First, let’s WELCOME! the new cast of Dancing With The Stars, Season 18! If anything, this season will have people talking! I don’t know if that will be a good thing or a bad thing yet. Time will tell. Here’s a quick bio of our new cast, since it is unusual that everyone knows everyone. None of them will be complete, so I’m sure there’s things that you think I should have added. Put it into the comments section, please.
DANICA MCKELLER is 39 years old and has lived in the Los Angeles area for most of her life. Since it is stated in her IMDB profile that her mom owned a dance studio, it is probably safe to assume that she has had dance training. She was Winnie Cooper on “Wonder Years,” and I am old enough that I remember when that show was first on! She’s very intelligent, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA as a Math major, and has written a few books to help youth with math (I think…) In other words, she’s beauty AND brains! Danica is paired with Val Chmerkovskiy. I’m not sure yet about this couple. They look good together, and they will get past the halfway part of the season, because they look good together. That means they have TONS of chemistry to the judges, whether we can see it or not.
CODY SIMPSON is 17 years old and from Australia. He DOES have a girlfriend, she’s the daughter of one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills so if TPTB were hoping for some romance between him and Witney, they’re out of luck! And he’s a singer. And honestly, that’s about it! And he seems to be extremely popular on Social Media. Cody is paired with Witney Carson. This is her 1st season as a teaching pro, she spent 2 seasons in the Troupe, immediately following a season on SYTYCD. I will be honest, I was completely against pairing them up, and I still am against pairing them up. Yes, they needed someone young, since they cast a teenaged boy, but I think she’s too untested. I know Zendaya was the same age, but teenage boys do mature slower than girls. I keep remembering the other Cody, who was 19 when he was on. This Cody is even younger, so I do think that while he does need a younger female pro, he also needs someone quite mature, and I think Witney is too untested yet. And, I don’t think I know her choreography skills. I think she’s the latest in a long line of them trying to find Julianne 2.0 and I don’t think it will succeed. Again, they’re young and cute and look good together, so to the judges, it will equal “tons of chemistry.”
NeNe Leakes is 46 years old, and her real name is Linnethia Monique. According to her wiki page, she started as a stripper, and met and married her husband. From there, she’s been on Real Housewives of Atlanta, Celebrity Apprentice, The New Normal, and most recently, Glee. Oh, and she’s appeared on The Price is Right! Do the producers go out looking for connections between contestants? She’s paired with Tony. I’m not sure what to expect from them. Something tells me he’ll be “checked out” like he was with Wynnona (who deserved better) but if she can move even a little bit, he may act more “entitled”. Considering how her career started, I’m guessing that she really does have moves, and we may see them longer than we want.
Billy Dee Williams is 76 years old. Interesting fact, the “Dee” part of his name is short for December. Yes, his birth name is William December Williams Jr. He’s got a twin sister, who was named after their mom. I know him mostly for playing Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars saga. He was Harvey Dent in 1989’s Batman.. Which I also remember. And, he’s appeared on In Living Color– Isn’t that the show where Carrie Ann Inaba started? He’s paired with Emma, who is starting her second season as a pro. I think they have potential to do better than people expect, because Emma does seem to be a good choreographer. I think she’ll do well to match their dances well to Billy and his personality, as she did last season with Bill. He may be 76 years old, but he still gave me the impression that he’s smooooooth.
Candace Cameron-Bure is 37 years old, and grew up on TV as DJ Tanner on Full House. Her husband is an NHL Hockey player, Valeri Bure, and she took a break from Hollywood to raise their 3 kids. The youngest is named Maksim…. And, like Danica, she’s also a published author! She’s paired with Mark, and I’m not sure how this will go, because he can be completely different depending on what he thinks his chances are to winning. If it’s a great chance, he does have a tendency to “show off” more than I feel is necessary. I’m hoping he’s invested in the partnership, and in her, and can give some great dancing and costuming that can challenge her but doesn’t disrespect her religious views, and protect her from the judges (*cough* Bruno *cough) when they want her to go against what she feels is right for her.
