Among the new celebrity cast are TV icon Suzanne Somers, music great Patti LaBelle, football player Michael Sam, "Shark Tank" star Robert Herjavec and U.S. Army veteran Noah Galloway, a double amputee.
Each star and his or her pro partner danced either the cha cha, foxtrot or jive before judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough (Derek Hough’s sister), Bruno Tonioli, and the panel’s head judge, Len Goodman.
The couple with the lowest combined total of judges’ scores and viewer votes will be eliminated from the competition on March 23.
This is the 10th year of the show. According to its website, some couples' rehearsals will be livestreamed through “Dancing With the Stars”: All Access.
This year, the winners of the competition will receive a new golden mirror ball. The previous trophy was silver.
Willow Shields: At 14, the “Hunger Games” actress is the youngest competitor in the show’s history. She and her pro partner, Mark Ballas, danced a cha-cha. Goodman called it a “great start this evening.” Hough said it was well done for the actress’ first dance, and Tonioli, riffing on “The Hunger Games” theme, intoned: “Ah, tribute Willow, the odds are definitely in your favor.” Inaba said Shields showed “incredible pizzazz” and sophistication. Shields earned three 6s and a 7, for a total of 25 out of a possible 40 points.
Robert Herjavec: The “Shark Tank” star was beaming throughout his routine as he and partner Kym Johnson performed their cha-cha, earning cheers from the audience. Judges praised his enthusiasm. Tonioli said Herjavec connected with the audience, Inaba said he was “effervescent,” and Hough added: “I was completely blown away … you look like you had the time of your life and that is what this competition is about.” Goodman added: “I expected the shark to be a fish out of water but you came on, you embraced the show, you gave it everything you’ve got, your smile lit up the place.” Herjavec earned four 7s, for a total of 28 points.
Riker Lynch: Judges praised the R5 band member and partner Allison Holker’s high-energy, rock-infused jive. Inaba called it “explosive and exciting and athletic,” while Tonioli said Lynch’s performance reminded him of rocker Billy Idol. Goodman said it was “full on, flat out, lots of energy and attack,” but said Lynch’s next dance would require more finesse. Hough said she was excited for Holker and Lynch’s partnership. Lynch earned three 8s and a 7, for a total of 31 points.
Charlotte McKinney: The model had to tape her ample bosom for rehearsal, but judges praised her attitude – even as they pointed out mistakes in the beginning of her routine with pro partner Keo Motsepe. “You have wonderful energy. You’re pretty. Come back next week and don’t do any mistakes,” Tonioli said. Inaba said McKinney was “so much fun to watch,” and Goodman commended her for not letting her mistakes faze her. Hough said the jive was a tough dance but commended McKinney, who earned two 5s and two 6s, for a total of 22 points.
Patti LaBelle: The music icon’s elegant foxtrot with Artem Chigvintsev earned her a standing ovation. Goodman said the routine had “a lovely naturalness about it,” and Hough said LaBelle, 70, was a “gorgeous, graceful goddess” when she danced. Tonioli said LaBelle’s dancing was elegant, composed and restrained, and Inaba said she thought it was “fabulous.” LaBelle earned three 6s and a 7, for a total of 25 points.
Chris Soules: Soules, who starred in ABC’s “The Bachelor,” danced a jive with pro partner Witney Carson. Hough liked the routine but said Soules could have pointed his feet better. Tonioli called Soules “rough, rugged, yet totally charming,” but said he shouldn’t hunch forward so much. Inaba said Soules had “charisma out the yin yang,” while Goodman said Soules was a little like the routine’s prop truck – “you need some polish … but as somebody else has said, you’ve got great potential.” Soules earned two 6s and two 7s, for a total of 26 points.
Michael Sam: The football player received mixed reviews. Judges found problems with his footwork but otherwise enjoyed his performance. Tonioli said the routine was spunky and funky and praised pro partner Peta Murgatroyd’s choreography and instruction. Inaba called Sam “a beautiful, gorgeous man” with an incredible body, but she urged him not to paste a smile on his face. “Just be authentic,” she said. Goodman added: “Everything about the dancing was terrific but your footwork was atrocious,” and Hough said Sam’s footwork was “a little bit sloppy,” but added he was fun to watch. Sam earned two 6s and two 7s, for a total of 26 points.
Nastia Liukin: The Olympic gymnast and partner Derek Hough danced a foxtrot to the song, “New York, New York,” that Inaba called “fantastic” and “a showstopper,” but she chided them for including a prohibited lift. Goodman liked it. “Like the Big Apple, it was sweet and delicious,” he said. Hough called it the “most explosive first dance” Liukin could have, but warned her about overarching her back. Tonioli echoed the caution, but called the routine “a spectacular debut.” Liukin earned two 7s and two 8s, for a total of 30 points.
Redfoo: Redfoo, of the duo LMFAO, earned commendations for his showmanship but criticism for his technique. “You dance like your hair, a little wild and unkempt … but it was a fun, fun thing to watch,” Goodman said of the routine with pro dancer Emma Slater. Tonioli said he loved Redfoo’s “wonderful wackiness” but said the band member’s footwork needed more control. Inaba said she liked how Redfoo worked the hook of the song – his own “Juicy Wiggle” – but said there was more to the dance than just the hook. Redfoo earned two 5s and two 6s, for a total of 22 points.
Noah Galloway: The U.S. Army veteran and double amputee danced a touching cha cha that earned him a standing ovation. Hough said Galloway’s connection with his pro partner, Sharna Burgess, was beautiful. Tonioli called Galloway “a titan among men,” adding that he had a unique presence. Goodman called Galloway’s ability to come out and dance “a major triumph.” Inaba teared up as she thanked Galloway for challenging himself and her. “It was profound and you’re broadening my scope of what dance looks like,” she said. He earned two 6s and two 7s, for a total of 26 points.
Suzanne Somers: The “Three’s Company” actress had some missteps in her ThighMaster-themed cha cha with pro partner Tony Dovolani. Tonioli urged her to be careful but told her the routine was “very well executed.” Goodman said he loved the concept of the routine, but it was “a little bit careful.” Hough agreed that it was “a bit safe.” Somers earned three 6s and a 7, for a total of 25 points.
Rumer Willis: The actress’ passionate foxtrot with pro partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy was the final performance of the night but she earned the night’s highest score. Inaba called the performance “captivating,” while Goodman told Chmerkovskiy – who has never won in eight seasons -- that this season could be the one. Hough said she had chills watching the pair. “I think, for me, you guys are definitely the ones to watch.” Tonioli agreed: “Rumor definitely has it, big time,” he said. Willis earned four 8s, for a total of 32 points.
Rumer Willis with Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 32
Riker Lynch with Allison Holker: 31
Nastia Liukin with Derek Hough: 30
Robert Herjavec with Kym Johnson: 28
Chris Soules and Witney Carson: 26
Michael Sam with Peta Murgatroyd: 26
Noah Galloway with Sharna Burgess: 26
Willow Shields with Mark Ballas: 25
Patti LaBelle with Artem Chigvintsev: 25
Suzanne Somers with Tony Dovolani: 25
Charlotte McKinney with Keo Motsepe: 22
RedFoo with Emma Slater: 22