Dancing with the Stars returns on March 19 with a whole new cast of celebrities for its 14th season and I have to say I’m a little excited. I was pretty underwhelmed by last season’s cast. I liked a lot of the celebrities but the show itself really seemed to get too bogged down in its attempts to make a statement. This season returns more to the show I fell in love with. There might not be as many big name celebrities but there are definitely some folks I’m looking forward to seeing strut their stuff in the ballroom. So who are this season’s celebrities and who are their pro partners? Let’s take a look.
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd
Every season of DWTS needs its pro-athlete and this season that pro-athlete is Green Bay Packers wide receiver, Donald Driver. Did you know, however, that aside from being a pro-football player, Donald is also a successful children’s author? Looking forward to seeing what he can do with former dance troupe member and second time pro (she was eliminated with Meta World Peace in the first week of competition last season), Peta Murgatroyd.
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff
I just love Gavin DeGraw. I don’t even care what he’s doing so I’m sure I’ll love him on the show. Being partnered with last year’s champ, Karina Smirnoff, probably doesn’t hurt his chances of being awesome but as we’ve seen in the past, a great partner doesn’t always make for a great dancer. All the same, I have a lot of faith. I think Gavin will be a pleasant surprise.
Gladys Knight and Tristan McManus
Forget what I said in the intro about the lack of big name stars. Come on. Gladys freaking Knight isn’t just a big name star, she’s a legend. I absolutely cannot wait to see how she does with Tristan. I can’t help but think her musicality is going to be spot on and I think Tristan showed us that he’ll be able to choreograph routines that show off her strengths like he did last season with Nancy Grace. I’m also thrilled to see Tristan back again. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite male pros.
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya
So… Jack Wagner. I suppose in some circles Jack is a pretty big name for Dancing with the Stars. He is a very accomplished actor and musician although some might say he’s more famous right now for his relationship with Heather Locklear and their eventual breakup. In all honesty, I think I would’ve preferred to see Heather on the show but Jack should be pretty entertaining and he’s partnered with one of my favorite female pros so this one should be pretty good. I think he’ll surprise a lot of people – maybe even bring Anna the trophy which I’d love to see.
Jalell White and Kym Johnson
Sure Jalell is most well known for playing Steve Urkel on Family Matters but check out some of his work on the web series, Road to the Alter and Fake It Till You Make It. The guy is seriously talented. I love that he’s been paired up with Kym Johnson. I think they’ll make a great pair. I expect them to do very well in the competition and I’m definitely excited for that.
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas
Now this one is exciting for me. I’m a huge Katherine Jenkins fan. Her voice is absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see what she can do on the dance floor. The fact that she’s been partnered with Mark Ballas only makes her casting more exciting. Mark’s choreography has always excited me. He’s fearless and unique. I think he’ll be the perfect partner to really help Katherine shine.
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough
I am not a Derek Hough fan. I don’t know why, honestly. There’s just always been something about him that rubs me the wrong way but I can’t deny his talent as a dancer, a teacher and a choreographer. As soon as I heard Maria would be hitting the dance floor this season, I hoped she’d get a good partner because I absolutely love her and personal feelings about Derek aside, I really think Maria got the best partner a female celeb on the show could ask for.
Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani
The name Martina Navratilova should really be a name most of us recognize. This woman is an absolute legend – one of the most talented professional tennis players to ever step foot on the tennis court. In the past, I haven’t really loved the people Tony got partnered with although I thought he had a real chance with Chynna Phillips last season. Of course we all know how that went. I think Martina could really be a great partner for him and I look forward to seeing how they do on the dance floor.
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
I adore Melissa Gilbert so I’m pretty excited to see her on Dancing with the Stars this season. Known primarily as an actress, Melissa is also a talented writer and a celebrated producer. She also happens to have two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild under her belt. I think she’ll be the perfect match for Maksim in both personality and drive. This could be the year Maksim finally gets the trophy.
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower
Every season of DWTS needs its Disney star and season 14 is no exception. This year, Shake It Up!, and Camp Rock star Roshon Fegan will be filling that spot. The Disney stars usually come into the competition as the underdogs with something to prove but almost always surprise in a very pleasant way. I don’t think there’s any reason to expect anything less than that with Roshon, especially considering he’s been lucky enough to land Chelsie as a partner.
Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy
Some of you may know Sherri as one of the ladies of The View. Others, like myself, may recognize her more as an actress and comedienne. Love, love, love every appearance she makes on 30 Rock as Tracy Jordan’s long suffering wife. I can’t wait to see how she fares with Val Chmerkovskiy. His teaching style was a little tough for my taste last season but I think he’ll be better this season. I’m glad he’s back and I’m glad he has Sherri for a partner. I think this pairing is going to be a lot of fun to watch.
William Levy and Cheryl Burke
I’m just going to throw this out there – about the only think William has going against him in this competition is the fact that he doesn’t have the name recognition or American fan base many other contestants on the show this season. He did star alongside Jennifer Lopez in the music video for her single I’m Into You so people may recognize him. More than that though, he has a great partner in Burke, is extremely charismatic and absolutely gorgeous. If he can dance, he might have a shot at winning the whole thing.
Overall, I have to say I’m pretty excited about this season. I have my eye on Melissa Gilbert, Jack Wagner, William Levy, Roshon Fegan and Jaleel White as early favorites but as any Dancing with the Stars fan knows, the contestants with the most talent can really surprise you. I have to say I really miss Louis Van Amstel and Lacey Schwimmer on the pros roster. Perhaps next season. Who are you excited to see? Are there any pros you miss? Sound off in the comments section below!