It's time to officially break a leg or two because 'Dancing With the Stars' has finally returned with its 27th installment! Yes, fans, your prayers were answered Monday itself, and honestly - what could be a better way to start the week, right? As expected, the season premiere abounded in impressive moves and stellar performances - some with exceptional effort and others not so much. And oh, there was some sniping going on between the judges too.
Let's just say, all those super glittery costumes weren't the only things sizzling in the room. But the season premiere was full of surprises, with not just marvelous performances that left the judges awestruck, but also in terms of performers and acts never-seen-before, and of course, the inevitable on-the-floor injury that happened to arrive in the opening episode itself.
Let's just say, apart from the shocking bits, the rest of the premiere went on like any other previous installments of the series, which brings us to the most important question of all: with each act as stellar as the other, who will emerge the winning contestants this time?
Of course, to decide that we have to know the participants battling for the title this year.
The following are this year's contestants as announced by ABC earlier:
Joe Amabile, 31, 'Bachelorette' and 'Bachelor in Paradise' veteran, partnered with Jenna Johnson
Bobby Bones, 38, country radio personality, partnered with Sharna Burgess
Juan Pablo Di Pace, 39, actor, partnered with Cheryl Burke
Nikki Glaser, 34, comedian, partnered with Gleb Savchenko
Evanna Lynch, 27, actress, partnered with Keo Motsepe
Milo Manheim, 17, actor, partnered with Witney Carson
Nancy McKeon, 52, actress, partnered with Val Chmerkovskiy
Alexis Ren, 21, model, partnered with Alan Bersten
Mary Lou Retton, 50, Olympic gymnast, partnered with Sasha Farber
John Schneider, 58, actor, partnered with Emma Slater
Tinashe, 25, singer, partnered with Brandon Armstrong
Danelle Umstead, 46, Paralympic downhill skier, partnered with Artem Chigvintsev
DeMarcus Ware, 36, NFL player, partnered with Lindsay Arnold
Now that that's out of the way, somewhere between Bobby Bones getting his shoulder injury in the middle of his 'exquisitely demented' performance and Instagram model Alexis Ren also risking an on-floor injury, Danelle Umstead clearly emerged as the triumphant winner of the night not because of her incredible skills, but because of how she portrayed them as the first blind contestant on the show ever.
Danelle's performance was moving in every fathomable way, and inspiring at that too. At the end of her graceful foxtrot, her husband Rob and her guide dog, Aziza moved the audience to tears as they appeared on the ballroom floor.
Sentiments aside, if strictly considered in the manner of dancing skills, three out of the 13 duos stood out the most and should be watched out for as top contenders for the finals. Or that's what judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli thought.
1) DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
The two floored the audience and judges with their exceptional cha cha performance, scoring 8, 7, 8 and reaching a peak total of 23 out of 30 points. DeMarcus is best known for his NFL career; with nine years to his credit with the Dallas Cowboys, he moved to the Denver Broncos and just a couple of years later they won the Super Bowl. Being a retired player, DeMarcus' driving force is a new sense of competition that he can prove his dominance over. And sure as well, much like the history of the show with athletes, DeMarcus did not disappoint.
Len particularly pointed out DeMarcus' magnificent presence on the stage along with his great personality and of course - his dancing skills have been established on the very first episode too! Even Bruno believes he's a delightful contestant - commending on the balance between his incredible strength, yet such steady soft steps. And if Carrie Ann is to be believed, his athleticism and charisma are sure to help him walk the long road to the finals.
2. Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong
They danced, they jived, and the 25-year-old Tinashe emerged as the dancing queen of the night! Their scores were 8, 7, 8 - making for a total of 23 out of 30 points. Tinashe is best known for her chart-topping RnB album that emerged as a super hit back in 2014. Their duo's driving force is her partner, Brandon - who has embarked on the journey of a pro for the first time ever. And now he wants to see if he can help bag a win!
But looks like he's already on the exact right path he should be aiming for, as Len believes their audience-favorite performance was full of “snap, crackle, and pop.” Considering it's the first week, he believes this was one of the most top-notch performances ever. Bruno loved their routine as it was both fun and impressive. And even though Carrie Ann believes Tinashe should embrace her stardom and show off more of her personality on the floor, they clearly emerged as one of the strongest contenders for the winner's title.
3. Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Thee two packed up the salsa heat on the dance floor and were able to score 7, 7, 8, thus gaining a total of 22 out of 30 points. Juan is most popularly known for playing Kimmy Gibbler’s estranged husband on Netflix’s hit spinoff, 'Fuller House,' and with co-stars like Candace Cameron Bure and Jodie Sweetin having already competed on the show, his driving force happens to be living up to that legacy.
And his conviction when it comes to proving himself was only amped by how off the charts his blazing chemistry with partner Cheryl is, as rightly noted by Carrie Ann. Despite the technical issues battled by the duo in their performance, Len - who is easily the toughest to impress - still believes it was a “top rate” dance. Bruno is a huge fan of them already too! “I mean, come on, that’s a salsa that gets under your skin," he remarked. Clearly - the judges seem to have a latent favorite already, someone they would love to see in the finals.