Jaleel White and Katherine Jenkins tie for first place, with telenovela star William Levy not far behind.
By Kelley L. Carter
A reformed nerd. A music legend. A TV host. A Super Bowl champion. All in one room together.
That could only mean one thing: ABC’s hit competition series “Dancing With the Stars” is back. The reality show that puts a cornucopia of past and present celebrities on a ballroom dance floor to test their dance moves is back for another season, and during Monday night’s (March 19) premiere, we got to see famous tailfeathers a-shaking. The celebrities will come back and dance one more time next week before the cutting begins. Overall, the judges thought this was the best opener of any of their seasons.
Here’s how the season 14 celebs fared:
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough
In their first rehearsal, the TV journalist set the stage for how we might see her grow this season, telling her partner, three-time champ Hough: “I’m like a dude, but I have boobs. I’m not dainty-like. I want to wrestle. Let’s fight!” They danced the cha-cha their first time out, and the judges thought her timing was good but that she needed to work on overall execution. “Nothing can prepare you for the first dance. But until you come onto this floor for the first time, you’re never sure how you’ll cope. Overall, I thought you coped very, very well. Great start to the show. Well done,” said head judge Len Goodman. 21/30
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya
He might be a soap-0opera bad boy, but on the dance floor, he was more animated than brooding. The judges thought he could dance and that his foxtrot had a lightness about it. What he needs to work on? His footwork. “Beautifully acted, beautifully danced. I loved the way you extend your moves. Week one! What are you going to do week two?” said Bruno Tonioli. 23/30
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd
Football players — and athletes in general — typically have a good run during this competition. Driver’s athleticism (and gridiron moves) look to serve him well. The judges thought his cha-cha was a crowd-pleaser. “You are nothing but charisma and charm for days! You kicked that cha-cha’s booty!” said Carrie Ann Inaba. 21/30
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff
The pop singer said he agreed to do the show because he wanted to get out from behind the piano during his shows. He’s certainly paired up with the right partner; Smirnoff is the defending champ from last season. The judges thought his foxtrot wasn’t the best first showing, even though they found it to have a gentle quality to it. “You coped well with a difficult dance. I liked the routine. I thought it flowed. The foxtrot is a romantic sort of dance, and you were a little bit stiff,” Goodman said. 20/30
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower
There’s always a Disney star in the mix, and the young guns tend to go far. For their first dance, they did the cha-cha, something Fegan’s professional partner thought might pair well with his natural style, considering he’s a freestyle hip-hop dancer. The judges thought Fegan and Hightower had the coolest spin they’ve seen in all 14 seasons. “You, Roshon, can go on and on and on, I’m telling you! Laser-sharp. Never too early. You split it in the middle. It was unbelievable!” Tonioli said. 23/30
Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy
For their first dance, they did the fox trot, and the “View” co-host was concerned because she said she doesn’t do elegance very well. Should she last, it’ll be something she’ll spend much of the season working on, she said. The judges said she brought the joy of dance into her routine. They also said she moved very well. “You are the happiest contestant we’ve had ever in all of the 14 seasons of ‘Dancing With the Stars’! You had so much joy. Nice job,” Inaba said. 23/30
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
She’s on the prairie no more! This former child actress — we loved her as Laura on “Little House on the Prairie” — danced the cha-cha for her first dance, and the judges thought she coped very well with a difficult dance and found her performance inspiring. “I would like to have seen a little more shape in your free arm and a little more hip action. But I thought it was a very ambitious routine,” Goodman said. 20/30
William Levy and Cheryl Burke
They call this telenovela star the Mexican Brad Pitt, but after being in front of a North American audience, the easy-money guess is that Levy, who’s actually Cuban, will be able to stand on his own name. The judges thought his first dance, the cha-cha, was incredible. They thought he captured the spirit of the dance and praised his hotness. “The hottest package of the season! The nation is wild about Levy!” Tonioli screamed. 24/30
Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovoloni
The tennis legend is a breast cancer survivor and she’s paired up with Dovoloni, one of the show’s favorite professional dancers. Their first dance was the fox trot, and the judges said the most decorated tennis player was beautiful, elegant and refined on the court. “I love strong women, but it’s so beautiful to see this transformation. I want you to work on your turns for future weeks,” Inaba said. 20/30
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas
The Welsh opera singer hopes that just because she’s a new face to North America, that won’t count her out. She sang on “DWTS” last year, and now she’s back to test her dancing skills. Her first dance was the foxtrot, and the judges said her performance was exquisite and the style was impeccable. They also said she set the bar very high. “I thought you had wonderful musicality. I liked the detail that went on throughout the dance,” Goodman said. 26/30
Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus
The Grammy winner joked that the Pips never let her dance. She’s hoping to make like a Pip this season and get her groove on. For her first dance, she took on the cha-cha, and the judges (not to mention the crowd) thought she was outstanding. The judges said there was a naturalness about her dances and that she oozed rhythm. “The legend has got the moves! You’ve got class, you’ve got sass and you are a star. A real one! Absolutely!” Tonioli said. 23/30
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson
White will always be our favorite, awkward nerd — he played Steve Urkel on the hit show “Family Matters” — but he’s hoping to discover how coordinated he is in real life. His first dance was the foxtrot, and the judges didn’t think he was a goofball at all. Tonioli said he thought he was watching Gregory Hines dance. “Jaleel, you are the icing on the cake. Smooth, smooth, super smooth,” Inaba said. 26/30
Who was your favorite celeb on the first episode of “Dancing With the Stars”? Let us know in the comments!