It felt like it took ABC forever to announce the cast of Dancing With the Stars season 27, leaving fans to speculate on who might hit the floor. Well, the rumor mill can officially shut down: The cast has been identified. We now know who will trade in their civilian gear for sequined bodysuits and tangerine spray tan with the hope of securing the coveted Mirrorball Trophy.
In true DWTS tradition, there aren’t a lot of household names in the cast. So who are these people, and what do you need to know? I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned, but first, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Lincee, and I’ll be your wise DWTS guide for season 27. Am I qualified to escort you through this season? I’m glad you asked.
Seriously though: I’ve been watching the show since season one, rejoicing with my favorite winners and rolling my eyes at the ones I despised. I’ve witnessed the evolution of the ballroom, the costumes, the choreography, and host Tom Bergeron’s blatant disregard for rules. I also have a background and dance, and will do my best to help you understand what’s going on each week. I plan to discuss important topics such as Wonky Dance Moves, Freshly Waxed Chest Hair, Val’s Abs, and Who’s Dating Who Behind the Velvet Curtain.
But first, I’ve done some sleuthing to get you a little more familiar with the cast before the Sept. 24 premiere.
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber
If you are a child of the ‘80s, like me, then this pairing should give you all the patriotic feels — and if you’re a child of the ’90s or ’00s and you have no clue who gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton is, prepare for your life to be forever changed when you click this link. That’s right: Mary Lou is a badass, and also the first-ever female athlete to be pictured on a Wheaties box.
She’s also a perfect partner for Sasha Farber. They are both on the shorter side, they can both tumble, and their effervescent personalities are sure to charm the pants off even the curmudgeon-iest of judges. When Mary Lou smiles, the world smiles with her. She’s already in my top five.
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Bobby Bones is the host of a nationally syndicated country music radio show. Even though he is a big name in the industry and probably has superstars like Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood in his contacts marked as “L-Dawg” and “Legs,” you won’t find Bobby in a belt buckle or a cowboy hat — he’s a particularly dapper gentleman.
Granted, I have no idea if Bobby Bones can dance. What I do know is that his partner Sharna is one of the top professionals who has never won a mirrorball trophy. If Bobby can count to eight and walk at the same time, we may have a contender on our hands.
Grocery Store Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
If you look up “aw shucks” in the dictionary, Grocery Store Joe’s face will probably be there. He’s the lovable loser of Becca’s season of The Bachelorette, sent packing on night one. His nickname is Grocery Store Joe because — you guessed it — he owns a grocery store. Apparently, there was so much national affection for this guy that ABC sent him to Bachelor in Paradise, and now, he’s on Dancing With the Stars. No word yet on who is manning the grocery store in his absence. As a self-proclaimed non-dancer, Jenna Johnson might have her work cut out for her. Bachelor Nation votes can only take you so far.
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy
Half of the DWTS audience will know Nancy as our favorite tomboy Jo on the sitcom The Facts of Life. The younger half will know Nancy as Demi Lovato’s mom on the Disney Channel’s Sonny with a Chance. At 52, Nancy is one of the oldest contestants, but she scored ballroom powerhouse Val as her partner. My prediction is that their routines will be simple and clean — a perfect thematic choice for a former sitcom star.
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Everyone knows that Cheryl is the queen of the ballroom. She won way back in DWTS season to with Drew Lachey and then again in season three with Emmitt Smith. Her partners are typically strong men who often complain about how mean Cheryl can be in the rehearsal studio. They inevitably respect her for it when they go far in the competition.
Juan Pablo is probably best known as Kimmy Gibbler’s husband on Netflix’s Fuller House, which I suppose means that he’s not very well known. No shade, though: I have every confidence that this guy will be a dark horse. If he has any sort of personality, he’ll go far.
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
I had to do some research about good old Alexis Ren. According to Wikipedia, Alexis Ren is an internet celebrity. Context clues tell me she’s also a model. Although I’ve never heard her name before, 12.8 million other people have — that’s how many followers she has on Instagram. This is an incredibly smart move on ABC’s part. The potential for her young audience to tune in to see Alexis strut it with Alan is worth whatever they had to pay her to join the roster. Heck, if a fraction of her fans turn on the TV, it will be huge. And mark my words, there will be extensive chemistry between Alexis and Alan. Rumors will swirl that they are dating and I am already here for it.
John Schneider and Emma Slater
You might not known John Schneider by his real name, but you probably know him by his fake ones. He played,Beauregard “Bo” Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard , and Jonathan Kent — Superman’s dad — on Smallville. Yes, that guy. According to TMZ, Mr. Schneider has found himself in a bit of financial distress and was sentenced to three days in jail for failure to pay owed alimony to his ex-wife. Instead of having his cousin Luke or his superhero son bail him out, John willingly stayed in the clinker for the three days. And now he’s on Dancing with the Stars. Life is truly a journey.
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
DeMarcus is a big-time outside linebacker, drafted by the Dallas Cowboys back in 2005. Football players are notoriously popular on this show — four have “winner” next to their names, and several have been runners-up. If DeMarcus can move on the floor like he once moved on the field, he might sneak up on everyone. Lindsay is an amazing choreographer and will definitely give him a leg up in the competition. A very long, toned leg up.
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsev
Danelle is an American alpine skier and Paralympian with a genetic eye condition. She’s completely blind and counts on her husband Rob to be her sight guide down the slopes. In short? She’s pretty much a rockstar, and I’m so glad she has sweet Artem as her sight guide on the dance floor — this pairing is sure to be one of the most interesting to watch.
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Milo Manheim played Zed in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Zombies. He’s no Zac Efron, but he sure comes close. My bet is that Milo will master anything Witney throws his way. But the first-place winner will all come down to who steals the audience’s hearts. As the youngest one in the cast (read: all the energy in the world), I think Milo is definitely top five material.
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong
Tinashe is a 25-year-old singer, a songwriter, a dancer, a record producer, an actress, and a model. I really hope she learns to apply herself one day.
Seriously though. This girl is everywhere. She’s also in some sort of love triangle that involves a Kardashian. I hope the drama doesn’t follow her to the ballroom — Brandon probably would prefer a stress-free environment, since this is his very first time to be a professional on Dancing with the Stars. It’s weird to think that in season six, he danced around as a kid in a spotlight dance to “Phantom of the Opera.”
Or is it weird that I know that fact? Your call.
Nikki Glaser and Gleb Savchenko
Nikki is a stand-up comedienne, podcaster, and radio personality. I am unfamiliar with her work but plan to get familiar as soon as I have time to process the sheer volume of contestants on this show. Gleb Savchenko, however, is a very attractive pro-dancer. I am familiar with his handsome face. That’s all I have on these two for now, but stay tuned.
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
If you are a Potterhead, you will recognize Evanna, who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies. She’a all grown up now and hopefully just as quirky as the character she played on the beloved series. Just keep a close eye on her, as magic is strictly forbidden in this competition.
There you have it: The season 27 cast of Dancing with the Stars. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go purchase my viewing leotards. See you again next week, when we all hit the dance floor.