It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I’ve got March Madness with the University of Kentucky – here’s hoping for a perfect season – and, on the other end of the spectrum, a new season of “Dancing With The Stars” has gotten underway. You could say I have a bracket lined up for both.

As the tenth anniversary season of “Dancing With The Stars” kicked off Monday night, I had plenty of opinions, but no clear front runners in mind. Actually, just seeing the names had me a little lost on some of the contestants until I looked them up – then all the pieces started coming together. You could easily say that the first night of competition was a surprise. There were those that I expected to do well that sorta… flopped. Then there were celebrities that I expected little from that took me by surprise.

Here’s how everyone stacked up in my book:

Willow Shields (Cha-Cha) – I had no idea what to expect with Willow. She’s someone I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t even know she was only FOURTEEN! She definitely doesn’t present herself as someone that young. She was very poised, and I thought she did a very respectable Cha-Cha to start the show. She could hang in the competition. Judges’ Scores: 6-6-6-7

Robert Herjavec (Cha-Cha) – This is someone that I fully expected to be extremely stiff and not let loose. Boy was I wrong! He had a ton of energy and enthusiasm and wasn’t at all scared to move. Technically it wasn’t a great dance, but he was a lot of fun to watch and much better than I thought he’d be. Although I don’t see him winning the competition, I think we’ll see him for a few more weeks. Judges’ Scores: 7-7-7-7

Riker Lynch (Jive) – I don’t envy anyone that has to perform a Jive week one. It’s a challenging dance period, but Riker had performance experience on his side. He gave a strong performance. The Jive actually suited him well. It’ll be interesting to see how he executes something more refined like a Waltz. Judges’ Scores: 8-7-8-8

Charlotte McKinney (Jive) – This was probably the biggest flop of the night in my book. It just wasn’t good. I had some hopes for her when they showed the rehearsals, but once it got started everything went downhill quickly. My guess is that she will be the first person leaving the ballroom. Judges’ Scores: 6-5-5-6

Patti LaBelle (Foxtrot) – Before the show I was on the fence as to how Patti would do. She’s a legend, but ballroom dancing is completely outside of her wheelhouse. Her dance was simple and elegant, though. I thought she did a wonderful job. It even choked me up to see her express so much emotion during the judging. Judges’ Scores: 7-6-6-6

Chris Soules (Jive) – I’ll start by sharing that I just finished watching “The Bachelor” last week, and I adore Chris. That being said, I really did not expect much from him on the dance floor. He totally took me by surprise! I was expecting stiff and awkward, and he was anything but. I’m not sure how he’ll do in the long run. I think he’s going to have a lot of fan support, though. Judges’ Scores: 7-6-6-7

Michael Sam (Cha-Cha) – This is one of the stars that did exactly what I expected. Michael came out and gave a solid performance, shook his booty, moved his hips, and was fun to watch. Technically it needed some work, but all in all – like I expected – it was a strong performance. Judges’ Scores: 6-6-7-7

Nastia Liukin (Foxtrot) – I remember watching and rooting for Nastia in the Olympics, so I was excited to see how she would do in the ballroom. She didn’t disappoint. She was another dancer that gave exactly what I expected. There was a little slip-up, which Derek admitted later was his fault, but it was a strong dance. Judges’ Scores: 7-7-8-8

Redfoo (Cha-Cha) – Like some of the others, I didn’t expect much from Redfoo, and he delivered on that. The dance was awkward. He’s a close second in my book for the worst dance of the night. As far as scores go, he tied for it. Judges’ Scores: 6-5-5-6

Noah Galloway (Cha-Cha) – What can I say? Noah is a man that I truly admire. He’s faced challenges and has overcome so much to be standing where he is. I think it’s wonderful that he pushes himself. In terms of a dancing competition, he’s got a lot to overcome. I’m honestly not sure how he’s going to do it. Last night I think he did the best he could with the restrictions he has. My guess is that fans will keep him in the competition. Judges’ Scores: 7-6-6-7

Suzanne Somers (Cha-Cha) – This is another dancer that took me by surprise, and not in a good way. I really expected Suzanne to be a lot of fun. Instead the dance was really cautious. She never really let loose. I’ve got to say that I was really disappointed. Maybe it was first night nerves? I don’t know, but I don’t think she’ll be around too long. Judges’ Scores: 6-6-6-7

Rumer Willis (Foxtrot) – WOW! Just wow! I knew very little about Rumer going into this competition. The only thing I could recall seeing her in was “The House Bunny”. I was really unsure what to expect. What I saw, though, completely blew me away. She was so elegant and refined. I can’t wait to see what the season holds because right now she is my favorite! Judges’ Scores: 8-8-8-8

This season could go in a lot of different directions, and fan support always plays a big role in who stays and who goes. If I had to pick my final three right now I would go with Rumer Willis, Willow Shields, and Nastia Liukin. I think Willow will pull in a lot of fan support, Nastia will as well – especially because she is with Derek, and Rumer I think will simply be the one that blows us away week after week.

Let me know your thoughts, and check back each week for my thoughts on the show. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.


Find all of Marlena’s blogs at Laney’s Look.