'DWTS' highlights: Olivia Jade doesn't pull the 'pity card,' JoJo Siwa grooves with same-sex partner

·6 min read

There were tears, stage villains looking for love, the scandalized seeking redemption, history-making partnerships — and there was some seriously good dancing.

Season 30 of "Dancing With the Stars" exploded on its opening night Monday with 15 stars transformed into ballroom dancing wildcards. They all brought their own brand of dance floor swagger.

Host and executive producer Tyra Banks hit the floor with even more confidence since her rookie season, bringing back her trademark multiple outfit-changes. Len Goodman, stuck in England due to the COVID-19 pandemic last season, returned to the head judge chair (one of four judges alongside Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba and Derek Hough).

With the first eliminations taking place next Monday, all dancers survived the night. Here are the highlights.

'DWTS' cast revealed! 'Cobra Kai' star Martin Kove, Peloton's Cody Rigsby, Olivia Jade join season

Spice Girl Mel C is no 'Wannabe' on the dance floor

On the day following the 25th anniversary of the Spice Girls super-hit "Wannabe" (originally released on September 19, 1996), Sporty Spice made a powerful statement on the ballroom floor. Paired with the forever-shirtless pro partner Gleb Savchenko, Mel C, 47, was the first out of the gates with a cha cha to, wait for it, "Wannabe."

It was a joyous romp even if the smile was a little too fixed (call it opening act nerves)

"You won't be taking any taxi home in the near future," said fellow Brit judge Goodman. Setting the tone for the night, Mel C scored a leading 27 out of 40.

'Bachelor' Matt James rocked Crocs, rolled hips

Paired with pro dancer Lindsay Arnold, "The Bachelor" star Matt James, 29, showed himself to be a quirky dancing partner, wearing Crocs to his first filmed rehearsal. Come dance time, James rocked a charismatic cha cha to Rick James' "Give It To Me Baby" where he showcased impressive stage presence and body rolls like he had no spine. Somehow he found the off-stage camera to look the TV audience bang in the eye with a smile that said, "Good times."

In his judge's review, Goodman said of James' post-"Bachelor" ballroom potential, "Your future is going to be rosy." Bad pun, but true.

The duo scored a 24 out of 40.

JoJo Siwa made history with partner Jenna Johnson, shot to the top

YouTube and "Dance Moms" star JoJo Siwa, who came out as a member of the LGBTQ community earlier this year, had her historic, first-ever same-sex "DWTS" pro partner revealed as Jenna Johnson. During filmed rehearsals, Siwa, 18, asked her partner, "Who technically in this position is the dude?" when practicing their traditional ballroom dance.

In Monday's quickstep to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" — a dance perfectly suited to Siwa's long-honed dance skills — the duo wore matching outfits and were simply en feugo. In one dramatic moment, Johnson slipped during a move. Siwa somehow managed to catch her partner and pull her back to her feet, without really missing a beat.

"History just happened on 'Dancing With the Stars,' " Banks intoned dramatically at number's end.

"This was a groundbreaking moment," said Tonioli. "I'm so high."

The duo shot to the top spot with 29 out of 40 points.

JoJo Siwa opens up about being queer and pansexual, her girlfriend: 'My human is my human'

Wrestling villain 'The Miz' was no heel

Perhaps the biggest question mark on the dance floor were answered with an exclamation point. WWE superstar villain, and self-described "egotistical jerk," Mike "The Miz" Mizanin was made for the nationally televised dancefloor. With no body oil in sight and in a Tommy Bahama-esque Hawaiian shirt, The Miz, 40, vowed, "I'm going to cha cha the hell out of this dance floor." Then he showed off his surprisingly nimble footwork and a beaming smile with pro partner Witney Carson.

"Whitney, you have tamed the beast," said Tonioli as the judges rolled with straight 6 scores. "You were incredible."

The couple earned a 24 out of 40.

Olivia Jade shimmied from scandal to salsa

Olivia Jade, the daughter of "Full House" star Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, who were at the center of the 2019 college admission bribery scandal, noted in her opening video segment that she has been "wrapped up in scandal." But she vowed to reveal another side.

"I’m not trying to pull a pity card, but I need to move forward and do better," Jade, 21, said. "I just want to show people I have a different side to me, I have a strong work ethic."

In a fringed green dress, Jade showed she had done the work for an impressive salsa with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, as her older sister Isabella Rose, 23, cheered from the audience. "This is the start of a brand new chapter," said Inaba, who commented on Jade's "great lines and great legs."

Jade scored a solid 25 out of 40.

Suni Lee showed gold medal grace and grit

It's going to be a fascinating journey watching Olympic gymnastics superstar Suni Lee, 18, bust out of her shell and show us the person behind the competitor. Her moments on "DWTS" opening night showed a pizza-loving teen who is really sure she can't dance. Paired with pro dancer Sasha Farber, Lee showed moments of raw athletic awesomeness — bouncing up from a split with shocking alacrity and giving precise kicks and flicks in her jive.

"My golden girl, you can jive," said Tonioli. Hough summed it up with his critique when he asked for, "a little less perfection, a little more expression."

The duo scored 28 out of 40.

Martin Kove showed no mercy in his paso doble

“Cobra Kai” and “Karate Kid” star Martin Kove, 74, the oldest dancer in the competition, showed flickers of his arch-villain John Kreese. That is before his paso doble started.

Kove opened with a pre-dance speech, an ode to "Karate Kid," preaching, "Weakness, doesn’t exist in the ballroom." He then danced a halting paso doble, showing a few martial arts moves as his partner, Britt Stewart, scurried around the floor in front of flames emerging from a stage machine. Hough called the machinations “unprepared.” Goodman called it “a gallant effort” but still gave a rare 3 score, sending Kove to the bottom of the leader board.

He received a 13 out of 40.

Amanda Kloots brought tears to the dance floor

"The Talk" co-host Amanda Kloots made an emotional outing, talking about the 2020 death of her husband Nick Cordero. "I miss him every single day," Kloots, 39, said, breaking into tears in her introductory video. Monday night, she proceeded to dance a smoldering tango with pro partner Alan Bersten. The dramatic re-emergence had former "The Talk" co-host and judge Inaba in tears.

"You brought tears to my eyes. I know what you have been through. Nick is looking down on you,” said Inaba, who composed herself to give quick advice. “Oh and watch your neck placement.”

Kloots earned a 28 out of 40.

Brian Austin Green stepped out with his girlfriend

The "Beverly Hills, 90210" star surprised absolutely no one when it was revealed that his "DWTS" pro dance partner would be real-life girlfriend Sharna Burgess. The two are a rarity as a couple going into the competition.

Green and Burgess showed enough couple electricity in their intro videos to have Bravo reality show execs fumbling for their mobile phones. "If I mess this up, I wouldn't be surprised if Sharna left me," Green, 48, said in his video. The duo opened their tango with a kiss and danced up a storm.

The couple earned a 24 out of 40.

"Dancing With the Stars" returns Sept. 27 for first eliminations (ABC, 8 EDT/PDT).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'DWTS' recap: JoJo Siwa reveals same-sex partner, Oliva Jade moves

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