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Dancing With the Stars Season 18 Premiere Recap: Who Dazzled? Who Fell Flat? (Spoilers!)

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas pose for Dancing with the Stars
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas competed on Monday's Dancing With the Stars premiere -- find out how she and other stars did

Dance party! Dancing With the Stars kicked off its 18th season in big fashion on Monday, March 17, with a flashy, loud, sequin-covered premiere featuring some old pros, some new faces, and some seriously impressive moves. Let's recap! (Spoilers ahead, obviously.) See more photos from DWTS.

The episode kicked off with a live performance by Jason Derulo, who got the crowd riled up with an energetic rendition of his hit "Talk Dirty to Me." He was joined onstage by the DWTS pros, who sashayed around the floor in sequined bras and feathered skirts (for the girls) and black pants and shirts (for the guys). 

After their big finish, Tom Bergeron took center stage to introduce himself and his new co-host, Erin Andrews, who replaced Brooke Burke-Charvet. Together, they presented the new cast of stars competing for the coveted Mirrorball trophy: NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani; James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd; Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy; Sean Avery and Karina Smirnoff; Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy; Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater; Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas; Cody Simpson and Witney Carson; Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke; Amy Purdy and Derek Hough; Diana Nyad and Henry Byalikov; and Charlie White and Sharna Burgess.

Related: PHOTOS: Meet the DWTS season 18 contestants!

NeNe and Tony

"I've never taken a dance class before, but I've always had a lot of soul," NeNe said in the intro package before her dance, the first of the season. Added Tony: "She's got a lot of personality. Enough for both of us!"

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star brought that big personality to the dance floor, where she and Tony performed the Cha Cha Cha to "Give It 2 Me" by Robin Thicke. "I haven't seen shake like that since this morning's quake!" Tom told her afterward, referring to the 4.4 earthquake in Southern California. The judges were fans, too. "I tell you what — that's the way to get the party started," Len Goodman said. "It was like an all-you-can-eat buffet of fun and entertainment!"

Score: 21 out of 30 (7 each from Carrie Ann Inaba, Len, and Bruno Tonioli)

James and Peta

Awkward! In the intro package for James and Peta's dance, Peta revealed that she and the Big Time Rush boy bander once went on a date. "We hit it off…and then he went on tour," she said. James' take on it? "Peta's really cool, but we're keeping things professional right now," he said. "Would I take her on a date again? Yes. But we're here for the same reason: We want to win."

They've got a decent shot at it, too. "I'm having, like, a big time crush on you. You have a natural elegance," Carrie Ann said after his and Peta's Foxtrot to One Direction's "Story of My Life." Added Len: "It was a little bit messy in places, but you gave it a go, you came out, you sold it, and I'm pleased with you."

Score: 21 out of 30 (7 from each judge)

Danica and Val

"I'm a huge fan of the show," Danica gushed. "I've been watching it since the beginning. My first impression of Val is that he's way cooler than me…There's always been something kind of 'little girl' about me, and I've seen other people go on a journey [on the show] where they kind of find their womanliness. And that's a journey I'd like to go on."

Let the journey begin! Danica ended her Foxtrot (to the Kelly Clarkson song "Walk Away") with a little peck on the lips for Bruno, who gushed that the Wonder Years actress was "so exuberant" — and a good kisser! Added Len: "You don't get a second chance at a first impression, and my first impression is terrific!"

Score: 24 out of 30 (8 from each judge)

Sean and Karina

Self-proclaimed "bad boy" Sean exceeded the judges' expectations with his and Karina's Contemporary Dance to Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know." As Bruno said, "I'm actually very surprised, because I thought you were going to be a lump of ice, but you're not."

Score: 20 out of 30 (7 each from Carrie Ann and Bruno, 6 from Len)

Billy Dee and Emma

"I'm doing pretty good for a 77-year-old, but I can't do all the things I did when I was a young lad," Star Wars actor Billy Dee said in his intro package, noting that he'd had a hip replacement (among other health issues). Added Emma: "Billy's commitment and determination is fantastic, and I feel like that's because he has something to prove." 

