Dancing With the Stars kicked off its 18th season Monday night, introducing the 12 new partnerships, Brooke Burke replacement Erin Andrews and a number of other changes designed to keep the dancing show fresh.

Dancing With The Stars Recap

First to hit the dance floor was Real Housewives of Atlanta star, actress and author NeNe Leakes and her pro partner Tony Dovolani. Leakes and Dovolani danced a cha cha in which the former’s vivacious personality was front and center. “You have so much to give; we’re just scratching the surface,” said judge Carrie Ann Inaba after the routine. Score: 21

Next up to make his Dancing With the Stars debut was Big Time Rush singer James Maslow. When he entered the rehearsal studio, he was met with a surprised Peeta Murgatroyd, with whom he appears to have gone on a date back in February. Dancing the foxtrot, the twosome showed they have a lot of chemistry. The judges believe Maslow will be a natural in the ballroom dances. Score: 21

Also dancing a foxtrot was Wonder Years actress Danika McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy. As Andrews put it, McKellar is “geeking out” about being on DWTS, one of her favorite shows. Her enthusiasm is apparent during her ballroom routine. And though the judges suggest she tone down her facial expressions during her dances, Len Goodman says, “My first impression is terrific. Score: 24

Sean Avery, billed as the rough around the edges hockey star, teamed up with Karina Smirnoff for a contemporary routine. With some inspiration from Footloose, Avery brought a lot of intensity to the dance, which Smirnoff choreographed to showcase his undeniable strength. The judges are eager to see more from him. Score: 20

At 77, Billy Dee Williams has had two hip surgeries, making it an understatement to say that doing a cha cha was challenging for him. Emma Slater made the best of the situation, bringing in a Star Wars theme for his first – and possibly last – dance on the stage. There were Strom Troopers, an R2D2 and Ewoks, and Slater decked herself out in a revealing gold Princess Leia getup. Score: 15

Meryl Davis, one half of the gold-medal winning Olympic ice dancing team, danced a cha cha with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. It’s apparent that Davis has an advantage due to her ice dancing background, as her debut dance looks like it could have belonged in the show’s finale. Despite effusive praise from the judges table, Davis’ scores weren’t enough to best McKellar. Score: 24

Best known for playing DJ Tanner on Full House, Candace Cameron Bure is now a modest mom of three. Partnered with Mark Ballas, she took on a sensual contemporary routine. Bure has rhythm and intensity, impressing the judges and her kids who came out to support her in the audience. Score: 25

Australian singer Cody Simpson, 17, was put on the spot about his girlfriend, Gigi Hadid, by his pro partner Whitney Carson. Basically, she wants to know if Hadid’s going to get jealous by all the racy dances in their future. When it’s time to hit the stage, Simpson gives his all to a cha cha, bringing in some moves fit for a music video. The judges advise him to focus more on his footwork next time. Score: 22

Comedian Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke were tasked with a foxtrot, which Burke choreographed into a Monopoly theme. It’s a cute, but not too cute, routine that lets Carey cash in on his personality without seeming trite. The judges forsee him becoming this year’s big crowd pleaser. Score: 21

Amy Purdy, the Paralympic snowboarder with two prosthetic legs, took on a cha cha with Derek Hough in her DWTS debut. With just three days passing since Purdy’s Paralympic appearance, the two had a limited amount of time to build up their chemistry and get the routine down. The judges couldn’t have been more impressed with the performance the pair delivers. Score: 24

Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, partnered with Henry Byalikov, danced a foxtrot. Not fond of heels, but a diehard fan of the show, Nyad gave the ballroom number her all. While her effort was noted, Nyad didn’t bring enough to the dance to win over the judges or the audience. Score: 18

Last to hit the dance floor this week was Meryl Davis’ ice dancing partner Charlie White, who was paired with Sharna Burgess. While ballroom may have been an easier draw for White, he proved his versatility with his impressive contemporary routine. The contained choreography wowed the judges. Score: 27

Dancing With the Stars will send its first star home went it returns next Monday on ABC at 8/7c.

– Chelsea Regan

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