How was Rick Perry on the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ premiere? Not the worst

Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy in the season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars." 

Although the “Dancing With the Stars” premiere was completely overshadowed by the two men who stormed the stage to protest Ryan Lochte (and were later arrested), there was still a two-hour episode filled with dances from the 13 contestants. We ranked them all below, from best of the night to worst:


Laurie Hernandez/Val Chmerkovskiy (cha cha, judge score: 8, 8, 7, 8 for a total of 31 out of 40)

Age: 16

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Best known as: Member of the beloved gold medal-winning Olympics gymnastics team.

Storyline: As the youngest member of the competition, but one of the most hyped, it’s Val who is feeling the pressure to live up to the expectations.

Performance: “You just have this incredible sparkle,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba gushed. She loves that Laurie legitimately wants to learn ballroom dancing and not just rely on her gymnastics skills. Len Goodman calls it “terrific” and Julianne Hough pronounces it “an absolute real cha cha … you are the total package, girl.” She also closed out the show – should we just give her the Mirror Ball Trophy now?


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James Hinchcliffe/Sharna Burgess (foxtrot, judge score: 8,8, 7, 8 for a total of 31 out of 40)

Age: 29

Best known as: Race-car driver who got in that near-fatal crash while training for the Indy 500 last year.

Storyline: “He’s a true survivor … but can he fox trot?” (That was how host Tom Bergeron put it, anyway.) James talks about how after his terrifying accident, he realized that laughter is the best medicine. Presumably, he will laugh a lot during this competition because he has no idea how to dance. Performance: James exceeds expectations: Len says it was a terrific knockout performance while Julianne dubs a “calm, graceful, smooth, beautiful breath of fresh air.”

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Jana Kramer/ Gleb Savchenko (Viennese Waltz, judge score: 7, 6, 6, 8 for a total of 27 out of 40)

Age: 31

Best known as: An actress on “One Tree Hill” and “Entourage” or a country singer, depending on your choices of entertainment.

Storyline: Jana confesses that she’s had some bumps in her personal life, as she just separated from her husband – and hopes this show will be a good distraction. She adds that Gleb is quite easy on the eyes, so look out for them to be this season’s showmance.

Performance: Well, that was … steamy! Or as Bruno Tonioli says, “the raunchiest, sexiest, hottest Viennese Waltz I’ve ever seen.” Carrie Ann says they definitely don’t need to work on their sexiness, while Len says it was far too dramatic – not soft or flowing enough for a waltz.


Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds/Allison Holker (foxtrot, judge score: 7, 6, 6, 7 for a total of 26 out of 40)

Age: 57

Best known as: Ultra-famous R&B singer/songwriter/producer who is also the genius behind your favorite Boyz II Men power ballads. Storyline: Babyface joined the show because his mother recently passed away, and he says he wanted to do something that was out of his comfort zone that would make her proud. Expect lots of tears in these segments.

Performance: Not bad: Len urges him to work on his technique, though Carrie Ann exclaims that he “lit up the stage.” Julianne also gives him some technical pointers, but says it was timeless and a classic … just like Babyface himself.


Calvin Johnson/Lindsay Arnold (cha cha, judge score: 7, 6, 6, 7 for a total of 26 out of 40)

Age: 30 Best known as: Former NFL wide receiver for the Detroit Lions.

Storyline: Calvin can’t dance … says pretty everyone. His former teammate says he’s going to “do awful.” Even his sister has her doubts. So Calvin is determined to prove them wrong, even though his size 15 feet make dance moves more challenging.

Performance: The judges go on about his energetic spark and infectious personality, so that doesn’t bode well for his dance skills. Bruno offers that Calvin has rhythm, and Carrie Ann adds that although he has a long way to go, he had a decent debut.


Terra Jolé/Sasha Farber (jive, judge score: 7, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 25 out of 40)

Age: 36

Best known as: Reality star from Lifetime’s “Little Women: LA.”

Storyline: Tom Bergeron says Terra is the first “little person” to compete on any edition of “DWTS,” and while it’s historic, she says she feels like the underdog. “I don’t want anybody to say ‘Considering she’s a little person, she did great.’ I just want people to say ‘Terra did great,'” she says.

Performance: The judges love it. “I didn’t see a little person. I saw a huge star!” Carrie Ann raves, calling the performance “sultry.” “You’re small in stature but you’re big in heart,” Len adds. Julianne calls her a firecracker who was born to entertain.


Amber Rose/Maks Chmerkovskiy (foxtrot, judge score: 6, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 24 out of 40)

Age: 32

Best known as: Talk show host, model, and Kanye West’s ex. Their relationship comes up a lot.

