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‘Dancing With The Stars’ Premiere: Carole Baskin Makes A Tiger-Themed Debut

Jill O'Rourke

Jill O'Rourke

Dancing with the Stars Season 29 premiered on Monday night, as we found out which pro dancers were paired with which celebrities. This season’s lineup includes Tiger King star Carole Baskin and rapper Nelly.


The episode opened with a montage of the pro dancers arriving at the studio and performing to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. New host Tyra Banks then stepped out in a dramatic red dress.

This season also features a new judge. Former pro dancer Derek Hough is sitting on the panel in place of previous judge Len Goodman — who wasn’t able to travel due to the pandemic.

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Because of COVID-19 precautions, the show was without an audience, but the sound of applause could be heard throughout the night. Voting will open next week, as the show airs on a special Tuesday night. For now, check out the stars’ first performances below, along with their total judges’ scores.

AJ McLean & Cheryl Burke

This member of the Backstreet Boys has never done ballroom dancing before. Tonight, AJ and Cheryl performed the jive to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights.” Derek called it a great start to the show, while Bruno Tonioli encouraged him to polish things. Carrie Ann Inaba said his moves should be “bigger.”

Total Score: 18


Chrishell Stause & Gleb Savchenko

This former soap opera star now appears on Netflix series Selling Sunset. For their first performance, Chrishell and Gleb performed the tango to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass.” Carrie Ann said she has potential, but got knocked off her feet early. Derek pointed out that she’s pigeon-toed, so she’ll have to work on that.

Total Score: 13

Vernon Davis & Peta Murgatroyd

This former NFL player showed off his touchdown dance for partner Peta. Tonight, they danced the foxtrot to John Legend’s “All of Me.” Carrie Ann complimented his stage presence, but docked a point for a lift. Bruno, meanwhile, praised their chemistry.

Score: 17

Anne Heche & Keo Motsepe

This actress, known for Seven Days and Seven Nights, danced the cha-cha to Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now.” Derek said she made him smile, but advised her to finish one move before going to the next. Bruno called it “crisp” and “clean,” but told her to add more “hip action.”

Score: 18

Jeannie Mai & Brandon Armstrong

This co-host of The Real has been watching the show since Season 1. She and Brandon performed the salsa to “Tell It to My Heart” by Taylor Dayne. Bruno called Jeannie a “ray of sunshine.” Carrie Ann said she’s on a “fantastic path.” Derek praised them for doing a lift on the first week.

Score: 18

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Jesse Metcalfe & Sharna Burgess

This actor known for Desperate Housewives said he’s ready to “raise the bar.” He and Sharna danced the quickstep to “Part-Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder. Carrie Ann said he’s “a little wild,” but she loved their chemistry. Bruno said it’s a hard dance to do in the first week, and he “did well.”

Score: 18

Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten

This Disney Channel actress is the youngest star in the competition at 18 years old. She and reigning champion Alan danced the tango to “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj. Derek praised the split she did, while Bruno said “the sky is the limit” for her. Carrie Ann said they dealt well with their height difference.

Score: 21

Kaitlyn Bristowe & Artem Chigvintsev

This former Bachelorette star was the first Dancing with the Stars contestant announced this year. Tonight, she and Artem danced the cha-cha to “Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga. Bruno praised the foot placement, while Carrie Ann wanted Kaitlyn to point her feet more. Derek said it was “safe” this week, but that she has potential.

Score: 20

Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson

This host of the MTV series Catfish used to be part of a dance troupe. Tonight, he and Jenna performed the foxtrot to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. Carrie Ann said it transported her back in time, advising Nev to smooth his rise and fall. Bruno encouraged him to maintain his posture throughout.

Score: 20

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Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart

This figure skater insists that his sport is different from ballroom dancing, in that he doesn’t usually have a partner. He and new pro Britt danced the cha-cha to “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls. Derek encouraged him to stay confident throughout the performance. Carrie Ann said Johnny should have been on the show years ago.

Score: 18

Justina Machado & Sasha Farber

This actress from Netflix’s One Day at a Time danced the cha-cha to “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. Bruno praised her confidence and musicality. Carrie Ann said she was “on fire” and got her out of her seat dancing with her. Derek said she was “oozing charisma.”

Score: 21

Charles Oakley & Emma Slater

This former NBA star is 6’9″ tall. He and Emma danced the salsa to “In Da Club” by 50 Cent. Carrie Ann pointed out that Charles was ahead of the music, telling him to listen more. Derek agreed, but said he felt Charles’ joy. Bruno said he “got into the spirit of it,” calling it a “teaser.”

Score: 12

Monica Aldama & Val Chmerkovskiy

This head coach on Netflix series Cheer says cheerleading is a lot different from ballroom dancing. She and Val danced the foxtrot to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. Derek said she was “graceful,” but told her to watch her turns. Carrie Ann praised her for really going for it.

Score: 19

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Nelly & Daniella Karagach

This famous rapper teamed up with partner Daniella to dance the salsa to his own song “Ride Wit Me.” Bruno praised their connection but encouraged Nelly to loosen up his shoulders. Carrie Ann was surprised by the backflip he did. Derek advised him not to wear sneakers for future performances.

Score: 16

Carole Baskin & Pasha Pashkov

This star of the Netflix documentary Tiger King says she has “absolutely zero dance experience.” She and Pasha danced the pasodoble to “Eye of the Tiger,” while wearing tiger print. Carrie Ann praised Carole for not holding back, but advised her to drop her shoulders. Derek said she “smashed it.” Bruno said he wants to hear her roar.

Score: 11

Do you agree with the judges’ scores for this first night of the competition? Which star do you think had the best moves? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Jill O'Rourke
Jill O’Rourke is a contributor at Talent Recap, writing news stories and recaps for shows like ‘AGT,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘American Idol.’ She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and Film Studies, and has been writing about pop culture since 2012, with previous bylines at Crushable and A Plus. Jill spends her free time binge-watching sitcoms and daydreaming about life as a hobbit

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