'Dancing with the Stars' premiere: Who triumphed and who needs improvement?

'Dancing with the Stars' kicked off its season with a new dance style and contestants that included former Olympic athletes, reality show participants, and actors. 'Dancing with the Stars' is now in its sixteenth season.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
'Dancing with the Stars' features its youngest-ever contestant this year with Disney Channel star Zendaya, who is 16.

“Dancing with the Stars” kicked off its sixteenth season by introducing one of the new dance styles which will be performed on the popular reality show.

The celebrity cast members for the current season include former Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill, singer Wynonna Judd, comedian Andy Dick, and actor D.L. Hughley. Other celebrity dancers are “The Bachelor” star Sean Lowe, former “American Idol” contestant Kellie Pickler, soap star Ingo Rademacher, “Shake It Up” star Zendaya, boxer Victor Ortiz, NFL player Jacoby Jones, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Lisa Vanderpump, and Olympic gymnast Alexandra Raisman. Zendaya is the show’s youngest contestant ever, at 16.

Four professional dancers, Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, Louis van Amstel, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, opted not to return for the current season. The new professional partners are Sharna Burgess, Gleb Savchenko, and Lindsay Arnold.

Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli all returned for the new season, as did hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke Charvet.

For the first episode, three of the couples performed contemporary routines, while the rest focused on the foxtrot and cha-cha-cha.

Hughley and his partner, Cheryl Burke, had the low score for the week, coming in with a 12/30 for their performance, several points behind second-lowest-scoring couple Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess's 17/30 score. Many of the contestants clustered with scores between 18 and 21, and Zendaya and her partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, captured the high score with 24/30.

According to the website Wetpaint, Pickler expressed trepidation over what she saw as high expectations for her performance.

“People are expecting me to be good, and I don’t know if I am or not,” she said. “I hope people don’t have too high of expectations for me, because I’m not a dancer.” 

The past several celebrity winners for the competition have been a mix of reality TV contestants (fall 2012 winner Melissa Rycroft), football players (spring 2012 champ Donald Driver and spring 2011 winner Hines Ward), and actors (fall 2011’s J.R. Martinez, who is also a former soldier, and fall 2010 winner Jennifer Grey). The professional winners during the past several seasons have often been different, with only dancer Derek Hough winning twice in the last six seasons, when he won the title for the spring 2010 and fall 2010 seasons.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.