Season 16 kicks off on March 18 on “Dancing with the Stars” and reigning champion Melissa Rycroft picked her early favorites on Monday’s edition of “Good Morning America.” Rycroft said that she likes Jacoby Jones because he is a natural athlete and Zendaya because she is this season’s youngest competitor. However, the all-star champion said that Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough already have a great rapport and may be the couple to watch this season. “Their chemistry is going to take them far,” she claimed on Monday.
Kellie Pickler and pro partner Derek Hough have been keeping fans abreast of their progress on Twitter. On March 17, Kellie revealed that her first dance of the season is the Cha Cha Cha and added, “Nerves are kicking in!” So, how will the “American Idol” veteran and the only three-time champion on “DWTS” fare this season? Because Kellie has a bubbly and fun-loving personality and Derek is one of the most popular pro dancers, the two should have an instant fan base. However, it all comes down to how they overcome nerves and perform on the dance floor.
Kellie Pickler was raised in a small town in North Carolina and was influenced by music legends Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Dolly Patron. At the age of 19, she competed on the fifth season of “American Idol” in 2006. She auditioned in Greensboro and was profiled on “Idol” as a singing waitress. Pickler made it all the way to the Top 6, but was eliminated during Love Songs week. Taylor Hicks defeated Katherine McPhee in the finals and won the season.
Shortly afterward, Kellie signed to 19 Recordings/BNA Records and released her debut album titled “Small Town Girl,” which sold over 800,000 copies and produced three singles: “Red High Heels,” “I Wonder,” and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind.” Pickler released her second album in 2008 and her third in 2012. “Rolling Stone” and “The Washington Post” lauded Pickler’s “100 Proof” album as one of the “Best of 2012.” She’s set to release a new album in 2013.
Dance pro Derek Hough is the only three-time champion on “Dancing with the Stars.” He started dancing in his hometown of Salt Lake City at the age of 11, and just one year later, he moved to London to train with the top coaches in the world and attend a performing arts school.
Hough’s professional ballroom accolades include World Under 21 Latin American Champion, Two-time Open British Champion (Blackpool), Two-time International Open to the World Champion, and Two-time US Open Champion.
Derek Hough first appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2007 and has competed on ten seasons with the following celebrity partners.
- Season 5: Jennie Garth (4th place)
- Season 6: Shannon Elizabeth (6th place)
- Season 7: Brooke Burke (1st place)
- Season 8: Lil’ Kim (5th place)
- Season 9: Joanna Krupa (4th place)
- Season 10: Nicole Scherzinger (1st place)
- Season 11: Jennifer Grey (1st place)
- Season 13: Ricki Lake (3rd place)
- Season 14: Maria Menounos (4th place)
- Season 15: Shawn Johnson (3rd place)
A multi-talented entertainer and three-time Emmy nominee, Derek Hough starred in his first movie, “Cort in Cobu 3D: New York Nights.” In addition, he performed in London’s West End, where he starred as the male lead in the critically acclaimed stage version of “Footloose.” Derek was one of the featured dancers on the “Dancing with the Stars Tour” and served as a choreographer on the BBC hit show, “Dance X.”
In addition to dancing on “DWTS,” Derek has teamed up with sister Julianne Hough to produce and choreograph a new scripted TV drama that revolves around the annual dance competition in Blackpool, England. “Viewers are going to see a twisted, sexy, funny, dark and passionate side of the drama and politics in the world of ballroom dance that delves deeper than spray tans and sequins,” Derek said of his new endeavor.
“Dancing with the Stars” premieres at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, March 18 on ABC. The first results show elimination airs at 9 p.m. on March 26. During last season’s final, Melissa Rycroft defeated fellow all-stars Shawn Johnson and Kelly Monaco to win the mirror ball trophy.
Below are this season’s couples on “Dancing with the Stars”:
- Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess
- Dorothy Hamill and Tristan MacManus
- D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke
- Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff
- Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani
- Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd
- Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold
- Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
- Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson
- Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas
- Lisa Vanderplump and Gleb Savchenko
- Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy