DWTS Premiere 5th Judge: Amanda Kloots Honors Late Husband, JoJo Siwa Makes History

In a season of surprises, Brian Austin Green partners with real-life girlfriend Sharna Burgess, while “Bachelor” star Matt James shows off impressive rhythm and Olivia Jade tries to open a new chapter.

“Dancing with the Stars” kicked off its 30th season with a groundbreaking first, pairing JoJo Siwa with Jenna Johnson to make the first same-sex partnership in the history of the show. But how did they do?

It was wall-to-wall dancing as 15 couples hit the stage for the first week of competition, which included some powerful moments and a surprisingly high quality of overall dancing. At the same time, we have to admit that we gave our first-ever score of 1 (out of 10) this season. Our fellow judges were a little more generous than us, but just barely.

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Amanda Kloots opened up about why she decided to take this step after the heartbreaking loss of her husband Nick Cordero to Covid, while Olivia Jade is hoping to start a new chapter in her life after the college admissions scandal by stepping onto the “DWTS” dance floor.

Perhaps the other big surprise of the night, which should be interesting to watch play out, is the pairing of Brian Austin Green with his real-life romantic partner, Sharna Burgess. Will they be able to keep it professional on the dance floor? Will the chemistry off the show help them or hurt them on it?

And easily the funniest moment of the night had to come when “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kenya Moore started teasing her partner, Brandon Thomas, for how young he was — and he seemed like he thought he might have a chance with the proud (and recently divorced) 50-year-old reality star.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Derek Hough, and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

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Melanie C & Gleb Savchenko

(Cha Cha Cha) “I don’t want to become a meme,” Mel C opined before kicking off her first rehearsal. Luckily for her, she needn’t have worried as this was a great way to start her “DWTS” journey. She came out with a great attitude, a little swivel in those hips and some nice hand and arm extensions. Her footwork was a little heavy at times, so the elegance of her lines and movement was lost in places, but she’s definitely got the tools to settle down into this and have a great run.

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 6, 7

My Score: 6

Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin & Witney Carson

(Cha Cha Cha) Miz hit the sage with a surprisingly cute personality in the way he was partnering Witney. His movements were a little over-the-top, as in exaggerated, larger than life, very WWE. But inside of those over-extended knees and stiff posture was the beginnings of proper technique. In other words, this guy can actually move, though he needs to loosen up a lot — shake it all out! Personality will carry him for a while, but he’s going to have to put in the work.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6, 6

My Score: 5

Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach

(Jive) We didn’t get as much jive content as we would have liked, but still have to give Daniella credit for a great song choice and choreography to get Iman to loosen up on this very different stage. She had him hopping and bopping and moving around in a way that already puts him well above most prior NBA stars on this show. Even better, he was light on his feet, though a little out of control and reckless. The general idea of the jive was there, but he definitely needs to tighten up the form and work on controlling his feet. He’s also dancing a little small, perhaps to match his partner, when he needs to just own his size and be all of himself.

Judges Scores: 7, 4, 5, 5

My Score: 4

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Olivia Jade & Valentin Chmerkovskiy

(Salsa) Acknowledging the college admissions scandal that made her a household name, Olivia said right at the top, “I’m not trying to pull a pity card, but I just need to move forward and do better.” Val had her working for it, but he did most of the work himself. Olivia did a lot of hurrying up to wait for the next move or stunt or flip, so she needs to work on still dancing while setting up what comes next. She was tepid and you could see she was anxious about the whole thing in her movements, but she has a musicality and movement in her body that should allow for some special moments down the road.

Judges Scores: 7, 6, 6, 6

My Score: 5

Jimmie Allen & Emma Slater

(Tango) Where did that come from? We absolutely loved the attitude and presentation that Jimmie gave from the very top. He had so much personality in his movements, you couldn’t help but be drawn into what he was doing. His shoulders were a little high and he missed some of the smooth flow across the floor, but all of the pieces were there. He needs to work on his consistency in frame and form throughout. If he can’t do that, he might make it home in time for his baby’s birth … next month?! No wonder his consistency was off.

Judges Scores: 6, 5, 6, 5

My Score: 6

Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev

(Tango) There’s that stalking glide across the floor you want to see in a Tango. There were moments where she hit her mark and her foot and leg placement was just perfection. It wasn’t every time, with a few stutter-steps, but we can see how well she’s picking all of this up. Melora has the tools in her arsenal from performing ballet in her youth to be a fine dancer to bring the drama, she just needs to learn these new techniques. She won the partner jackpot (reigning champion) and already it’s showing with a great routine that really showcased

Judges Scores: 7, 6, 7, 6

My Score: 6

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Suni Lee & Sasha Farber

(Jive) Suni was absolutely adorable in her facial expressions, trying to loosen up for what was a surprisingly strong debut from the gold medalist Olympican. Gymnastics and dance are very different, but tools learned in one can help in another, and that was definitely the case her. Her core strength was incredible, allowing her the perfect jump and kick action. Mostly we learned, knowing she was scared of doing this and has no experience, that her discipline in training is going to serve her well. Her kicks and flicks and foot action was incredible for a newcomer to the style. She just needs to put herself in the moment and perform!

