The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Dancing With the Stars’ premiere: Ranking the contestants from best to worst

The “DWTS” cast for Season 24. (Eric McCandless/ABC)
Placeholder while article actions load

Another season of “Dancing With the Stars,” another professional gymnast who looks destined for the Mirror Ball trophy. As the 12 celebrity hopefuls took the stage for Season 24 on Monday night, we ranked them all from best to worst:

Laurie Hernandez was always going to win ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ Here’s why.


Simone Biles/Sasha Farber (tango, judge score: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32 out of 40)
Age: 20
Best known as: Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast and member of the Final Five.
Story line: Her Final Five teammate, Laurie Hernandez, won the Mirror Ball Trophy last year. Can she do the same?
Performance: Looks like the answer is yes! A naturally gifted dancer, Simone closes the show to massive applause from the audience and judges, and becomes the obvious front-runner. “You guys are the power couple,” Carrie Ann Inaba gushes, calling it “exquisite.” Len Goodman names it the best dance of the night, and Julianne Hough agrees that Simone is the whole package. Bruno Tonioli goes with “deliciously lovely.”

The latest season of “Dancing With the Stars” features Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. She's paired with Sasha Farber. (Video: ABC)


Rashad Jennings/Emma Slater (cha cha cha, judge score: 8, 7, 8, 8, for a total of 31 out of 40)
Age: 31
Best known as: NFL running back most recently with the New York Giants, currently a free agent.
Story line: As a self-described former chubby kid with a learning disability, Rashad wants to prove he can dance. Oh, and he also wants to impress the ladies.
Performance: Rashad looks like he’s having the time of his life, and Julianne exclaims that it’s her favorite dance. Bruno calls Rashad a revelation and says he was “sparkling with star quality.” Carrie Ann is equally ecstatic. Tough critic Len says Rashad got a bit ahead of the music, but still calls it terrific. As always, professional athletes continue to crush it on “DWTS.”


Normani Kordei/Val Chmerkovskiy (quickstep, judge score: 7, 6, 7, 7 for a total of 27 out of 40)
Age: 20
Best known as: Member of Fifth Harmony, the girl group with a rabid fan base and some recent drama.
Story line: She’s eager to show the world she’s more than just a singer; and her grandma is a huge fan of the show.
Performance: Len urges more body contact between Normani and Val, but otherwise calls it a “first class” performance. Bruno exclaims that it was “crackling with energy,” while Julianne and Carrie Ann agree it was a great opening number. Given Fifth Harmony’s huge fan base, Normani could go quite far.


Heather Morris/Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Viennese waltz, judge score: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 out of 40)
Age: 30
Best known as: Brittany, the ditzy cheerleader from “Glee.”
Story line: She’s Beyonce’s former back-up singer – will people think she has an unfair advantage?
Performance: Julianne defends Heather against the haters and says ballroom dancing is very difficult, and points out that Heather will have to learn a whole new skill set. Unfair advantage or not, the judges love it: Bruno deems the performance magical and beautiful. “You are a very accomplished dancer,” Len tells Heather, adding that she and Maks are a “match made in heaven.”  Carrie Ann, however, thinks she was hiding her personality.


David Ross/Lindsay Arnold (quickstep, judge score: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 out of 40)
Age: 40
Best known as: Chicago Cubs catcher who helped lead his team to a World Series win last fall with a homerun in Game 7.
Story line: He’s not a very good dancer, but he wants to show his kids it’s okay to try something and fail. He’s also the first baseball player on the show.
Performance: Self-deprecation aside, turns out David is actually a great dancer, as well as quite charming. (As a Cleveland Indians fan, that was painful to type.) Carrie Ann declares him one of her favorites of the night, and Len and Bruno also love it — Julianne thinks the choreography was amazing and predicts David will do very well this season.


Nancy Kerrigan/Artem Chigvintsev (Viennese waltz, judge score: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 out of 40)
Age: 47
Best known as: Olympic figure skater who became world famous when she was attacked by a rival before the 1994 Olympics.
Story line: A former athlete turned stay-at-home mom, she’s excited to be competing once again.
Performance: Nancy’s many years of ice skating pay off, as she’s quite graceful. Julianne raves that it’s an honor to watch her dance, though the performance was a bit bumpy at times. Carrie Ann calls it a beautiful dance, and Len also loved it and thinks the pair has great promise. Bruno’s take is very Bruno: “I felt I was enveloped by a luxurious cashmere shawl.”


