'Dancing With the Stars' 2019 Premiere: James Van Der Beek Steals the Show (RECAP)

Stefanie Parker
Spoiler Alert ABC/Eric McCandless

Dancing With the Stars is back and better than ever.

Season 28 of the dancing competition show kicks off tonight, September 16, and we can't wait to see who brings home the mirror ball trophy.

Read on for highlights from the premiere episode, which includes dances from this season's cast: Hannah Brown, James Van Der Beek, Sailor Brinkley-Cook, Kate Flannery, Lauren Alaina, Ally Brooke, Mary Wilson, Sean Spicer, Lamar Odom, Ray Lewis, Kel Mitchell, and Karamo.

 

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Hannah's dance

The former Bachelorette took centerstage to dance the Cha-Cha to Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance With Somebody" with her partner, Alan Bersten.

"It was crisp, it was clean, it was confident," said judge Len Goodman. Carrie Ann Inaba agreed, saying she had the "right attitude" for the performance. "I can't wait to see what you do next week. This was a great way to start off Season 28."

Hannah received two 7s and a 6 from the judges, totaling 20 out of 30. "I had no expectations, I just wanted to do my best. I'm going to be better next week," she admitted.

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Kel's dance

The All That actor danced the Tango with pro partner Witney Carson to the song "Sucker" by the Jonas Brothers.

"You have the right attitude, determination, and it really was a Tango," said judge Bruno Tonioli. He did call out that Kel started off on the wrong foot but added, "Mistakes happen, you have weeks to go."

Len also praised Kel for his attitude but scolded the actor for breaking his hold. "First week, you've got potential!"

Overall, Kel and Witney received two 5s and a 6, totaling 16.

Kate's dance

The Office actress is paired up with new pro dancer Pasha Paskov and rocked out to "She Works Hard For the Money" by Donna Summer. She started off the performance by singing the first line on her own before ripping off her costume to reveal an electric blue dress.

"Your movements are very clear and very defined, but you need to stay present, you're in great hands. Great first dance," Carrie Ann said.

Len called out Kate for not straightening her legs, but absolutely loved her attitude. "You come out and you just sparkle."

"You can run my office anytime," Bruce added.

Kate earned 5s across the board, totaling 15 out of 30.

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Lamar's dance

The two-time NBA champion danced the Foxtrot to "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble with pro dancer Peta Murgatroyd. Peta immediately called out Lamar's height, saying it's going to be "really friggen hard."

Though the athlete kept a smile on his face during the entire performance, it didn't stop Bruce and Len from picking up on the mistakes that were made.

"It just needed a little more smoothness and a little more elegance," Len said, adding that the Foxtrot wasn't "his dance."

"Don't overthink it. We want to see you flow, my darling," Bruce added.

Carrie Ann, on the other hand, completely disagreed with Len and Bruce's remarks. "You hit those lines and you smiled on cue, so I think you did a great job," she said, giving him a 5. Len and Bruce both gave 3s, totaling 11 out of 30.

Lauren's dance

The country singer danced the Cha-Cha to "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" by Shania Twain with pro partner Gleb Savchenko and the judges were certainly impressed.

"It was like watching a sultry Southern Belle giving me a steaming Cha-Cha the way I like it," Bruce said.

Carrie Ann agreed, calling the dance "really powerful."

The former American Idol finalist received two 6s and a 7, totaling 19 out of 30.

Sailor's dance

So, Sailor wasn't supposed to compete on Season 28 of DWTS — it was her mom, Christie Brinkley, who was initially in the running. However, it was revealed that Christie broke her arm during a rehearsal and asked for her daughter to step in. The only problem is Christie had three weeks of practice before injuring herself, leaving only three days for her daughter to get caught up to speed.

Dancing to "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel, a song that was originally written about the supermodel, with pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy, Sailor did not disappoint.

The judges were very pleased with Sailor, especially due to her minimal practice time. Carrie said she was "blown away" by the performance while Len said she did a "wonderful, wonderful job."

"I can't wait to see what you can achieve with proper rehearsal time," Bruno added.

The model received three 6s, totaling 18 out of 30.

Karamo's dance

The Queer Eye star is teaming up with Jenna Johnson this season, exactly who he wanted as a partner. He danced the Salsa to Lizzo's "Juice" and showed off his strength with a series of difficult lifts.

Although Len complimented the lifts, he said it lacked "hip action" and said it was a "bit disappointing."

Carrie, too, felt like he was holding back in his performance, telling him that he wants him to "pop" more.

He received two 6s and a 5, totaling 17 out of 30.

Ray's dance

The two-time SuperBowl champion danced to "Hot in Herre" by Nelly with partner Cheryl Burke.

"You can definitely turn on the heat," said Bruno, although he called him out for a couple of missteps.

Carrie Ann was also pleased with the performance, saying it was "pretty damn good."

Overall, Ray received 5s across the board, totaling 15 out of 30.

Mary's dance

The iconic singer from The Supremes took the stage with pro dancer Brandon Armstrong. She danced the Foxtrot to her own song, "Baby Love".

"True elegance, true sophistication, you were built to Foxtrot on our stage," Carrie Ann said. "You are just a legend. It's so exciting to have you on our ballroom floor. It was very good."

"I'm the same age as you and I'd like to be able to come out and do a Foxtrot as well as you," Len added.

Bruce shared similar sentiment, "You're a Supreme. You know how to sell it. You know about the glamour and class."

The 75-year-old received two 6s and a 5, totaling 17 out of 30.

Fans at home get to vote next week.

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Ally's dance

The Fifth Harmony singer, who has since launched a solo career, performed the Cha-Cha to her former group's song, "Work From Home" with pro partner Sasha Farber.

Len called Ally a "confident dancer" while Bruno said he loved her "sense of attack."

"There's lacking a balance so you need to find your balance. You gotta keep your core tight," Carrie added.

The pop star received two 5s and a 6, totaling 16 out of 30.

Sean's dance

The former White House Press Secretary paired up with Lindsay Arnold to dance the Salsa to "Spice Up Your Life" by the Spice Girls.

Bruno said the performance was "strangely entertaining" to which Carrie Ann agreed, adding that she was "happily surprised" with how much fun he had.

"I admire your courage coming on this show. You brought fun to the ballroom, Well done," Len said.

But despite the fun, he still earned one of the lowest scores of the night — 4s across the board, totaling 12 out of 30.

James' dance

Saving the best for last? The Dawson's Creek actor was the final dancer of the night, performing the Tango with Emma Slater to "Whatever It Takes" by Imagine Dragons.

"What a way to end the night, we have a leading man in the house," Carrie Ann said. "Damn!"

"It had drive, it had purpose, it was a terrific number. Well done," Len added.

James earned 7s across the board, totaling 21, and the highest score of the night.

Next week

Next week, fans can vote for their favorite stars during the live show. The scores from the premiere will be paired with next week's scores, so these stars still have a chance to change their fate.

Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC