Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready to start your toes a tapping for another season of ABC’s hit wonder “Dancing With The Stars.” This season will include a dynamic lineup of stars — two Olympic Gold Medalists, a game show host, a swimming legend and a teen pop star. All will get a professional partner to help them before their first live episode airs on Monday, March 17 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
In a first for “Dancing with the Stars,” the competition will feature a new game changing twist called “The Switch Up.” This season, America will be given the power to vote and change celebrities and professional dance pairings. This new rule will affect all couples as they will be required to switch partners at a point in the season. Never before have dance partnerships been split up during the course of competition.
As announced this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America” by “Dancing with the Stars” hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, the 12 celebrities with their professional partners heading to the dance floor this season (in alphabetical order) are:
Billy Dee Williams & Emma Slater
Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas
Charlie White & Sharna Burgess
Cody Simpson & Witney Carson
Danica McKellar & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Diana Nyad & Henry Byalikov
Drew Carey & Cheryl Burke
James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd
Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
NeNe Leakes & Tony Dovolani
Sean Avery & Karina Smirnoff
Amy Purdy & Derek Hough
I’m leaning toward Danica McKeller as an early favorite. She was most of Generation X’s first TV heart-throb. But Charlie White or Meryl Davis could take it all home too. And you can never count out Derek Hough and his partner. But how will the big twist shake things up? I guess we’ll find out. Who will you be watching for this season?
Full bios and cast photo are below the jump:
SEAN AVERY — Former pro hockey player Sean Avery is known for his unpredictable antics on the ice and a humorous personality. During his twelve year hockey career, he played left wing for the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, and the New York Rangers. Typically known as his team’s “enforcer,” Avery had a reputation as an outspoken agitator on (and sometimes off) the ice. Controversy followed him wherever he played, and he became known as much for his mercurial style of play as for his eclectic interests. These interests led Avery to many unique experiences including an internship at Vogue Magazine, working under the famed Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley. He has been featured in numerous ad campaigns as a model, including 7 For All Mankind and is currently the Luxury Advertising Director at Playboy. Also an activist, Avery is on the Board of Directors of Athlete Ally, a nonprofit raising awareness about homophobia and transphobia in sports. SEAN AVERY partners with KARINA SMIRNOFF.
CANDACE CAMERON BURE — Actress, producer, New York Times bestselling author and inspirational speaker, Candace Cameron Bure is both outspoken and passionate about her family and faith. Known to millions worldwide from her role as D.J. Tanner on the iconic family sitcom “Full House,” Cameron Bure continues to flourish in the entertainment industry as role model to women of all ages. With an acting career that started at the age of five, Cameron Bure grew up in show business alongside her brother Kirk Cameron and has appeared in countless national television commercials, prime-time hits, TV movies and feature films. Mostly recently, Cameron Bure starred in the Hallmark Original Movie “Let It Snow.” In addition, she starred on ABC Family’s hugely popular show “Make It Or Break It” in a three year run as Summer Van Horn. Cameron Bure added bestselling author to her many titles with her book Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness, inspiring women to embrace a healthier lifestyle by moving faith to the forefront of their relationship with food. Her second book, Balancing It All, shares her story of successfully balancing different roles and responsibilities including motherhood, work, and Hollywood. Cameron Bure and her husband, former NHL star Val Bure, have been happily married since 1996. Together with their 3 children, Natasha, Lev and Maks, they split their time between Los Angeles and Napa Valley, California which is home to their boutique wine label, Bure Family Wines. CANDACE CAMERON BURE partners with MARK BALLAS.
DREW CAREY — Drew Carey is a stand-up comic turned actor and producer who had the distinction of having two hit shows simultaneously: the long-running comedy “The Drew Carey Show,” which ran from 1995-2004 and the improv/sketch show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on which he was host and a producer. The success of that show led to the creation of “Drew Carey’s Improv All-Stars,” an improv troupe that performs in showrooms across the country. In July 2007, he was named the host of “The Price Is Right,” succeeding longtime host Bob Barker. He began his successful career as a comedian in April of 1986 at the Cleveland Comedy Club. In 1988, one of his first big breaks was competing on “Star Search.” In 1991, Carey landed a spot on HBO’s “14th Annual Young Comedians Special” and appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” Carey landed his own television development deal with Disney, which led to an opportunity for him to co-star in the series “The Good Life.” He also had the opportunity to work with Bruce Helford, who was a consulting writer on the series and hired him as a staff writer for “The Gaby Hoffman Show.” Their experience led the two of them to decide to co-create a series for Carey. He went on to star in his own comedy special for Showtime, “Drew Carey: Human Cartoon” and performed in Showtime’s “Tenth Anniversary of the Montreal Comedy Festival.” Carey was born in Cleveland, Ohio and currently resides in Los Angeles. DREW CAREY partners with CHERYL BURKE.
