‘Dancing with the Stars’ season 30 premiere recap: Which celebrities stood out on first night of competition? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The “Dancing with the Stars” season 30 premiere was Monday night, September 20. The show invited a new cast of 15 celebrities from the worlds of film, TV, music, sports, and social media. So who stood out as potential front-runners? Who seemed out of their depth? And who do you think will win the Mirror Ball Trophy when all is said and done? Scroll down for our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments and commentary throughout the night.

This year’s cast includes country singer Jimmie Allen, former Spice Girls singer Melanie C, “Bling Empire” star Christine Chiu, “Beverly Hills, 90210” alum Brian Austin Green, “The Office” actress Melora Hardin, social media star (and notorious college applicant) Olivia Jade, “Bachelor” star Matt James, “The Talk” co-host and Broadway performer Amanda Kloots, “Karate Kid” and “Cobra Kai” actor Martin Kove, Olympic gymnast Suni Lee, WWE pro wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, “Real Housewives” star Kenya Moore, Peloton fitness instructor Cody Rigsby, basketball player Iman Shumpert, and YouTube star and singer JoJo Siwa.

Of those, all eyes were on Siwa, who makes history as the first contestant to dance with a same-sex partner. And fresh off of winning the Olympic gold medal in the women’s all-around competition, Lee is hoping to follow in the “DWTS” gymnastic footsteps of past Mirror Ball champions Shawn Johnson and Laurie Hernandez. They and the rest of the cast are being scored by returning judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, as well as Len Goodman, who’s back after having to sit out last season due to the COVID pandemic, and Derek Hough, who filled in for Goodman last year but is sticking around as a full-time panelist. Also back for season 30 is host Tyra Banks, who joined the cast last year after the surprise firing of Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.

Who are you rooting for this year? Follow along below as we dish the premiere episode. (Times listed below are Eastern.)

Jeffrey Kare, 8:00pm — Here we go for season 30!

Daniel Montgomery, 8:02pm — Nice retrospective intro clip package showing showing highlights from the last 29 seasons, followed of course by Tyra Banks in a gown made out of a Mirror Ball.

DM, 8:04pm — I hope the stars dance better with their partners than they do standing in place during that intro.

Melanie C and Gleb Savchenko (Cha Cha)

DM, 8:05pm — Mel C is teamed with Gleb. I have high hopes for this combination. Mel C looks like she’s still quite sporty, so I have a feeling she’ll be able to keep with the pace of this show.

JK, 8:07pm — What nice high energy to start off the season with.

DM, 8:07pm — Not a bad start for the Spice Girl, she seems top have the rhythm, strength, and posture to make it far in the competition if she can bring even more personality into the routines.

JUDGES — Len thought it was a “terrific” and “polished” performance with “great choreography.” Derek called it “clean” and “precise,” and Melanie has incredible leg lines. Bruno says, “Thank you for spicing up my life,” but she needs more pronounced hip action. Carrie Ann thought it was “clean,” though she could loosen up a bit.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7), Derek (6), Bruno (7) = 27

JK, 8:10pm — Almost quadruple 7’s for the first score of the night.

The Miz and Witney Carson (Cha Cha)

DM, 8:11pm — Another highly promising combo of star and dancer. He’s got the personality, and she’s won the Mirror Ball Trophy before.

JK, 8:13pm — They’ve already got some slick moves down.

DM, 8:13pm — A little rough around the edges, but he’s not too bad with choreography for his first night out.

JUDGES — Derek was “surprised,” thought he would be “stiff,” but he had good flow. Bruno thought Witney “tamed the beast,” “light on his feet,” but “a bit flat-footed.” Carrie Ann thought he was “incredible” with “ridiculous” energy, though he hit some of the moves “too hard,” which made it a little awkward. Len thought it was “better than expected.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (6), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 24

JK, 8:16pm — I think that’s a fair score for them.

DM, 8:16pm — A solid start in his scores too. I kinda thought the judges would be a little tougher with those numbers on night one, but I think those numbers were fair too.

Iman Sumpert and Daniella Karagach (Jive)

DM, 8:19pm — Always worried for a basketball player on this show. The height difference with their dance partners is always a struggle. Daniella even pointed it out the moment she meant him. And jive is a tough, fast-pace style for night one.

DM, 8:22pm — I’m very very surprised by how good that was. His timing was great!

JK, 8:23pm — That provided a ton of high bopping fun.

