Cast of 25th season includes both football and basketball players, a Paralympian, multiple reality stars, and a boybander and his wife.
Dancing with the Stars is about to hit the big two-five, and today we officially got the cast. Although two stars were announced earlier, and the rest of them also leaked out, as is usual these days. We actually had a couple of narrow escapes on this one, with rumors of them asking two Trump castoffs who then both declared they didn’t want to do it.
They also seem to have realized the importance of the pros, who got their own big reveal beforehand. We’ve got two huge comebacks this season: Mark Ballas and Cheryl Burke have both managed to find time in their busy schedules to do this one. Meanwhile, everyone’s request has been granted: Alan Bersten is going to get his turn to be a full-time professional partner. Though fans of Sasha Farber are not happy at the news that he’s been sent back to the dance troupe. Kym Johnson-Herjavec is also out, but we more or less expected that.
So who are each of them dancing with?
Alan Bersten: Debbie Gibson, the middle-aged singer
They’re not starting him out with the easiest partner. Debbie Gibson was big at the end of the 80s, but she’s faded from the memory of most. On the other hand, her more limited acting career has included work on Broadway, so between that and the music career, she’s got experience in more than one kind of dance. Also a lot of reality TV experience, including Skating with Celebrities! So if age hasn’t worn her down too much, and she can sell the personality, they might last just a little longer than one would first assume
Mark Ballas: Lindsey Stirling, the YouTube musician
Although while she has done a lot through YouTube, she’s a touch more famous than most YouTube personalities. But as a violinist rather than a singer, she has a lot less dance experience. Also while she’s not without fans, she’s still coming in with one of the smaller bases. Mark’s got a bigger one, if not one that’s always preserved him from shock eliminations. If she’s got any dancing ability he’s likely to find it, and then they could last a while, but they may not make the final, possibly even if they deserve to.
Cheryl Burke: Terrell Owens, the football player
He’s a guy who has a history that includes multiple teams and multiple records, and also a couple instances of bad behavior. Exactly how many votes that would translate into is hard to determine, but he should probably get at least some. And of course Cheryl has her own fanbase, so votes aren’t something they’ll have to worry about immediately. As for whether he’ll be any good, well, he’s only been retired five years, and he apparently liked showing off when scoring a touchdown, so he might get by on personality, possibly for longer than he ought to.
Witney Carson: Frankie Muniz, the B-list actor
Frankie Muniz is most known for Malcolm in the Middle and racecar driving. Hey, a racecar driver won this show once, but another one wasn’t very good. He’s also starred in a few less big movies, and even done some work on the music scene, though not the kind that involves dancing. There’s no certainty he can dance, but it isn’t the craziest thing he’s tried to do. If he fails, he might or might not be the first one out. If he succeeds, who knows?
Keo Motsepe: Barbara Corcoran, the Shark Tank star
Once again Keo’s gotten a difficult partner. Barbara Corcoran’s nearly seventy, and has nothing in her life that involved any kind of dancing, plus how many people really know who she is? Both of the other two Shark Tank starts went out roughly halfway through the season, but they were younger, and Robert Herjavec had the personality to sell. Barbara may have that personality too, but even if she does, will she even get a chance to display it before elimination if she struggles enough?
Gleb Savchenko: Sasha Piertese, the Pretty Little Liars actress
Mildly surprised Val didn’t get this one, since he took the other two female one Pretty Little Liars cast members to the final, and won with the second of them. But to repeat their feat, Sasha’s going to have dance as well as the two of them did, and there’s really no guarantee of that. One assumes all the fans that showed up to vote for his castmates will vote for her, so at least she has time to improve. Savchenko shouldn’t be without fans either, but he might not have big enough a base to make a different. They might get out halfway through, like her male castmate.
Peta Murgatroyd & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Nick & Vanessa Lachey, the married couple
A pair of newlyweds paired off with the show’s second married couple, third one actually cast (in the first case, she got injured a week before the premiere). But unlike with the both B-list PenaVegas, there’s a definite imbalance in fame between the two of them, and potentially one in ability. Nick Lachey was the one who was once a boyband star, which means both dancing experience and lingering fans. Vanessa is known for TV hosting, but really, since they’ve been married, she’s just known as Nick’s wife. Even if it turns out she can dance, the support will probably go more to him. Maks might have a bigger fanbase than his wife, but Peta’s got a big one too. This could easily end with Nick & Peta in the final while their spouses cheer them on.
Artem Chingvintsev: Nikki Bella, the professional wrestler
Nikki Bella also has a pair of reality shows, and is a very famous figure in wrestling, enough to bring in a good fanbase with her. Which is good, since Artem’s is still a tad uncertain. Most of the other professional wrestlers/ultimate fighters we’ve had on the show have been mediocre at best. But the other female one, Paige van Zant, became the best dancer of her season and nearly won. So it’s far from impossible Nikki could follow in those footsteps instead, and she also might get more votes.
Sharna Burgess: Derek Fisher, the basketball player
He’s a guy retired only three years, so he should be in shape. Plus since he’s coaching the Knicks, he’ll have fans of that team for sure, as well as whichever ones he picked up playing for all his other teams and generally being rather big in his sport. But of the two basketball players this show has had, one didn’t make it out of the first week, and the other only went halfway, and as a dancer was only ever decent. Which may be all Derek needs to be to go further, especially if his personality helps, and Sharna’s fanbase also does.
Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Victoria Arlen, the Paralympic gold medalist
If you want inspirational stories, how about a woman competing on this show only a year and a half after she started walking again? Victoria’s story is both terrifying and odds-defying, going from “locked-in” syndrome where she couldn’t move or speak at all, to spending years still paralyzed from the waist down (the condition she was in during her swimming career), to taking her first steps in a decade in March 2016. How recovered her legs are now we’re about to find out, but with Val as a partner, if she can dance, they’ll probably at least make the final; the inspirational stories typically do.
Lindsay Arnold: Jordan Fisher, the Broadway star
He was in the original cast of Hamilton, which means he should bring those fans in with him. Lindsay too might finally have built herself a base, despite her limited amount of seasons, since she keeps going far. Broadway stars don’t necessarily find it easy in the ballroom; Marissa Jaret Winokur certainly didn’t. But then she got really good and made the semi-finals, so there’s certainly no reason Jordan can’t do that at the very least, and with possibly more fans than her, he’s probably got a good chance of going still further.
Emma Slater: Drew Scott, the cable reality TV star
He’s on HGTV, but he and his brother are two of the highest-profile people on HGTV. Also he’s the kind of handsome guy who gets female fans. They get him and his brother confused sometimes, but only one of them’s on this show, so…he won’t come in without any votes. Nor will Emma. But he probably needs to be good to last. And this is the kind of star where there’s no telling whether he’ll be able to dance at all or not.
Nick & Peta are the closest things to favorites right now, but opening night could easily shake that one up. That’s week after next; season 25 of Dancing with the Stars premieres September 18.