Dancing With the Stars Season 19 Premiere Recap: First Dances Bring Gaffes, Greatness

Janel Parrish, Alfonso Ribiero, Lolo Jones and Antonio Sabato Jr.
See how Janel Parrish, Alfonso Ribeiro, Lolo Jones, Antonio Sabato Jr., and other celebs fared on the season 19 premiere of Dancing With the Stars  ABC/Craig Sjodin

One dance down, so many more to go! Dancing With the Stars kicked off its 19th season on Monday, Sept. 15, with a two-hour whirlwind of cha chas, foxtrots, and jives. Making their debut in the ballroom were celebs including Janel Parrish, Alfonso Ribeiro, Lolo Jones, and Antonio Sabato Jr., with new and returning pros like Derek Hough, Karina Smirnoff, Cheryl Burke, and Val Chmerkovskiy. Julianne Hough joined the show, too, in her new role as a judge. Let's recap! (Spoilers ahead, obviously.)

Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke

Cheryl hasn't won a Mirrorball since season three, and she's hoping Antonio will be her return ticket to the finals. He's got a lot going for him in terms of sex appeal, but his footwork and his hip action need a little finessing. "I'm hipless. It's like I've never used them before," he complains, prompting Cheryl to quip, "I'm sure you've used them. You have three kids."

The judges weren't thrilled by Cheryl and Antonio's foxtrot (to Enrique Iglesias' "Tonight I'm Lovin' You"), but they appreciated the soap opera alum's enthusiasm. "It's obvious that you've got dancing in your blood. Unfortunately it hasn't reached your feet," veteran ballroom judge Len Goodman noted. Added newbie Julianne Hough: "Beautiful, beautiful smile…but I would have to agree with Len. It was a little flat-footed." 

Score: 25 out of 40 (7 from Bruno Tonioli, 6 from everyone else) 

Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev

Before she gained fame in the classic '80s flick Back to the Future, Lea was a ballerina in a company run by Mikhail Baryshnikov, who told her she was a beautiful dancer but "too stocky." She clearly still has rhythm, though. All four judges loved her foxtrot to "Everlasting Love," with Julianne praising her "spectacular lines," and Carrie Ann Inaba calling it "one of the best first foxtrots" she's ever seen. Len even made a Back to the Future joke, saying her future on the show was "rosy."

Score: 32 out of 40 (8 from everyone)

Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy

Pretty Little Liars star Janel was thrilled to find out she's partnered with Val. "I was very excited, because I think he's one of the best dancers on the show," she gushed in her intro package. "And I love his swag."

That swag was on full display during the couple's jive to "Bang Bang." Bruno praised it as "spicy hot" and compared Janel to J.Lo, while Carrie Ann gushed that she had "great potential" but needed to "shape down" her kicks and flips. Len, meanwhile, noted that the jive is a tough dance for week one, and raved that Janel was "sharp and clean" for most of the routine. 

Score: 29 out of 40 (8 from Bruno, 7 from everyone else)

Lolo Jones and Keo Motsepe

Given how well Olympians have done in past seasons of DWTS, expectations were high for Lolo. Unfortunately, because of a technical hiccup at the beginning of her cha cha routine with Keo, she lost her timing and struggled to get back on the beat. "Lolo. Truthfully, that was more like an oh-oh," Carrie Ann quipped.

The athlete's worst critic, though, was herself. "It was awful. Every practice was better than what just happened," she said. "I'm so mad." Len attempted to make her feel better by praising her personality and "sizzle," but Lolo wasn't having it. After receiving her scores, she told Tom Bergeron's co-host Erin Andrews that she expected ones from all the judges. 

Score: 22 out of 40 (6 from Carrie Ann and Len, 5 from Julianne and Bruno)

Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovolani

Like Lolo before her, fashion designer Betsey ran into a little snafu with her prop (a boa). Up until that point, though, the judges loved her cha cha to (what else?) "Material Girl." And despite what Len called the "disaster with the boa," she finished strong — with her trademark cartwheel into the splits. "Girl, you are flexible!" Julianne exclaimed.