So did he prove it? He certainly tried! After his Star Wars-themed Cha Cha Cha — complete with Emma in Princess Leia's famous gold bikini — Len praised him for the "entertaining" routine. Carrie Ann and Bruno said, however, that they wanted him to go bigger. "You're definitely the most relaxed dancer I've ever seen," Carrie Ann began. "But I think we're gonna need a little more from you next week."

Score: 15 (5 from each judge)

Meryl and Maksim

New couple alert? In the intro package for Olympic gold medalist Meryl's dance, her partner Maks teased, "I love you and I would love to marry you, but I need to know if you and Charlie are dating first." Her thoughts on him? "Maks has that image of being kind of a bad boy," she said, "but it's really exciting." 

"Exciting" might also describe Meryl and Maks' Cha Cha Cha to Icona Pop's "All Night." As Len gushed, "You're nice on ice, but I'm tell you this — you're good on wood!"

Score: 24 out of 30 (8 from each judge)

Related: PHOTOS: Jaw-dropping DWTS makeovers

Candace and Mark

Candace, a mom of three, said in her intro package that she wouldn't be "the sexy girl" and would likely be on the more "modest" end of costuming. Luckily for her, she had plenty of sparkle and flash all on her own. Her Contemporary Dance to Ellie Goulding's "Burn" — which involved a lot of floor work — was one of the most highly praised of the night. "I was torn between ecstasy and torment," Bruno said. "You're a contemporary dancer!" Gushed Carrie Ann: "Where did that come from? I want to work with you! That was so amazing."

Score: 25 out of 30 (9 from Carrie Ann, 8 each from Len and Bruno)

Cody and Witney

At 17, Cody is the youngest of this year's competitors. Whether that works for him or against him remains to be seen — but his Cha Cha Cha with Witney to Pitbull's "Timber" was truly original. "You're like the poster couple for the energy of youth!" Bruno raved. "Fresh, cool, spunky — a lovely individual style." Both Carrie Ann and Len noted that Cody needed to work on his technique and footwork, but they, too appreciated his flair. 

Score: 22 out of 30 (8 from Bruno, 7 each from Carrie Ann and Len)

Drew and Cheryl

After losing 80 pounds, The Price Is Right host Drew is ready to test his limits. "When I was fat, I couldn't do these things," he told Cheryl in their intro package. "This is so far out of my comfort zone." That may be true, but he looked pretty at home on the dance floor, where he and Cheryl did the Foxtrot to a version of the Beatles' "Money (That's What I Want)." Carrie Ann praised him as the "crowd-pleaser" of the season, while Bruno raved that he was "so entertaining."

Score: 21 out of 30 (7 from each judge)

Related: PHOTOS: Before they were on DWTS

Amy and Derek

Derek was a little nervous when he found out that Amy would be dancing with two prosthetic legs, but his apprehension was unwarranted. "The odds have been stacked against us, but if there's anyone who's gonna defy the odds, it's Amy," he said of the Paralympian, who lost her lower limbs to meningitis. "I just won the bronze in Sochi," she added, "and now I'm going after the Mirrorball trophy."

Her fellow competitors might want to watch out. Amy and Derek's Cha Cha Cha to One Republic's "Counting Stars" brought the audience to its feet — and the judges to near tears. "You got a bronze medal in the Olympics — you got a gold medal in the Cha Cha Cha," Len gushed. Added a stunned Bruno: "Beyond belief! We have Wonder Woman in this room. I'm gobsmacked." Carrie Ann raved: "I'm in shock…You are more than a dancer or a contestant. You are a beacon of light." 

Score: 24 out of 30 (8 from each judge)

Diana and Henry

Diana has accomplished some incredible feats — last September, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida — but as Henry noted in their intro package, she's a bit of a "fish out of water" when it comes to dancing, especially when there are heels involved. That said, she managed to pull off a passable Foxtrot to "Somewhere Beyond the Sea."

Score: 18 out of 30 (6 from each judge)

Charlie and Sharna

Meryl Davis' ice-dancing partner expressed reservations in his intro package about the "expectations" he faces after winning gold at Sochi, but he needn't have worried. Carrie Ann praised his and Sharna's Contemporary Dance to Passenger's "Let Her Go" as "poetry in motion," and Len noted that it was a "good dance" for him — "like ice dancing without the ice."

Score: 27 out of 30 (9 from each judge)

Tell Us: Which star is your early favorite to win it all?