James Maslow is 23 years old. He was on Nickelodeon Channel’s show, Big Time Rush, and the Boy Band of the same name. I do have kids that had watched the show, and while I was talking with my oldest daughter about the new cast, when I named James as part of the cast, she rolled her eyes, and said, “Oh. He was the one on the show that was always concerned with his looks.” She was less than impressed. He’s paired with Peta this season….. They MAY OR MAY NOT be in a relationship. They’ve definitely been out on a date, and I don’t know if their connection prior to the show will be addressed, but I’m guessing it won’t be. And, Peta has a tendency to turn her partners into a maypole, and dance around them while taking their clothes off, so I my guess is that this will be the same. Although, I HOPE whoever talked to Peta partway through last season with Brant will talk to her again. When they began the season, it looked like she was doing her usual type of choreography with Brant, then swiftly switched gears and actually taught him to DANCE! Hoping (but doubting) that is what we get this season. She does look good with her partners, but I’ve never been a real fan of her choreography or teaching.
Diana Nyad is 64 years old. She is an endurance swimmer, most recently she swam the 110 miles of open ocean between Havana, Cuba and Key West, Florida. This was her fifth attempt, so she is definitely used to hard work, and seems to not give up easily. She is paired with Henry Byalikov, who has spent several seasons in the Troupe, but he’s participated in several of the Trio dances. I’ve liked the choreography that I’ve seen from him, so I do think Diana and Henry could have potential to do well.
Sean Avery is 33 years old. He’s a retired NHL Hockey player, and was known as quite controversial during his career. In fact, he clocked 1,533 penalty minutes in his 580 games! He also has worked as a model, and was an intern with Vogue Magazine, and has opened a couple restaurants in NYC area. He’s paired with Karina, who definitely is capable of handling him, should his on-ice personality emerge. I don’t really have an opinion on them yet, and they could just fade into the woodwork.
Amy Purdy is 34 years old. She’s a Parolympian, competing in Sochi, Russia in the Snowboard event. When she was 19 years old, she contracted a form of bacterial meningitis, and is fortunate to be alive. She lost both legs below the knee, her spleen, and her kidneys. Her father donated one of his kidneys to her. She helped to co-found Adaptive Action Sports, which helps people with physical disabilities to become involved in sports, arts and music. She’s paired with Derek, who is the KING of overcoming challenges on this show, so I do expect them to do well.
Drew Carey is 55 years old. He served in the US Marines, and is a stand-up comedian. I watched his sit-com, The Drew Carey Show, and he also hosted the revamped Who’s Line Is It Anyway? He currently is the host of The Price is Right, and he also is interested in photography and soccer. He’s paired with Cheryl. If we see the side of Cheryl that we saw last season with Jack, I do think they will do well, most likely remaining on the show longer than other pairs who may dance better. I’m really not sure if he is a “mover” but he’s got Cheryl’s fanbase that will be pulling for him.
Meryl Davis is 27 years old. She’s a gold medal Olympic Ice Dancer, and most people are already aware of her and Charlie, so there really isn’t much I can add. She’s paired with Maks, who returned after 2 seasons off, to dance with Meryl. I expect them to do well, but I think I need to wait and see how their partnership pans out. From what I know of her/have seen, she seems to be shy and a bit introverted, and Maks tends to…. NOT. If he’s not careful, he could just go railroading in, and she can just shut down, and their partnership will suffer. That’s just my thought!
Charlie White is 26 years old and has been Meryl’s Ice Dancing partner for 17 years. The two brought home gold for the USA, so DWTS decided it would be a good idea to split them up and make them compete AGAINST each other. He’s dancing with Sharna, and I do think that he’s been paired better than Meryl. Sharna is a great choreographer, and in my opinion, maybe better than Maks. I know I’ve liked the choreography that she’s given us over her last 2 seasons with partners with limited dance ability more than many of the choreography that Maks has given us with partners with a LOT of dance ability. Plus, so far, I think Charlie and Sharna’s personality is meshing more…. But I must admit that I really haven’t seen much of M&M2. I realize that the show will be constantly playing up a false rivalry between Meryl and Charlie, they’re just predictable like that.
We’ve also got a couple new Troupe members, Jenna Johnson and Artem Chingvinsev. I don’t watch So You Think You Can Dance, or Strictly Come Dancing, so I know little about either, and will leave it up to you to tell us more about them, and I’ll add it in. I first saw Jenna on the GMA bumper, and my first thought of her was that I was happy she wasn’t blond! My next thought, after watching her and Lindsey dancing together, is that she may be a better dancer than Lindsay. Artem just reminds me of a smarmy Joey Lawrence. They join Sasha and Lindsey in the Troupe.