Storyline: Amber and the always-volatile Maks already have a fun relationship. “I was an exotic dancer for 10 years,” she informs him during rehearsal. “It’s not that kind of show,” Maks responds. Eventually, they bond: “You’re misunderstood just like me,” Amber confides. “Everybody has a Kanye moment once in awhile,” Maks jokes. “I don’t,” Amber shoots back.

Performance: The audience loves it! The judges have some criticism. They tell Amber that she needs to loosen up and stay connected with the dance. “I was very pleasantly surprised. You have natural grace,” Bruno says. “You are stunning … you have this incredible confidence,” Carrie Ann tells her, saying she needs to trust herself.


Marilu Henner/Derek Hough (jive, judge score: 7, 7, 6, 7 for a total of 27 out of 40)

Age: 64

Best known as: Actress on “Taxi” and one of those people who has an autobiographical memory.

Storyline: Marilu has been a “totally geeked out fangirl” of the show for years and she’s obsessed with Derek. Viewers see footage of the actress losing her mind when Derek is revealed to be her partner. “You’re like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse and Sting,” she gushes to him during rehearsals. “I was going to say Jesus, but I thought that would get us in trouble.”

Performance: Len raves that Marilu’s dance was “full of energy, full of vitality,” and especially fabulous considering she was the first dancer of the night. Bruno excitedly agrees and adds that she got “most” of the steps right.


Ryan Lochte/Cheryl Burke (foxtrot, judge score: 6, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 24)

Age: 32

Best known as: The embattled Olympic swimmer who caused an international incident at the Olympics in Rio this summer after exaggerating details about an alleged robbery.

Storyline: After a summer of negative media attention, Lochte says, “I want to prove to the world that I’ve changed. It’s my second chance and I don’t want to blow it. And now, he’ll have lots of sympathy votes.

Performance: Well, the energy in the room certainly changed after the incident involving the men storming the stage. The judges agreed that he deserves a second chance after everything, even though he has some work to do segueing from his swimming skills to dance moves.

RANK: 10

Jake T. Austin/Jenna Johnson (jive, judge score: 5, 6, 5, 6 for a total of 22 out of 40)

Age: 21

Best known as: Selena Gomez’s younger brother on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

Storyline: Jake isn’t a kid anymore, OK?! He’s a very mature former child actor.

Performance: Yikes – they’re all over the place. The judges offer tepid praise about their energy but advise them to work on being more in sync, and for Jake to keep up with Jenna.

RANK: 11

Maureen McCormick/Artem Chigvintsev (Viennese waltz, judge score: 6, 5, 5, 6 for a total of 22 out of 40)

Age: 60

Best known as: Marcia Brady, obviously.

Storyline: Maureen appears to be very overwhelmed by her surroundings – or at least that’s how the show is editing her to appear, as she breaks down in tears twice during rehearsals. But don’t worry, they’re tears of joy! She’s also a longtime fan of the show.

Performance: The judges love her vulnerability. “Emotions fuel the dance,” Carrie Ann raves. Len tepidly calls the dance “well done,” though adds that her footwork and hold need some serious work.

RANK: 12

Rick Perry/Emma Slater (cha cha, judge score: 5, 5, 5, 5 for a total of 20 out of 40)

Age: 66

Best known as: Former governor of Texas who tried to run for president on the GOP ticket in 2012 and 2016.

Storyline: His daughter’s wedding is coming up, so he wants to learn some moves.

Performance: Well … he tried his best? Len calls it a little “pedestrian,” but gives him props for being there since he’s never danced before. Julianne offers that it was fun to watch, while Bruno lectures the pair on timing.

RANK: 13

Vanilla Ice/Witney Carson (cha cha, judge score: 7, 5, 6, 7 for a total of 25 out of 40)

Age: 48

Best known as: The rapper behind “Ice, ice baby.”

Storyline: He’s never seen the show, so this should be fun. He doesn’t even know what a MIRROR BALL TROPHY is, and what’s more, doesn’t even seem to care. And they’re dancing to “Ice Ice Baby” the first week, which isn’t a great sign for his long-term prospects.

Performance: Vanilla Ice doesn’t so much “cha cha” as “dance however he wants,” but the crowd goes crazy. The judges? Well, they have some issues. “There wasn’t enough cha cha cha in that routine,” Len tells him sternly. Julianne agrees there wasn’t really any cha cha. “You’re an awesome dancer, I just want to see more content next week,” she says. Bruno kindly calls the cha cha in the dance “disguised.”