JUDGES — Bruno points out that it’s hard for a tall person to jive, but Iman was “nimble,” but he needs to work on his feet with the kicks and flicks, though it was a “great debut.” Carrie Ann thought it was “fly” and “ridiculous” (in a good way), “stylish” and “smooth.” Len thought it was “too casual, too loose,” and “the technique was poor.” Derek thought he looked “comfortable,” with issues with the content, but good for the first week.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (4), Derek (5), Bruno (5) = 21

DM, 8:24pm — Damn, that Len score was waaaaaay too low.

JK, 8:24pm — Agreed.

Olivia Jade and Val Chmerkovskiy (Salsa)

DM, 8:25pm — I’m not sure how I feel about the redemption narrative they’re aiming for with Olivia after the Operation Varsity Blues scandal, but the show gave her a damn lucky draw for her partner, one of the show’s top champions.

JK, 8:27pm — Controversy surrounding her aside, I thought Olivia managed to pull off such strong work with Val.

DM, 8:28pm — Another surprise. I think Olivia Jade is a contender for the win if she can get viewer support. A lot of content in that routine, and she pretty much nailed it, especially for week one.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann thought it was “well done” with “great lines” and “great legs.” Len wanted it to be “more spicy,” but it was “clean, clear, and polished.” Derek thinks she has so much potential as a performer, but she needs to “watch the shoulders” to show off her confidence. Bruno thinks she took to dancing “like a duck to water,” though he agreed it needed more spice.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (6), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 25

DM, 8:30pm — I kinda thought those scores would be a little higher, closer to what we saw from Melanie C.

JK, 8:30pm — Me too.

Jimmie Allen and Emma Slater (Tango)

DM, 8:33pm — He tells Emma he wants to “an ambassador for country music” and also wants to win. She won with Rashad Jennings, but I don’t have any clear early expectations for their chemistry as partners.

DM, 8:35pm — Not the most polished, but he was on the beat, had a lot of personalities, a promising start.

JK, 8:36pm — Almost outstanding!

JUDGES — Len didn’t think the dance suits Jimmie’s personality, but he’s got “great potential.” Derek thought he had an “incredible week one frame,” though he needs to work on being more “consistent.” Bruno thought he managed to “keep the tango on track.” It had good moments, but it was uneven. Carrie Ann thought it was a tough dance style with a lot of specificity, but it was a good first dance.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Derek (6), Bruno (5) = 22

DM, 8:38pm — Those scores were fair for that dance.

Melora Hardin and Artem Chigvintsev (Tango)

DM, 8:43pm — She loved ballet as a child, so she has the potential to be bringing some prior skill to the show. And she thinks Artem smells good, so that’s a plus.

JK, 8:45pm — Alright performance. I think they both could definitely use some work.

DM, 8:45pm — Pretty decent start for Melora, she could clean it up some there.

JUDGES — Derek gives her a standing ovation, he was “blown away” and she had “light and shade.” Bruno thought she had “great lines, great placement,” but she lost balance from time to time. Carrie Ann thought she “brought the drama” and the “beautiful lines.” Len “liked it, no messing, no stressing … Well done.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (6), Derek (7), Bruno (6) = 26

DM, 8:47pm — Interesting, I thought this dance would score a little lower, but I like Melora a lot, so I’m not mad at it.

DM, 8:49pm — I’m impressed that so far everyone tonight has been right on beat, no one really that messy. A solid group of dancers.

Suni Lee and Sasha Farber (Cha Cha)

DM, 8:50pm — “I wanted you so bad!” says Suni when she meets Sasha. He previously teamed with Simone Biles and Mary Lou Retton. I think this could be a great partnership, but Sasha notes that Suni is a little timid. Hopefully she can break out of her shell, but I think Sasha is a good partner to help her do that.

DM, 8:52pm — Solid from Suni. She’s got all the right moves, but she needs the energy and enthusiasm– Solid from Suni. She’s got all the right moves, but she needs the energy and enthusiasm.

JK, 8:53pm — Very lively and upbeat.

JUDGES — Bruno loved the flicks and kicks, but she mustn’t look at the floor. Carrie Ann thinks she’s “incredible” for Latin and ballroom dancing, but she needs to not prepare each move. It needs to look more flowing. Len felt it was “neat” and “precise,” but it needs to be more “free.” Derek suggests “a little less perfection and a little more expression.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7), Derek (7), Bruno (7) = 28

DM, 8:56pm — Highest score of the night so far, no surprise since she has that built-in gymnastics polish.

Cody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke (Tango)

DM, 8:59pm — Cody’s potential depends on his dance skills and how many audience members who don’t own Peloton bikes know who he is. He says he used to be a dancer, though, and he’s got the outsize personality that will help him gain new fans.

DM, 9:01pm — Not sure tango was an ideal dance from Cody. He looked a little awkward in hold.

JK, 9:02pm — It was at least physical.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann thought he was too “tight” and “taut” and needs to relax. Len thought he had “great presence” with “a lot of promise,” but he needs to keep his head up. But he’s “one to watch.” Derek felt he needed to “isolate the top half from the bottom half” for the ballroom routines. Bruno loved the “attitude.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (6), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 24

DM, 9:03pm — Those numbers were a little higher than I expected. I thought we’d see a couple of 5s in there.

Amanda Kloots and Alan Bersten (Tango)

DM, 9:04pm — She was a Broadway performer for 17 years, so she’s going to have the dance skills, and I suspect fans will be on her side after her struggle this past year losing her husband Nick Cordero to COVID-19.

JK, 9:06pm — Amanda and Alan’s first performance — incredibly energetic!

DM, 9:07pm — Yep, she’s gonna be a big contender if she can bring those viewer votes in.

JUDGES — Len thought it “was full of tango content” with “attack” and “confidence.” Derek thought it was “unbelievable” with her “finesse” and “frame.” Bruno says, “You belong here. That was a beauty,” with a lot of “details in the interpretation.” Carrie Ann says, “You brought tears to my eyes.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7), Derek (7), Bruno (7) = 28

DM, 9:08pm — I have a feeling 7 is gonna be the ceiling for night one, which makes sense with the competition just started. I could see maybe JoJo tying Amanda and Suni at the top later tonight.

Martin Kove and Britt Stewart (Paso Doble)

DM, 9:12pm — I’ll admit, my expectations are pretty low for Martin Kove. Older celebrities have almost always had a tough time on the show, and 74 makes him even older than most. And Britt is a relatively new pro, so she doesn’t have her own established fan base.

DM, 9:15pm — Oh God bless Martin Kove, but that was not even the slightest bit good. He was very smart to open with that great “Karate Kid” speech. It gave the routine it’s only bit of excitement and personality. Otherwise, he mostly walked through it and stood in place.

JK, 9:16pm — Martin was clearly being upstaged by Britt.

JUDGES — Derek felt like Martin was “unprepared.” Bruno thinks he “needs to work on the content” and couldn’t tell what was coming next. Carrie Ann loved his commitment to dancing, but not so much the dancing. Len thought it was a “gallant effort” for someone in his 70s.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (4), Len (3), Derek (3), Bruno (3) = 13

JK, 9:17pm — And that’s not good for them to receive a score of 13 out of 40.

DM, 9:17pm — I wish I could say those scores were unfair, but they were actually quite right. But I too commend him for his commitment not just to character, but to the “DWTS” experience.

Kenya Moore and Brandon Armstrong (Foxtrot)

DM, 9:20pm — Can’t say I’ve ever had any interest in “Real Housewives” contenders, on or off the dance floor, and they haven’t typically done very well on this show, but Kenya already has good chemistry with Brandon. We’ll see how the dancing goes.

DM, 9:22pm — Good start for Kenya. That routine had good flow, soft movements. I’m not mad at it.

JK, 9:22pm — Lovingly poignant.

JUDGES — Bruno thought it was “classic” and “glossy” with a “luxurious sheen.” Carrie Ann thought she looked like a “queen,” and she has the “refinement” and “relaxed body,” plus the “right posture.” Len liked the “fluidity in the arms.” Derek thinks she has great potential, but she needs to watch the arms.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (6), Derek (6), Bruno (7) = 26

DM, 9:25pm — I agree with the 6s for Kenya more than the 7s, but it was a good start for her.

Christine Chiu and Pasha Pashkov (Tango)

DM, 9:29pm — She asks to see Pasha’s abs the moment they meet. The “Bling Empire” star is excited to be dancing to “Glamorous” by Fergie. I’m skeptical about this pairing.

DM, 9:31pm — A very good start for Christine, not the most memorable routine of the night, but technically she has the goods.

JK, 9:31pm — I thought it definitely offered some class.

