both Grammer and Grier earned 21 points, while Braxton received 23.
To make this season even more interesting, DWTS is featuring it’s very first husband and wife competing against each other. Carlos and Alexa PenaVega are partnered with season 19 winner Witney Carson and two-time champion Mark Ballas.
Carlos, known from the Nickelodeon boy band Big Time Rush was called “the most natural performer” by the judges, while Alexa, of the Spy Kids movies, attempted “one of the hardest jives […] ever seen” while still being confident, strong and sexy.
Carlos beat out Alexa by one point with a total score of 23.
The best dances of the evening turned out to be a tied score of 24 between a member of popular 90s boy band Backstreet Boys and the daughter of the late Steve Irwin.
Nick Carter, whose brother Aaron had previously competed on the show in 2009, claimed that he was not the best dancer of BSB and would hide behind the other guys. However, he still received positive feedback from the judges who said that he could advance in the competition if he continues to perform as well as he did.
Both his partner Sharna Burgess as well as judge Julianne mentioned they had posters of him on their walls back in the day and had been fans for quite some time.
Bindi Iwrin, 17, and record-setting five-time champion Derek Hough, performed with amazing energy that won the hearts of the judges immediately and received comments such as Irwin having “adorable charm,” being “a superstar,” and having the “best performance of the night.”
Her charisma definitely shined through in every step, and Derek mentioned in their video montage that she was able to turn such a tragic experience into something positive.
Irwin’s performance received the loudest applause of all the contestants.
The season of the legal drinking age seems to already be off to a good start with moments that take even the hosts by surprise, pull at the audience’s heartstrings, and entertain viewers all over the world.
The first elimination of the season will be held next week, and you can catch Dancing With the Stars on Monday and Tuesday nights at 8/7c on ABC.