Bonner Bolton/Sharna Burgess (Cha cha, judge score: 6, 5, 5, 6 a total of 22 out of 40)
Age: 29
Best known as: A professional bull rider.
Story line: He was seriously injured a year ago when he broke his neck and was briefly paralyzed — so he wants to inspire people that anything is possible.
Performance: Carrie Ann says the couple “oozes” chemistry. Will Bonner and Sharna be this season’s fauxmance? Len isn’t quite as ecstatic, yet acknowledges that they have great chemistry and did a decent job. Julianne urges them to trust their instincts, and Bruno is full of cowboy puns (“Sharna, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime!”) until Tom Bergeron stops him.


Mr. T/Kym Johnson (cha cha cha, judge score: 5, 5, 5, 5 for a total of 20 out of 40)
Age: 64
Best known as: “I pity the fool!” Or as he introduces himself, “Hey fool, I’m Mr. T. You know me from ‘Rocky III’ and ‘The A-Team.’ ”
Story line: Mr. T just wants to be an inspiration to kids — plus, as the show’s “old guy,” he wants to prove he can conquer the competition.
Performance: Well, he tries pretty hard, even if it wasn’t technically very good. “Still the king of bling!” Bruno roars. Carrie Ann is sad that Mr. T made a lot of mistakes, but can’t wait to see what he does next week. “The ‘T’ probably doesn’t stand for technique,” Len snarks, although he admits it could stand for “try” and “tenacity.” Julianne calls him the heart of what the show is all about.


Charo/Keo Motsepe (salsa, judge score: 6, 5, 5, 5 for a total of 21 out of 40)
Age: 66
Best known as: A legend, of course — also a comedian, actress and singer with her trademark phrase “cuchi cuchi.”
Story line: She’s just here to have a blast!
Performance: Seriously, does anyone have as much fun as Charo has doing anything? Julianne loves it: “You were hot, girl!” Len goes with an “action-packed performance” and urges her to focus more on technique next time. Carrie Ann agrees, though she loves her energy level. Charo is quite thrilled with this feedback, and gets carried away until Tom Bergeron reminds her he has a show to host.

RANK: 10

Erika Jayne/Gleb Savchenko (salsa, judge score: 6, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 24 out of 40)
Age: 45
Best known as: “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member and a “dance-pop diva.”
Story line: She wants to prove that a 45-year-old woman can kill it in a dance competition and she will not hold back: “Of course I’m a little raunchy, but that’s who I am.”
Performance: Erika salsas to her own dance-pop single (“Xxpen$ive”). Len compliments her flair and confidence, but thinks the performance was “too raunchy.” Julianne disagrees and says Erika proves women should flaunt their sensuality. Bruno and Carrie Ann criticize Erika’s balance, though Carrie Ann also says it was fabulous and that Erika should try to break out of her comfort zone next week.

RANK: 11

Nick Viall/Peta Murgatroyd (cha cha cha, judge score: 6, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 24 out of 40)
Age: 36
Best known as: The most recent “Bachelor” who looked for love on the franchise four times before he finally got engaged last week.
Story line: Unclear, other than Nick wants to extend his reality show fame for as long as humanly possible.
Performance: “Just another Monday night on ABC, right?” Tom Bergeron asks Nick, taking a quick jab at his many, many appearances on ABC reality shows. Julianne says Nick needs to improve his footwork, while Carrie Ann urges him to calm down because the whole thing was disjointed. Len acknowledges Nick has some first-week jitters but thinks there’s room for improvement.

RANK: 12

Chris Kattan/Witney Carson (cha cha cha, judge score: 5, 4, 4, 4 for a total of 17 out of 40)
Age: 46
Best known as: The “Saturday Night Live” cast member; also the star of “A Night at the Roxbury.”
Story line: Usually when he’s dancing, he’s trying to make people laugh — so can he succeed in a real dance competition?
Performance: Chris dances to “What Is Love” from “A Night at the Roxbury.” As Bruno says, it was perfect! Well, sort of: “It was the perfect interpretation of a cha cha cha with a hangover,” he explains. Ouch. Carrie Ann offers that it was “fun,” and Julianne says he totally owned the dance by embracing his personality, which is a nice way of saying it was terrible. Len doesn’t mince words: “The best thing about that cha cha is I haven’t got to watch it again.”

More from Arts & Entertainment:

Should country singers speak up about politics and Trump? We asked them.

Trevor Noah says Omarosa Manigault ‘bailed’ on ‘The Daily Show’ at the last minute

Let’s talk ‘Big Little Lies’ theories