“Dancing With the Stars” returns tonight for Season 24 on ABC.
It may be the most exciting yet given the caliber of the cast — not in terms of name recognition (Bonner Bolton, anyone?), but for their dance experience.
In recent seasons, it’s been standout performances, not big names, that have drawn viewers week after week. Who can forget Nyle DiMarco turning in memorable routines week after week, despite being deaf. DiMarco was barely known beforehand (he won “America’s Next Top Model”) before claiming the “DWTS” mirror ball trophy in 2016.
The majority of the Season 24 contestants have had some dance or performing experience, which will raise the level of competition. Here are the top contenders.
The “Glee” actress was once a backup dancer for Beyonce, and not since Olympic ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White competed were contestants so heavily favored (Davis won in 2014). Morris competed on “So You Think You Can Dance” before landing on “Glee,” where her dance skills were heavily utilized in complex routines. She’s paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Biles, the 2016 Olympic all-around gymnastics champion, has the athleticism, focus, and experience (floor routines are choreographed tumbling set to music) to challenge Morris. Her teammate, Laurie Hernandez, claimed the top prize last season. She’s paired with Sasha Farber.
Normani, a member of the girl group Fifth Harmony, is used to dancing in music videos and on stage in front of crowds and cameras. That gives her a huge advantage, but she will be competing while touring in Asia. Fatigue may be a factor for the performer. She’s paired with Val Chmerkovskiy.
Erika Girardi, aka Erika Jayne, is a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star and erstwhile pop star. Known for her writhing, sexually-charged music videos and no-nonsense attitude, she could be one to watch this season. She’s paired with Gleb Savchenko.
Kerrigan, a two-time Olympic medalist, also benefits from having worked with choreographers for her figure skating routines for years. She’s known for her elegance. She’s paired with Artem Chigvintsev.
María del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza, aka Charo, has been performing for the better part of six decades. An accomplished concert guitarist, Charo has a natural feel for different rhythms. She could be a dark horse. She’s paired with Keo Motsepe.
Nick, the most recent “Bachelor,” showed off he has decent moves while performing with the Backstreet Boys for a group date this season. He’s definitely had to dance around many on-air relationships. He’s paired with Peta Murgatroyd.
The “SNL” alum played one of the head-bobbing goofballs in “A Night at the Roxbury” opposite Will Ferrell. A master of physical comedy, Kattan will probably go the humorous route to play to his strengths. He’s paired with Witney Carson.
Mr. T, Bonner Bolton, Rashad Jennings and David Ross round out the rest of the cast. All are athletes would can meet the rigorous demands of the show, but may be at a disadvantage versus the other contestants who have prior dance experience.
You’ll have to see how they fare as “Dancing With the Stars” kicks off tonight on ABC.