Behind the scenes at 'Dancing with the Stars' final dress rehearsal before season premiere

Season 24 of the heated dancing competition begins tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

March 20, 2017, 8:23 AM

— -- The highly anticipated season 24 premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" airs tonight on ABC, and "Good Morning America" took a behind-the-scenes look with former competitor Alfonso Ribeiro at the final dress rehearsal before the show gets underway.

Newly engaged Nick Viall jumped from one reality show to the next and has already drawn comparisons between "DWTS" and "The Bachelor."

"You just — all you want to do is not go home Night 1," he said, laughing.

The dance competition is expected to be an intense battle from the beginning. Dance music and reality TV star Erika Jayne and her pro partner, Gleb Savchenko, said they've set some high stakes.

Jayne said they "didn't come here to lose" and promised to give him one of her cars if they win. "If I win, I'm getting a Lamborghini," Savchenko said with a smile. "I promised," Jayne confirmed.

Dancing veteran Witney Carson — Ribeiro's former partner — will be paired up with former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Chris Kattan.

Spanish-born music and pop culture icon Charo will step out in the spotlight with her partner, Keo Mostepe. Luckily for hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, Charo will not be going by her full name, Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baez.

NFL star running back Rashad Jennings is trading in his touchdown dances for full length routines this season and said the main difference between the field and the stage is "I can't hide my emotions, I can't hide behind a helmet."

Seasoned pros Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd welcomed their first child, son Shai, in January, and their new dance partners said being parents has changed the power couple. "Glee" star Heather Morris said, "Maks has been softened."

"He comes in, and he talks about his child, laughing and smiling," she added.

Viall said of his dancing partner, Murgatroyd, "She's incredibly patient. I think maybe that's that maternal instinct she has now." She agreed she's a little more sensitive with her partner, saying, "If I, like, hit him, I'll say, 'Oh, my God, are you OK?'"

But for her, the toughest part of preparing for this season was getting back into shape. She said, "That was tough, getting the body back. It's still not back, but I'm going out there anyway."

American former figure skater and Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan said she feels "nervous" about being back in the spotlight. "It's so different," she said about swapping her skates for dancing shoes. "I mean, it's like putting on old shoes, and I'm not sure they fit anymore. You know, 'cause normally I'm just home being mom."

Another Olympian taking to the dance floor this season is one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of the sport, 19-year-old Simone Biles. She joked that if she and her partner, Sasha Farber, take home the coveted mirror ball trophy, it probably won't make it onto her mantel. "I think my mom would put it in the safe with the rest of the gold medals, just in case," she said.

Sharna Burgess and her partner, Bonner Bolton, a professional bull rider turned fashion model, have practiced every move down to minute details. "We got the sexy face down," she said as she gave her best smolder.

Mr. T told Ribeiro, "I trained hard, fool!" He added that he "just danced down the street and everything."

The dancers debut their moves tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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