'Dancing with the Stars' premiere recap: Season 27 begins on a high note

ByCari Skillman and George Pennacchio WPVI logo
Friday, September 28, 2018
Season 27 of "Dancing with the Stars" begins on a high note
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The "Dancing with the Stars" judges and host Tom Bergeron are impressed with the level of talent on season 27 of "Dancing with the Stars."

LOS ANGELES -- Dance fans, the time has come for another season of "Dancing with the Stars." For this 27th season, we'll see 13 celebrities "cha cha" out of their comfort zones and try to dazzle the judges and the viewers with their new moves. Each couple will perform a jive, cha cha, foxtrot, salsa or quickstep. There will not be an elimination on this first night. Everyone returns for part two of the season premiere on Tuesday.

Here's a recap of the night's dances, from highest to lowest scores:

Tinashe- 23 out of 30

The popstar clearly knows how to move, but the world of ballroom is a new beast to Tinashe. Luckily, she has new pro Brandon Armstrong to lead her. They come up with a fast, fun jive that had host Tom Bergeron quip, "that did not look like a week-one dance!" Head judge Len Goodman said the routine had plenty of snap, crackle and pop and the performance was top notch. Bruno Tonioli called the dance foxy, fast, dynamic and clean. Carrie Ann Inaba told Tinashe she is a clearly a star.

DeMarcus Ware- 23 out of 30

DeMarcus continues the legacy of football players making a strong showing on DWTS. The retired Super Bowl champ is ready for his next challenge and he's decided it's dancing. Lindsay Arnold is happy to be the coach to bring him along this journey toward mirror-ball glory. Len thinks DeMarcus has a fantastic presence and personality and that he's not a bad dancer either! Bruno dubbed him "delightful, delicious DeMarcus" and thought he brought strength and lightness to the ballroom. Carrie Ann said "yummy, yummy."

Juan Pablo Di Pace-22 out of 30

Juan Pablo is a co-star on the sitcom "Fuller House" and two of his castmates have been on DWTS: Candace Cameron Bure and Jodie Sweetin. So he knows just what he's getting into! His partner, and coach, is Cheryl Burke, who's won the mirror ball twice and has been on the show 20 times before. She quickly whips him into shape. Carrie Ann called the dance and their chemistry, "fuego" and sees plenty of potential. Bruno thought it was a salsa that got under your skin. And Len made the unique, slightly disturbing, comment that Juan Pablo is 100 percent the hunk with the junk in the trunk (he liked his rhythm).

Alexis Ren- 21 out of 30

Whether or not you know Alexis completely depends on your age. She's an Instagram model and influencer, with more than 12 million followers. (That sentence meant nothing to my mother, a die-hard DWTS fan). But those who like the show love to see people who learn how to dance, and that's what is happening here. Alan Bersten has taken an inexperienced young woman and taught her a pretty good jive in week one! Alexis' reason for signing up for the show is simple, but sweet: it was her mom's favorite show, and she has passed away. She's dancing in Mom's honor. Len appreciated her footwork and general attack; Carrie Ann praised Alan's coaching and choreography.

Bobby Bones- 20 out of 30

The country radio personality brings all of that personality and more to the ballroom. I don't think we've quite seen anything like it! He is all in for learning. Bobby is also at ground zero as far as experience. But his ace is his partner, Sharna Burgess. She's come so close many times, but has yet to win the mirror ball trophy. The two perform a raucous, energetic jive to the Travis Tritt classic "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and that's what he is! At the end of the dance Bobby literally went crazy. He was just so happy to get through the routine! Bruno called the dance "exquisitely demented;" Carrie Ann admitted it was rough around the edges but said she loved it; and Len gave him props for attacking the dance "full on".

Milo Manheim- 20 out of 30

At 17, Milo is the youngest competitor on the dance floor. His partner, Witney Carson, tells him she has a little brother his age so it seems she'll know how to handle him! In rehearsal, the Disney Channel star looked a little stiff and "zombie like", but that was all gone when they performed in the ballroom. Bruno praised the energy and exuberance the couple brought to the dance, but warned the very tall Milo to watch his flailing legs. Carrie Ann was excited by the potential of the couple, even though he's starting a little wild she thinks Witney can steer him down the right path. Len agreed that Milo needs to watch his control but also called him a dancer!