MERYL DAVIS — Paired in 1997, Meryl Davis, 27, and her partner Charlie White, 26, are the longest-running ice dancing partnership in the history of United States figure skating. As a child, Davis wished to glide atop the frozen surface of the Michigan Lake adjacent to her home, so learning to ice skate at the age of five was a natural choice. They are 2014 Olympic Gold Medalists, 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists and 2011 & 2013 World Champions. Davis and White are also six-time (2009-2014) U.S. Champions, and five-time (2001-2013) Grand Prix Final Champions. Led by one of the most successful coaching teams in the world, she and White have steadily climbed the ranks of the U.S. and international ice dancing world. In 2006, they made their senior debut on the Grand Prix Series. They dominated the international skating scene this season, standing atop the podium at all six competitions they entered. By winning the 2013 World Championships, the team made figure skating history, becoming the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win two World titles. The second title cemented their place in figure skating history and positioned them as the team to beat at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. When not on the ice Davis enjoys reading, traveling and learning about other cultures. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan. MERYL DAVIS partners with MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY.
NENE LEAKES — NeNe Leakes shot to stardom as a fan favorite on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Her popularity as a housewife led to her own Bravo television series “I Dream of Nene: The Wedding.” In 2012, she was cast as coach Roz Washington on “Glee” and later that year landed a starring role on NBC’s sitcom “The New Normal.” Leakes has also guest-starred in BET comedies, “The Game” and “Let’s Stay Together.” She was voted as one of Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year and was the recipient of Bravo’s A-list Award for Fan Favorite. She is the author of Never Make the Same Mistake Twice, discussing her fractured childhood, abusive relationship and struggles with being a single mother. Currently, Leakes resides in Duluth, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, along with her two children and husband Gregg Leakes. NENE LEAKES partners with TONY DOVOLANI.
JAMES MASLOW — James Maslow is best known as the star of the hit television series “Big Time Rush” and as a member of the worldwide bestselling music group of the same name. Maslow has headlined sold out tours across the globe, most recently the Big Time Rush Live 2014 World Tour, performing at some of the largest venues across North & South America. Maslow began his acting career on the popular series “iCarly” and completed the fourth season of “Big Time Rush” last year. As one of the most popular music groups internationally, Big Time Rush has won countless Kids’ Choice Awards, and a 2012 Parade Magazine poll named Big Time Rush the “Best Boy Band in the World,” topping other well-known bands such as One Direction and The Wanted. Maslow has collaborated with many popular recording artists, such as Jordin Sparks, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and with Snoop Dogg on Big Time Rush’s international, chart-topping hit single “Boyfriend.” Born in New York and raised in San Diego, Maslow began performing at an early age, training at the prestigious La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, and the Coronado School of the Arts. JAMES MASLOW partners with PETA MURGATROYD.
DANICA MCKELLAR — Danica McKellar, best known as Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years” and Elsie Snuffin on “The West Wing,” is a New York Times bestselling author with her three groundbreaking books, Math Doesn’t Suck, Kiss My Math and Hot X: Algebra Exposed. She is also the author of Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA, McKellar wrote a theorem that has been dubbed, “The Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem,” and was published in Britain’s esteemed Journal of Physics. Her recent acting roles include appearances on “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory.” DANICA MCKELLAR partners with VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY.
DIANA NYAD — 25 million people worldwide rooted for Diana Nyad last September as she approached the Florida shore, at long last achieving her 35-year-old dream of becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. Nyad is not one to quit. On her fifth attempt, speaking the words “Never Ever Give Up” to the wildly cheering crowd on a Key West beach on September 2, 2013, Nyad may have been dazed and physically spent, but she showed the world what persistence and belief can manifest. Nyad stroked the amazing 110.86 miles in 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds. Daring to reach for the stars, this swim beginning to seem impossible (after her four attempts and other strong swimmers trying and failing since 1950), Nyad has motivated the world at large to be bold, to live fearlessly, to chase one’s dreams with unwavering commitment. The second statement the victorious 64-year-old made on that Key West beach? “You’re never too old to chase your dreams.” And her third statement on that historic day: “It looks a solitary sport, but it’s a TEAM.” A prominent sports broadcaster, reporting for National Public Radio, Fox Sports, ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and The New York Times for thirty years, Nyad has carved her place as one of our compelling story-tellers. She has written three books and is currently writing her memoir for Knopf, due out in 2015. Nyad is a talented linguist, speaking three foreign languages fluently. She has also earned the reputation of a uniquely entertaining and inspiring public speaker. DIANA NYAD joins first time professional partner HENRY BYALIKOV.