It's unclear whether the cartwheel was planned or improvised, but it's likely we'll see some surprises this season. "Working with Betsey, the biggest challenge will be her unpredictability," Tony mused. "I think if you open her mind, there's a circus in there."

Score: 20 out of 40 (5 from everyone) 

Tavis Smiley and Sharna Burgess

All four judges loved Tavis and Sharna's foxtrot. Carrie Ann joked that he had a little "baby beast" inside of him, while Bruno gushed that the talk show host's joyful side "burst…like a ray of sunshine." Len, meanwhile, raved that Tavis was "nifty for 50" and "had a lot of razzamatazz."

Score: 29 out of 40 (8 from Julianne, 7 from everyone else)

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas

Duck Dynasty star Sadie might be the one to beat this season! Despite never having danced before — dancing isn't even allowed at her school — the A&E standout aced her cha cha with two-time champion Mark. "Duckling no more! Here we've got a bird of paradise!" Bruno exclaimed. "I'm telling you, I am gobsmacked." Added Len: "Quack, quack, you'll be back. I'll see you next week — there's no way you're going home."

Score: 34 out of 40 (8 from Carrie Ann and Len, 9 from Julianne and Bruno) 

Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater

Race car driver Michael has personality to spare, but his dancing isn't quite up to speed yet. "The engine was running, but you never got out of first gear," Len said of his and Emma's cha cha. "It was all too tight." Added Bruno: "You looked a little bit like a golf cart." (What does that even mean?)

Michael blamed his troubles on his costume, a one-piece jumpsuit that gave him a "wedgie." But he promised to come back stronger next week (if he makes the cut on Tuesday). 

Score: 25 out of 40 (7 from Carrie Ann, 6 from everyone else)

Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker

DWTS is about more than a Mirrorball for Mean Girls actor Jonathan. As the star revealed in his intro package with So You Think You Can Dance alum Allison, he lost his dad two months ago, and his dad's favorite show was Dancing With the Stars. "Ever since he died, I've felt like the spark inside me is gone," he said, fighting back tears during rehearsal. "And already I feel better."

Jonathan's passion for the show was clear in his jive routine, which Julianne praised as "grool" — a reference to a line from Mean Girls combining the words "great" and "cool." Afterward, he raved, "That was the most fun I've ever had in my whole life."

Score: 30 out of 40 (8 from Carrie Ann and Bruno, 7 from Len and Julianne)

Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd

Tommy Chong — the "original stoner" — joined DWTS because his buddy Cheech (the other half of Cheech & Chong) bet him he couldn't. Cheech ate his words, though, when Chong nailed his cha cha to "Drop It Like It's Hot." Raved Julianne: "You are extremely sexy. You have the moves like nobody's business. You're like Rico Suave!" Added Carrie Ann: "You were funkier than Bruno! You killed it!"

Score: 27 out of 40 (6 from Len, 7 from everyone else)

Randy "The Natural" Couture and Karina Smirnoff

Mixed martial arts hall-of-famer Randy got off to a rough start with Karina, but they had a breakthrough during rehearsal and ultimately performed a very elegant foxtrot. "I pride myself on being professional, but I got a little weak in the knees!" Carrie Ann said, fanning herself. Quipped Julianne: "Randy, you're making me randy!"

Score: 31 out of 40 (7 from Len, 8 from everyone else)

Bethany Mota and Derek Hough

YouTube sensation Bethany got lucky with five-time champion Derek, who choreographed an energetic jive to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." Carrie Ann called the internet star "effervescent," while Julianne described her as "sunshine in a box." Their one note to her was to watch her energy levels.

Score: 32 out of 40 (8 from everyone)?

Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson

Fresh Prince alum Alfonso — who had his own signature dance move, "The Carlton," on the '90s sitcom — complained during his intro package that he was having trouble keeping up with Witney during rehearsals. He showed no signs of distress in performance, though; Len called his jive "the best dance of the night," while Julianne praised his musicality and showmanship. Bruno, meanwhile, said it best when he quipped, "The prince of Bel Air? You are the king of the night!"

Score: 36 out of 40 (9 from everyone)

Tune in to DWTS on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. to find out which couple will be eliminated first.

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