Mary Lou Retton- 19 out of 30

The Olympic Gold medalist has been out of the spotlight for a bit but says she is ready to challenge herself again. Her big wish for DWTS? A short partner! (Mary Lou is 4 feet 9 inches tall). She got her wish and is dancing with Sasha Farber. For their first dance, the two performed a Cha Cha to "Treasure" by Bruno Mars. Len called her "nifty for 50" (her age) and applauded her confidence. He also advised her to take a breath, calm down, and don't rush things. Bruno likes that she's as "elastic" as she was as a gymnast and the fact she hasn't lost her competitive streak. Carrie Ann said Mary Lou is still "golden" and thought the routine was clean, precise and sharp.

Evanna Lynch- 18 out of 30

The actress who won over millions of young fans when she joined the "Harry Potter" franchise is returning to her first love -- dancing -- with this show. Evanna revealed she actually tried to get into not one, not two, but three dance schools and they all rejected her! From first glance, it looks like their loss. She's partnered with Keo Motsepe and they get the tough foxtrot for week one. Len considered it a tough hand to be dealt this early and only gave them a score of 5. But Len also said that he saw a dancer inside her. Carrie Ann and Bruno agree, with Inaba complimenting the trust she could already see in these two. Bruno asked her about being scared and Evanna said this live competition was 100 times scarier than Hogwarts!

Nancy McKeon- 18 out of 30

Who doesn't love Jo from "The Facts of Life?" It's great to see Nancy step away from her role as full-time mom to two beautiful daughters and step back into the spotlight. She's dancing with previous champ Val Chmerkovskiy, who's in the ballroom for his 14th season. He teaches her a quickstep that Len calls "nothing fancy Nancy" but added that it was a good solid performance. Carrie Ann also loved how much emotion Nancy brings to her performance.

John Schneider- 18 out of 30

This former "Dukes of Hazzard" star gets a "meet cute" with his pro partner, Emma Slater, who drives up in a police car (in her cut-off jeans and cowboy boots). She's a fan and lets him know "Dukes" was "massive" in England. His goal is to just get more comfortable on a dance floor. Carrie Ann thinks he succeeded, and likes his natural charm. Bruno thought the foxtrot routine had some ups and down, but applauded John for not running out of fuel. Len was not a fan, and thought the dance was rough and lacked finesse.

Danelle Umstead- 18 out of 30

This is one of the biggest challenges DWTS has ever had. Danelle is a bronze medal-winning ski champion. She's also legally blind. Her partner Artem Chigvintsev took a big, deep breath when they met but went right to work. Danelle learns movement by touch, and then says she "paints a picture in her head". Their foxtrot was fluid and lovely and pretty amazing given the circumstances. Before we heard from the judges, host Tom Bergeron brought up Danelle's husband, who gave her high marks. The judges were impressed and gave the couple "6's" across the board.

Nikki Glaser- 17 out of 30

The comedian and host lets us know dancing scares her more than absolutely anything in this world. And this comes from a woman who makes her life getting up on the stage and performing stand-up comedy! Gleb Savchenko shows up at one of her shows and surprises her with an introduction and welcome to the DWTS family. She's blown away by his handsomeness. The two get right to work in rehearsal for their salsa. One unfortunate thing is they followed Juan Pablo and Cheryl and their hot, hot salsa; this was definitely the mild brand of salsa. Len said outright it looked awkward and that Nikki was too cool and careful; time to let loose and just dance! Bruno said it wasn't a total train wreck, but her hips got derailed somewhere along the way. Carrie Ann reminded her she's taking baby (dance) steps and to try and think of her body as one long unit, not separate arms, legs, hips, etc.

Joe Amabile- 14 out of 30

He's a favorite of the "Bachelor" nation and "Grocery Store Joe" had a very vocal chorus of fans in the audience. Jenna Johnson has the challenge of making this reality star into a dancer and it's a tall order. Joe really, really doesn't want to be the first one sent home because he was in the first batch of bachelors who got eliminated during his season on "The Bachelorette." He'll need every one of those fans to vote since he got the lowest score of the night for his quickstep. Carrie Ann and Bruno did say he was very charming. Len said he wanted to root for the nice guy but just couldn't because when he performed, things just went so, so wrong.

On part two of the season premiere, the 13 celebrities get ready to hit the ballroom floor once again on Tuesday night with a new routine. We'll also be introduced to the talented young performers who make up the cast of the "sister" show, "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors."