"Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars" is a game-changer in more ways than one. The producers gathered what Emmy Award-winning host Tom Bergeron called the "best of the best" for a season filled with high expectations. Former rivals became teammates and several champions returned with hopes of adding a second mirror-ball trophy to their collection.
No one gets a free pass, though, not even the winner of Season 1. As Len Goodman, professional ballroom judge, pointed out, what was good before has to be great and what was great has to be exceptional. Goodman also said the new scoring system includes half-point increments.
The first night premiere saw the celebrities dancing either the fox trot or the cha cha. Here are the standings going into the first elimination:
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke (Score: 24.5)Season 3 champions Smith and Burke closed the show, but the duo's cha cha put them at the head of the pack. "You can teach technique, you can teach the mechanics of dance. You can't teach flair. It's great," Goodman said.
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd (Score: 24)Season 8 finalist Marini wants to do better this time. For premiere night, he danced the fox trot with new partner Peta Murgatroyd. "Style, panache, and finesse. Old-time Hollywood, gloss and glamour. Technically, so good. Can I see it again?" judge Bruno Tonioli asked.
Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel (Score: 22.5)Audience voting made Sabrina Bryan the 13th member of the all-star cast. This gives her a chance to even the score after her surprising Season 5 elimination. "There's nothing like a woman scorned, and you came back here with a fire under your booty, and you kicked that dance's booty," judge Carrie Ann Inaba enthused after Bryan's cha cha.
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough (Score: 22)Season 8 Champion Shawn Johnson said she was happy with new partner Derek Hough, but she still feels like she's cheating on her former partner Mark Ballas. Inaba said that Johnson's fox trot was what the All-Stars season is all about. "Your technique, your posture, it was all perfect timing," she said.
Apollo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff (Score: 22)Olympic speed skater Apollo Anton Ohno took home the mirror ball trophy in Season 4, but his partner, Season 13 champion Karina Smirnoff, was afraid he was rusty when they practiced their cha cha.
"In Olympic terms, it wasn't a gold medal performance. It was maybe a bronze medal performance as far as I was concerned. It need a bit more hip action on the forward and back basics, but you came out, and as always, you sold it," Goodman explained.
Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower (Score: 21.5)Castroneves, the Season 5 champ, danced the fox trot with his new partner Chelsie Hightower. "For me, it was a joy to watch -- mostly. There were one or two incidents throughout the routine, but it was good," Goodman said.
Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya (Score: 21.5)Season 2 winner Lachey paired up with Season 2 runner-up Trebunskaya on the fox trot. "It was all a bit too hard and hectic for me. Your top was too hard, your right shoulder is poking through," Goodman said. "I liked it. You're a nice dancer. You're compact, you're neat, you're precise. Just soften up the arms, just relax, get that shoulder back."
Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy (Score: 21.5)Season 1 champion Kelly Monaco was a little nervous coming back to "Dancing With the Stars." Her season only ran for six weeks, but she still delivered the goods with an impressive cha cha. "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Sexier and hotter than ever. These people have danced the cha cha cha before. You have never done it before," Tonioli said.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani (Score: 21)Surviving Jason Mesnick's surprising change-of-heart on "The Bachelor," Rycroft took third place in Season 8. This was a great accomplishment given that she was added to the cast at the last minute. Returning to "DWTS," Rycroft and Dovolani danced the fox trot.
"I think you have the most exquisite lines. Your lines are gorgeous, your extension is fabulous, but you have to have more body contact," Inaba said.
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson (Score: 20.5)The second-place couple from Season 4 reunited for a spirited cha cha. "You always bring it on and give it large. And I like a man who gives it large. That's the way to do it," Tonioli said.
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas (Score: 19.5)Mark Ballas brings out the best in Season 11 finalist Bristol Palin. With her mother and son Tripp watching from the audience, Palin shed her shy girl image by doing a booty-shaking cha cha.
"I am a bit taken aback. I vote you the most improved since we last saw you. When you were doing your technique, your legs were beautiful. And you are confident, and you are sassy. You need a little more 'pop' when you hit your lines," Inaba said.
Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy (Score: 19)Kirstie Alley had the buzz in Season 12 and hopes to do well this time with partner Maks Chmerkovskiy. "You have the most beautiful, sensual quality when you dance," Inaba said of Alley's fox trot. "You tell a story with your full body."
Pamela Anderson and Tristan McManus (Score: 17)Anderson and new partner McManus had a bit of a rough time with the cha cha. "You look like a girl who could go all the way, but you have to put the work in to go all the way. It pains me to say it; you are a good performer. You can perform, you can do it, but there wasn't enough work," Tonioli said.
The first "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars" elimination show takes place on on Tuesday, 9/25 at 8 PM EST.
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