Season 16 of "Dancing With the Stars" premiered tonight on ABC, and the 12 celebrity contestants and their pro partners started their run for the mirror ball trophy with dances that judges mostly deemed good.
Disney star Zendaya Coleman was a standout, earning 24 out of a possible 30 points and the top spot on the leaderboard. Comedian D.L. Hughley finished at the bottom of the pack, with 12 out of a possible 30 points.
The stars will dance again on March 25, and those scores will be combined with their scores from tonight. The star with the lowest overall total will be cut from the competition during the first results show of the season on March 26.
Kellie Pickler: The country singer and her pro partner Derek Hough performed a spunky cha-cha that had the three judges' approval. Head judge Len Goodman told Pickler that the routine was fun. He pointed out that her legs were "a little bit stiff" but added: "I'm telling you, great start to season 16. Well done!" Judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba agreed that Pickler showed promise. "I thought that was fantastic. You have incredible torso movement, my darling … I think you've got sass and you've got class," Inaba said. Pickler earned 21 out of a possible 30 points.
Victor Ortiz: All three judges were pleased by the jaunty foxtrot delivered by the world champion boxer and his partner, new dance pro Lindsay Arnold. "What a wonderful combination of boyish charm and Latino passion, and I tell you, for a heavy hitter, you're surprisingly light-footed," Tonioli said, and even though he told Ortiz to work on improving his frame and controlling his arm movements, he added: "I'm telling you, you did well, you did very well." Inaba said it was nice to see the charming and debonair side of Ortiz. Goodman was the least impressed by Ortiz. He said the dance was "a little uneventful," but added that he liked the routine. Ortiz earned 18 points.
Ingo Rademacher: Contemporary routines were added as a new category to the show, and the soap opera star and partner Kym Johnson performed the first such routine in the show's history. The performance resulted in the judges' first real disagreement of the night. Tonioli and Inaba praised the performance. Inaba said Rademacher showed athleticism in doing the many lifts of the routine, but added that he maintained his connection to his partner and the music. Tonioli, too, though the routine was good, but Goodman strongly disagreed. "I'm not convinced about that performance at all," he said. "I'm going to be honest with you. I saw the lifts. Kym, your feet were in the air more than they were on the floor. OK, you can do lifts. I want to see you come out and do dance …," he said. Rademacher earned 20 points.
Lisa Vanderpump: "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star and her pro partner, Gleb Savchenko, didn't bowl the judges over with their safe foxtrot. At times it seemed Vanderpump was stumbling. "Well, it was acceptable but it wasn't exceptional. I'm afraid there was too much staggering about going on," Goodman said. Tonioli said her lines were good, and Inaba said the dance suited Vanderpump, calling it "very nice and easy on the eyes." Vanderpump earned 18 points.
D.L. Hughley: The comedian's cha cha cha with pro partner Cheryl Burke left the judges flat. They urged him to do better at his next performance. Tonioli said Hughley had "terminated the cha cha cha," adding that Hughley's performance lacked time and seemed under-rehearsed. Inaba seemed at a loss for words: "I have some bad news, that was yikes - whoa! It was just - you've got to go back to work and practice a little harder for next week," she said. Goodman's review was the toughest: "Listen, if any dance is going to suit you, it's got to be the cha cha cha, and to be honest with you, this was rough and ready," Goodman said, adding: "This was no good." Hughley earned 12 points, the lowest of the night.
Zendaya Coleman: The Disney star is the youngest performer on the show but her performance with partner Val Chmerkovskiy had judges raving. Calling the performance "amazing" and "beautiful," Inaba told Coleman that she was a fantastic dancer. Goodman said it was great, adding that he never thought he'd say that for a week one performance. Tonioli said Coleman's debut was "superb… It's so inspiring to see such a young girl doing so well, and such wonderful choreography." Coleman earned 24 points, the highest of the night.
Sean Lowe: Judges said Lowe, the star of ABC's "The Bachelor," needed to have more refinement and finesse in his foxtrot with pro partner Peta Murgatroyd, but they praised his enthusiasm. "Well, I liked it. I didn't like it a lot, but I liked certain parts," Goodman said, adding that Lowe's posture and footwork were good but the quality of movement needed improvement. Inaba said Lowe had a "fearless enthusiasm" that would take him far in the competition. Lowe earned 19 points.
Aly Raisman: The champion gymnast and her pro partner, Mark Ballas, performed a flirty cha cha cha and judges like it. "I'm very impressed," Tonioli told her, but he noted that she needed to straighten the back of her knee more. Goodman also said Raisman's legs needed to be "a little bit crisper," but thought she did well. Inaba said she saw potential in Raisman. "You're definitely not afraid to get out there and go for it. … I feel like that was a little safe for you. You can push it just a little more," she said, adding that Raisman should focus on keeping in sync with the music. Judges awarded Raisman 21 points.
Dorothy Hamill: Judges liked the expressiveness of the Olympic ice skating legend's contemporary routine with pro partner Tristan MacManus. "Such a beautiful dance. Well done," Goodman said. Tonioli told Hamill that her connection to her partner was clear, and while he acknowledged that she had a "few balance issues," he said that she would get stronger with time. "You told the story beautifully," he said. Hamill earned 21 points.
Wynonna Judd: The country music legend danced a sassy cha cha cha with her pro partner Tony Dovolani. Tonioli and Inaba commended Judd, but told her some of her movements needed to be bigger. Goodman said he understood the nerves of a first night performance, but praised Judd. "The cha cha cha is not an easy dance," he said. " You've got to be sharp, you've got to be clean, but you've also got to show rhythm and personality and I thought overall you showed that. It was a little bit careful here and there but … I thought you came out and did a very good performance." Judd earned 18 points.
Andy Dick: The comedian and his pro partner, Sharna Burgess, performed a foxtrot that judges found unconventional. Tonioli said Dick's performance was twitchy but had "skittish charm … It could have been much, much smoother. I really enjoyed it in a very crazy way," he said. Inaba said she found something "quite charming" about Dick's performance, but encouraged him to work on his "pancake hands and the pancake feet." Saying the foxtrot needed to be smooth and fluid, Goodman said Dick's foxtrot "had the fluidity of RoboCop … ." Dick earned 17 points.
Jacoby Jones: The NFL player and pro partner Karina Smirnoff delivered a crowd-pleasing performance, but judges had mixed reviews. "Jacoby, you've got the moves, man!" an enthusiastic Inaba said. Goodman was less impressed. "Well, it was all icing and no cake. I'm telling you this was all performance-driven. The technique was terrible." All three judges said Jones needed to improve his posture and footwork. They awarded Jones 20 points.
Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy: 24
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 21
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: 21
Dorothy Hamill and Tristan MacManus: 21
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: 20
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 20
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd: 19
Victor Ortiz and Lindsey Arnold: 18
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko: 18
Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani: 18
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess: 17
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke: 12