Season 22 of Dancing With the Stars has begun with a lot of athletes decorating the ballroom floor this spring. From three NFL players to a female UFC fighter, the producers made sure that athletic prowess was a selling point with this season's crop.
The first week is usually fraught with nerves and missteps because, for most celebrities, dancing is a foreign language to their bodies. However, these contestants are showing up and ready to win.
The first dance of the night was The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kim Fields joining pro Sasha Farber in a cha-cha. You know it's going to be good when a star is placed in the lead-off position during the premiere week, and Fields didn't disappoint. Her legs look great, and I was impressed with her energy level.
Mark Ballas always delivers a creative bent to his choreography, and it looks like UFC fighter Paige VanZant is going to be able to keep up with him. She had an unexpected elegance that served the couple well during their fox-trot. Ballas usually gets his contestants to the latter half of the season, so they should be a couple to watch once she smooths out her footwork.
As a Boston native, it's hard not to root for the 1984 Boston College Heisman Trophy winner, Doug Flutie. The athlete is one of three NFL players on the show this season, and he has veteran Karina Smirnoff to guide him. Smirnoff kept the fox-trot classic and simple, but the likable Flutie is going to have to loosen up out there on the dance floor if he wants to stick around the competition.
Jodie Sweetin was the worst-kept secret of this season's cast, but it was interesting to see her partnered with the usually-out-early Keo Motsepe. I don't think that's going to happen with his Season 22 contender. The Fuller House star is going to have to fight against her perfectionism, but her tango was strong, and she looks beautiful out on the dance floor.
Edyta Sliwinska is back after 12 seasons away from the show, and she gets paired with Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera. He's the oldest contestant this season at 72 years old. There was a lot of filler at the beginning of the dance before he started his cha-cha, but even with a few missteps, his enthusiasm is appreciated.
Marla Maples is someone who is going to get headlines just because her ex-husband, Donald Trump, is running for president. While the timing is convenient, Maples is an experienced Broadway performer. She and pro Tony Dovolani performed a spirited Quickstep. The fit 52-year-old has gorgeous lines that will make her well-suited to the ballroom dances. She will have to work on her frame in future weeks, but this was a strong outing.
Wanya Morris from Boyz II Men and pro Lindsay Arnold might just be this season's most unexpected couple. The singer's larger-than-life personality, paired with a lightness in his footwork, made for an energetic and contemporary cha-cha. After her success with military hero Alek Skarlatos, Arnold has what it takes to give Morris a Top 4 finish.
Good Morning America's Ginger Zee is going to be a lot of fun with Val Chmerkovskiy, and the Jive proved that. I would have liked for the couple to start dancing a bit sooner, but her kicks and flicks looked good for a Week 1 dance. Chmerkovskiy will get to showcase his playful side, and it will be interesting to see Zee do some of the slower ballroom pieces.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been on my radar because his social media accounts are filled with DWTS news. He's a lot of flash, which I had hoped would translate to the dance floor with pro Sharna Burgess in the Quickstep. "Business is booming," with Brown, but he needs to rein in his adrenaline to keep his footwork from getting too sloppy.
Nyle DiMarco is the winner of America's Next Top Model Cycle 22, but most notably, he's deaf. While that may change the way his partner Peta Murgatroyd teaches, it certainly didn't stop them from doing the hottest cha-cha of the night. DiMarco will have to get his arms under control, but these two make me sweat.
Poor Mischa Barton… every photo I have seen of her in the past week shows me how scared she is to do DWTS. This show is such a hard journey, so I hope former The O.C. star pats herself on the back for getting out there and dancing live on TV. Artem Chigvintsev always takes good care of his partners, and he proved that with a simple tango. Barton needs to find some confidence in herself because she can do this.
The last spot of the night went to the Super Bowl's MVP from the Denver Broncos, Von Miller. Since this is usually a sign that the dance is hot, I expected this fox-trot with Witney Carson to be the number of the evening. It was a solid "hip-hop trot," but Miller needs a bit more oomph out there on the dance floor. I suspect the judges weren't sure what to do with him either since the scores were all over the place, too.
It was good to see grumpy Len Goodman back at the judges' table, and he didn't hold back with his comments after a season away. Next week brings a hot and smoking Latin night as the contestants hope to move their way up the leaderboard and closer to that MBT.
Alas, someone will also be going home in the first week of elimination. Geraldo Rivera probably won't be getting too comfortable in that skybox; Week 2 might be his last spin on the dance floor.
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