JUDGES — Carrie thinks she’s a “diamond in the rough” with a great back and great flexibility, but at little uneven. Len thought she had “great control,” but her feet “turned in a little bit” at times. Derek thought it was “really good” was great frame, but she needs to get lower into the ground. Bruno thinks she’s a “gem” who needs “a little bit more polish.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (7), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 25

DM, 9:34pm — I thought the 6s were pretty spot on, a little surprised Len gave it a 7.

JK, 9:34pm — That was clearly him being generous.

Matt James and Lindsay Arnold (Cha Cha)

DM, 9:36pm — No “Bachelor” contestant has done better than sixth place, but I think Matt is guaranteed to stay on for at least a few weeks with the massive Bachelor Nation fan base and Lindsay as he pro.

DM, 9:38pm — On the “Bachelor” scale, Matt is better than Grocery Store Joe, but still kinda middling, awkward, missed some steps.

JK, 9:39pm — Solid start for our (possible) champion of the season given how well other “Bachelor” alumni have done before.

JUDGES — Len thought the hip action was “lacking.” Derek thought he did a “great job” and was “charismatic,” but he needs to remember to turn out his feet. Bruno thought he “did deliver” with a “spontaneous quality” and good “stage presence.” Carrie Ann loved how he used the space, and she thought he aced the body rolls.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (6), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 24

DM, 9:41pm — Those 6s are actually way too high. No way he was better than Iman Shumpert or Jimmie Allen.

Brian Austin Green and Sharna Burgess (Foxtrot)

DM, 9:47pm — This should be interesting. Brian is dancing with his real-life girlfriend Sharna, so at least we know they already have chemistry … or at least for their sake I hope so.

Cordell Martin, 9:48pm — Brian and Sharna are adorable

JK, 9:49pm — They clearly work very well together.

DM, 9:50pm — Solid, but she was doing most of the work and showed him up for the most part.

CM, 9:51pm — I think Brian would be a lot worse with another pro.

JUDGES — Derek thought it was a “great job.” Bruno thought Brian was “Prince Charming out there.” Carrie Ann thought he was staring too much at Sharna and needs to perform more to the audience. Len didn’t think the feet were good, but he thinks this season’s competition is developing into something special.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (6), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 24

DM, 9:53pm — A lot of dancers bunching up in the middle of the leaderboard at 24 and 26 points. Some risk of getting lost in the shuffle with so many contestants in the competition.

CM, 9:54pm — Calling it now jojo will tie for first or be the leading scorer.

DM, 9:54pm — I think JoJo will tie, but not sure they’re gonna go to 8s tonight.

JK, 9:54pm — We’ll find out soon.

JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson (Quickstep)

DM, 9:55pm — They’re really playing up how historic it is to have same-sex dancers on the show. They won’t talk about why it took 30 seasons for it to happen when dancers of the same gender have performed together on “World of Dance” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Welcome to the 21st century, “DWTS.” Better late than never.

DM, 9:57pm — Except for Jenna falling down, that was a fantastic routine, more exciting to see a same-gender routine than I even thought it would be, though JoJo needs to control her high energy a little more.

CM, 9:57pm — Yeah Jojo did her thing. Poor Jenna

JUDGES — Bruno loved to see their “freedom of expression” and praised their “recovery” from what JoJo is pretending was an intentional “dip.” Carrie credited JoJo with being a good partner. Len thought it lost a bit of control, but “what a performance.” Derek says, “You were born for ‘Dancing with the Stars.'”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Len (7), Derek (7), Bruno (7) = 29

JK, 10:00pm — They at least still received the highest score of the night.

CM, 10:01pm — Told you guys.

DM, 10:01pm — Okay, I was wrong. I’m crying foul though for giving an 8 to the only dance of the night with an actual fall.


1. JoJo Siwa — 29
2. Amanda Kloots — 28
2. Suni Lee — 28
4. Melanie C — 27
5. Christine Chiu — 26
5. Melora Hardin — 26
5. Kenya Moore — 26
8. Olivia Jade — 25
9. Brian Austin Green — 24
9. Matt James — 24
9. Mike “The Miz” Mizanin — 24
9. Cody Rigsby — 24
13. Jimmie Allen — 22
14. Iman Shumpert — 21
15. Martin Kove — 13

CM, 10:05pm — Bottom two predictions?

JK, 10:06pm — I think Martin is absolutely going there.

CM, 10:06pm — I’m going with Martin and either Christine or Cody

DM, 10:06pm — Martin and Jimmie? Maybe Cody or Olivia who might not have fan bases and landed in the middle. Maybe Melora too because more than half the dancers ended up in the middle with either 26 or 24.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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