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7, 7

My Score: 7

Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke

(Tango) He was where he needed to be when he needed to be there, and even can do a flick on command, but his actual dancing was missing the proper tango slide almost entirely. It was as if he was rushing to keep up with Cheryl as she danced across the floor, and you could see it in his rapid steps to try and get into the right place, rather than moving with precision and intention. He had moments of proper frame, but it was inconsistent as he seemed to be dancing inward — more a mental state than physical — than out to the audience.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6, 6

My Score: 3

Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten

(Tango) “This opportunity is kind of a way for me to find myself again and to feel his presence every day,” Amanda said about losing her husband Nick Cordero to Covid when asked why she chose to do the show. She had so much passion in that moment, and it translated to the dance floor as she and Alan debuted what’s already the strongest partnership of the season. She had so much attack throughout this tango, and her lines are incredible. Her footwork may be her only faltering point, but only slightly so. She’s already a front-runner in this competition if this is her Week 1 debut.

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7, 7

My Score: 7

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Martin Kove & Britt Stewart

(Paso Doble) At 74 years old, we applaud Martin for coming out here, but he did almost nothing other than walk around a bit. It was so distracting watching him hold “Karate Kid” poses and stalk around that we couldn’t even enjoy Britt’s fine dancing. But the bottom line is that Martin didn’t dance at all. He got the crowd hyped up, but if this is all he can do with more prep than any future week will allow, he’s going to go nowhere on this show.

Judges Scores: 4, 3, 3, 3

My Score: 1

Kenya Moore & Brandon Armstrong

(Foxtrot) “I think Brandon is trying to flatter me so that when he tries to work me super hard I won’t be so mad at him,” Kenya said after Brandon said she looked like Beyonce. But she quickly added, “It’s not going to work.” Kenya brings a lot of spark to everything she does, and she had that sparkle on the dance floor. She needs to work on her balance and follow through a bit, but she was nevertheless moving and carrying herself with grace and precision. There was recognizable foxtrot with a nice overall carriage. Plus, her and Brandon have a strong connection out there already, which is a good sign of things to come.

Judges Scores: 7, 6, 6, 7

My Score: 7

Christine Chiu & Pasha Pashkov

(Tango) Christine has great lines in her body and the way she extends. She’s clearly having a blast out there, and definitely is into her partner (she hilariously asked to see his abs within minutes of meeting him). That enthusiasm carried over well into the tango, which had a nice quality across the floor. It was clear that Pasha was carrying her a bit — sometimes literally through the turns — as Christine wasn’t quite able to keep up with the tempo, but she’s off to a solid start. Finding out she dislocated a rib during rehearsal ahead of this performance makes us even more optimistic as to what she’ll ultimately be capable of when dancing at her own full potential.

Judges Scores: 6, 7, 6, 6

My Score: 6

Matt James & Lindsay Arnold

(Cha Cha Cha) The “Bachelor” franchise continues to deliver surprisingly strong contestants, and we say surprise because we did not expect this much musicality from Matt. He still needs to own his full height and extensions, and work on what his non-engaged arm is doing at any given moment, and keep consistent footwork and posture, but there was real content there, and great rhythm. We loved the partnering, and some of the tricks Lindsay slipped in there. This could grow into a great partnership as it’s showing tons of potential right now.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6, 6

My Score: 5

Brian Austin Green & Sharna Burgess

(Foxtrot) If this real-life couple can’t manage chemistry on the dance floor, they’ve definitely got a problem. Also, how is BAG going to escape rehearsals if his partner is his girlfriend? He should be the most rehearsed guy on the show! “If I mess this up, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharna left me,” he said. She insisted it wouldn’t happen. As for the actual dancing, he could have been a little lighter on his feet and delivered real foxtrot footwork more consistently, and he was inconsistently in and out of proper posture. But the key is that he was also in proper form much of the time, which means he can hone in on that and tighten up his whole performance.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6, 6

My Score: 6

JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson

(Quickstep) “What I love to do is make truly being who you are easier for kids,” JoJo said of coming out and breaking history as one half of the first same-sex partnership in “DWTS” history. We have to give JoJo credit for trying to cover up a slip on Jenna’s part — “It was a dip, it was choreographed” — as well as her solid work throughout the dance, even in recovery of that. They barely missed a step, and those were coming fast and furious. When they were in sync, it was like one dancer out there. The dreaded quickstep was a walk in the park for this strong pairing right out of the gate. They could be on their way to a boundary-shattering Mirrorball if this is how strong they start.

Judges Scores: 8, 7, 7, 7

My Score: 7

PREDICTIONS

We know “Cobra Kai” is a popular show, but this shouldn’t even be close. Martin Kove appears to be a charming man who loves what he does, but what he didn’t do tonight was dance. His score from the judges was by far the lowest of the night, a full 8 points lower than the second-lowest score (Iman Shumpert). There’s no way votes could offset that, right? And, sorry to say, we don’t see Martin improving enough by next week to change his fate — unless someone else absolutely falls apart or just stands there through their entire routine.

“Dancing with the Stars” will have its first elimination next Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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