"DWTS" Week 1: The Wonder from Down Under

Season 21 of "Dancing with the Stars" is off and running cha-cha-ing, foxtrotting and quickstepping! Last night's premiere episode was, as always, packed with over-the-top goodness. Nick Carter wore the world's most fabulous beaded suit, Keo Motsepe revealed he's actually a prince (!) and Paula Deen may or may not have soiled herself. Oh, "DWTS," I missed you so.

The evening kicked off with a lavish opening number showcasing the general awesomeness of this season's pros, who boogied through the streets of L.A. I'll say this: The stars are nice and all, but I will never, ever tire of watching truly great ballroom dancing:

Unsurprisingly, the contestants with legitimate dance experience under their belts fared well last night. Carter—who is, yes, still a Backstreet Boy—showed off his best boy-band moves (and the aforementioned bedazzled suit) in a sultry little cha-cha. Married song-and-dance couple Alexa and Carlos PenaVega—whose resumés include Spy Kids and the Nickelodeon musical comedy Big Time Rushnailed their respective numbers, driven by a little friendly marital competition. Calling it now: All of these stars are gonna make it to the "DWTS" final four.

But the surprise hit of the night was Bindi Irwin, the adorably bubbly 17-year-old daughter of the late Steve Irwin, aka the "Crocodile Hunter." Though slightly less polished than some of her competitors, she's got real moves—and she's just so happy. Her jive to "Crocodile Rock" (of course) was a minute of pure joy. Behold, the Wonder from Down Under (thank you for that, and for everything, Bruno):

What did y'all think? Were you utterly creeped out by Gary Busey's dance face?* Did you get SO HAPPY when you heard Chaka Khan would be dancing the cha-cha (Cha-Chaka Khan!)? Do you want to be Bindi's bestie? Let us know in the comments!


Latest Posts

Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search