By Zach Johnson
Fourteen celebrity couples will put their best feet forward—literally!—when Season 32 of Dancing with the Stars is simulcast live this Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC and Disney+. But who will win the Mirrorball Trophy? Their fates will be determined weekly by judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Derek Hough, in addition to the viewers’ votes.
Not only will Season 32 of Dancing with the Stars feature a new co-host, Julianne Hough, joining Alfonso Ribeiro, but it will mark the first live series simulcast on ABC and Disney+. “It’s monumental,” Julianne said prior to Tuesday’s expanded premiere. “It’s never been done before… and it only seems fitting that Dancing with the Stars will be the one to do it.” Not only that, but each episode of Dancing with the Stars will be available to stream the following day on Hulu. “You can’t get rid of us!” Julianne joked. “We’re just gonna be there.”
As previously announced, this season’s celebrities and professional dancers include Tyson Beckford with partner Jenna Johnson, Xochitl Gomez with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, Alyson Hannigan with partner Sasha Farber, Harry Jowsey with partner Rylee Arnold, Charity Lawson with partner Artem Chigvintsev, Ariana Madix with partner Pasha Pashkov, Jason Mraz with partner Daniella Karagach, Adrian Peterson with partner Britt Stewart, Lele Pons with partner Brandon Armstrong, Mira Sorvino with partner Gleb Savchenko, Jamie Lynn Spears with partner Alan Bersten, Mauricio Umansky with partner Emma Slater, Matt Walsh with partner Koko Iwasaki, and Barry Williams with partner Peta Murgatroyd.
In fact, many of the celebrities are just as excited as fans are for Dancing with the Stars to return! “When I got the call from Dancing with the Stars inviting me to be a contestant on this season, I almost dropped the phone!” Williams said with a laugh. “It’s something I have wanted to do for the longest time—almost, you could say, a bucket list [item]. And I have something prove here. My TV mom, Florence Henderson [competed for] five weeks. My TV sister, Maureen McCormick, [competed for] seven weeks. And they both want me to go all the way. Do you hear that, Donny Osmond? I’m coming after your title: oldest man to win!”
Hannigan added, “Honestly, watching the show makes me want to dance—so, here I am!”
Each of the 14 couples will no doubt have their work cut out for them, but they all vowed they’re up for the challenge. “I feel like in order to win the Mirrorball Trophy, you have to work really, really hard,” Madix said. “You have to really be connected to your partner and to the music, and I feel like you really have to have fun—because having fun is contagious.”
Ribeiro, for one, said he can’t wait to see the couples perform for the first time on live television. “It’s going to be so much fun,” he said. “I think this is going to probably be one of the best seasons in a very long time.” Ribeiro added that he’s looking forward to moving from the skybox to the ballroom and hosting alongside Julianne: “It’s going to be amazing!”
Julianne, of course, is no stranger to the award-winning ballroom competition. Celebrating her “family homecoming,” Julianne gushed, “This is one of the biggest full-circle moments, because I was on Dancing with the Stars as a pro—winning two seasons back to back [in Seasons 4 and 5]—and then I was a judge. Now, coming back as a co-host is honestly a dream come true.” In her new role, Julianne said she wants to make the competitors “feel as safe, comfortable, and free as possible. My job is to be up in the skybox with the competitors, to let them feel like they can exhale after they’ve just danced, so they can really speak from the heart. It is a place of comfort and safety; they know I have their backs no matter what. As a judge, I was there to judge. As a pro, I was there to compete. As a host, I’m here to support and wrap my arms around every single one of those competitors.”
Like Julianne, Ribeiro—who won the Mirrorball Trophy in Season 19 with partner Witney Carson—wants to set everyone up for success. “The advice I like to give to contestants is to be themselves—to truly show their hearts. [They have to] let the world get to know them,” Ribeiro explained. “When that happens, the audience will truly fall in love with you. That’s very important in this show. Yes, the judges’ scores are incredibly important—but if the home audience doesn’t fall in love with you, you’re not going to stay all the way to the end. So, you really have to open up completely and let the entire world in. Don’t hold back!”