AMY PURDY — Amy Purdy had a typical childhood until losing her legs at 19 as a result of Meningitis, which has led to an adulthood of extraordinary accomplishments. Currently training for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, she is the top ranked adaptive snowboarder in the U.S. and three-time World Cup Para-snowboard winner. Purdy is the Co-Founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization which helps disabled youth, adults and wounded veterans get involved in action sports. AAS was instrumental in getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games. Purdy’s positive outlook has opened many doors to other opportunities including being featured in a Madonna music video, a lead acting role in an award winning independent film and multiple modeling projects. She is an accomplished motivational speaker who has shared her story with audiences around the world. In 2013, Purdy was named by the International Olympic Committee as one of the top 15 most marketable Para-athletes in the world. AMY PURDY partners with DEREK HOUGH.
CODY SIMPSON — With over 6.4 million Twitter followers, over 6.7 million Facebook likes and nearly 200 million YouTube views, 17-year-old pop star Cody Simpson has taken the world by storm. Simpson recently released “The Acoustic Sessions” EP that followed the release of his sophomore album, 2013’s “Surfers Paradise” that debuted top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and features the Top 40 hit single “Pretty Brown Eyes.” He recently wrapped his sold out US and Canadian Acoustic Sessions Tour and had previously been touring with Justin Bieber on Bieber’s Believe Tour. In 2013, Simpson released his first book, Welcome To Paradise: My Journey published by HarperCollins. CODY SIMPSON joins first time professional partner WITNEY CARSON.
CHARLIE WHITE — Paired in 1997, Charlie White, 26, and his partner Meryl Davis 27, are the longest-running ice dancing partnership in the history of United States figure skating. White, who grew up just down the street from his partner, began skating at the age of three. They are 2014 Olympic Gold Medalists, 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists and 2011 & 2013 World Champions. White and Davis are also six-time (2009-2014) U.S. Champions, and five-time (2001-2013) Grand Prix Final Champions. Led by one of the most successful coaching teams in the world, they have steadily climbed the ranks of the U.S. and international ice dancing world. In 2006, they made their senior debut on the Grand Prix Series. They dominated the international skating scene this season, standing atop the podium at all six competitions they entered. By winning the 2013 World Championships, the team made figure skating history, becoming the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win two World titles. The second title cemented their place in figure skating history and positioned them as the team to beat at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. White is an avid sports fan, particularly hockey. An accomplished hockey player himself, White was part of a State Championship-winning team. Believing education is important, he is currently a student at the University of Michigan and hopes to attend law school in the future. CHARLIE WHITE partners with SHARNA BURGESS.
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS – Legendary leading man, Billy Dee Williams, was often touted as the ‘black Clark Gable,’ especially after his co-starring role in “Lady Sings the Blues,” opposite Diana Ross. George Lucas tapped him to play the scoundrel Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “The Return of the Jedi.” He also played the district attorney Harvey Dent in 1989’s “Batman.” Williams many films include “The Ladies Man,” “Undercover Brother,” “The Visit,” “Fanboys,” “Barry Munday” and “Constellation” opposite Gabrielle Union. Most recently, the iconic Williams appeared in the blockbuster film “The Lego Movie.” In 2006, the NAACP recognized Williams for his immense contribution to the arts by awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award. His television appearances include “Lost,” “Private Practice” and “Scrubs.” In addition to his impressive acting career, Williams is also a very accomplished artist and has a painting on display at the Smithsonian. BILLY DEE WILLIAMS partners with EMMA SLATER.
Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT on Tuesday evenings. For the final week, on Monday, May 19, online voting will open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 11:00 a.m., ET/8:00 a.m., PT the next day. A custom Facebook app lets fans vote, share whom they voted for and say why, as well as see whom friends voted for.
Hosted by Emmy® Award-winning host Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Erin Andrews (sports host & “Dancing with the Stars” Season 10 finalist), “Dancing with the Stars” is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines which are judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.