‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 24 Premiere: Simone Biles Emerges as the One to Beat

Time to put on your dancing shoes! On Monday, March 20, Dancing With the Stars kicked off its 24th season, which also marked the show’s 400th episode. That’s right — 400. With 12 dances to get through, there wasn’t a moment to waste, so after some brief introductions from the judges — Julianne Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman — the performances began. While there had been quite a bit of buzz about the strong female competitors this season, which include an Olympic medal figure skater, two pop stars and the most decorated women’s gymnast of all time (watch Simone Biles’ stunning performance in the clip above!), some of the men proved to be pleasant surprises … and others, not so much. Here’s how it all shook out.

The Good

Former Olympian Nancy Kerrigan was paired with Artem Chigvintsev. It’s been a number of years since she took to the ice on the world stage, but she wanted to come back to show everyone she’s “more than someone who was attacked.” (If you’re too young to know what she’s talking about, look up Tanya Harding.) She and Artem performed a Viennese waltz that impressed the judges, though they still felt Nancy needed to work on figuring out where to look while she was performing. She ended up with a solid 28 out of 40.

Tying with Kerrigan was Glee alum turned mom Heather Morris and her partner, Maks Chmerkovskiy. Though Heather is a trained dancer, she doesn’t have experience in ballroom, which she reminded the viewers as many times as she could during her video package. Carrie Ann complimented her “beautiful lines” but complained that Heather didn’t show any of her personality in her dance, although Len called Heather and Maks a “match made in heaven.” As they were getting their scores, Maks took a minute to give a shout-out to Peta Murgatroyd, who recently gave birth to their son. “Peta, I just want to say I love you, and that was amazing,” he said. Erin Andrews thought that was sweet, but still shut Maks down when he tried taking half of the credit for producing the child. (According to Erin, that was Peta’s work.)

Rounding out the 28s were Chicago Cubs alum David Ross and Lindsay Arnold, who performed a quickstep that honestly stunned the judges. David said his only dance experience was “trying to grind up” on his now-wife back when they were in high school, and explained he was doing the show to show his kids it was OK to try new things. He was also pretty convinced that Lindsay had no idea who he was, and he seemed to be right. The judges hadn’t expected much from him but were blown away by his performance. Bruno even called him “fresh as a daisy.”

Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei and partner Valentin Chmerkovski (who won season 23 with Simone Biles’ Olympic teammate Laurie Hernandez) just missed those numbers, sliding in with a 27 for their quickstep. They were first of the night, though, so there’s a good chance nerves were at play. All of the judges couldn’t wait to see what they brought to the dance floor next week.

The Bad

It’s no surprise that people were really, really excited for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Girardi (a.k.a. Erika Jayne) to join the show. Teamed with easy-on-the-eyes Gleb Savchenko, Erika seemed primed for a stunning first go. She didn’t fail, but she didn’t nail it either. They danced a salsa to her newest song, “Expensive,” and while their routine included a unicorn, thigh-high lace-up bright red boots and lots of sparkles, Erika’s balance was a bit off, and the judges noticed. Still, Julianne praised Erika for her mission to encourage women over 40 to embrace their sensuality, and even Len admitted she was full of “flair and confidence.” She and Gleb earned a 24, which wasn’t “bad” per se, but it wasn’t what fans expected.

Somehow, Nick Viall tied with her. Yep, the Bachelor vet and new mom Peta teamed for a cha-cha that also got a 24. Julianne said Nick had “pancake feet,” and Len said his moves were “disjointed,” but they mainly just seemed impressed he made it through. Erin spent the requisite amount of time gushing over Peta’s insane post-baby body.

Just behind them with a 22 came professional bull rider Bonner Bolton with Sharna Burgess. They opted for a shirtless cowboy theme for their cha-cha, which the crowd certainly appreciated, but Bonner’s dance moves left the judges unsatisfied. Still, Len thought they had “great potential” and “great chemistry,” and Bruno assured Sharna she was in for the ride of her lifetime. We’re sure he meant on the dance floor, probably.

The Terrible

Keo Motsepe was paired with Charo, who was pretty much exactly the way you’d imagine her to be. She had tons and tons of energy, but needed to work on her technique a bit, and after every comment from every judge, she screamed — not like a little girlish yelp, but a full-on, horror-movie shriek. They ended up with a 21.

Kym Herjavec and Mr. T were also pretty lackluster, as their score of 20 reflected, though he had a great attitude that made the judges love him anyway (and it’s not like anyone was expecting him to be a ballroom expert). Bruno said Mr. T did enough to get him “hooked for the second week,” but Carrie Ann was openly frustrated by his many mistakes.

And then there was Chris Kattan. The former Saturday Night Live star was paired with Witney Carson, and she did her best to capitalize on his funny-man vibe — unfortunately, his dancing was awful. Len said the best thing about their cha-cha was that he didn’t “have to watch it again.” Ouch.

Simone Biles and Sasha Farber Craig Sjodin/ABC

The Amazing

It turned out NFL player Rashad Jennings is a really, really good dancer! Paired with Emma Slater, he floated around the ballroom like it was his second home. Julianne called their cha-cha the best dance of the night so far, and Bruno said it was a revelation. They earned a 31 and lots of respect from the judges — but Simone Biles still hadn’t danced yet.

The gold medal winner and her partner, Sasha Farber, were the last pair to dance, probably for good reason — and that reason was that everyone suspected they were going to blow the competition out of the water. Suffice it to say, they did that with their tango. Carrie Ann called them “the power couple” of the season, and Len declared it the best dance of the night. They earned 8s across the board and landed in first spot.

Based on this week’s episode, it’s going to be hard for anyone to catch Simone — but stranger things have happened on the way to the mirrorball.

Tell Us: Who do you think is going to win season 24?

Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. 

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