'Dancing With the Stars' Season 24 Preview: Best Team Names, Elimination Predictions and More!
By Desiree Murphy and Angelique Jackson
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Dancing With the Stars fans, are you ready for an all-new season?
Ahead of Monday's premiere, airing at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, ET's filling you in on everything you need to know about what to expect from season 24. From what's been happening in rehearsals to who has the best team names, we've got you covered.
So from the time the dance pros find out which celebrity they're paired with to actual show day, what exactly happens? ET caught up with Witney Carson last Friday, who broke it all down for us!
"We'll actually start rehearsing about three weeks prior to the premiere date, and that is usually a little sporadic," she explained. "Usually [the stars] are still traveling and trying to get their schedules cleared so they can be available. But for the most part, we practice every day for 4-5 hours, and a lot of that is getting to know each other, finding their music, learning their likes and dislikes, getting to know their personality and what they're OK to do, finding their strengths and weaknesses."
"A LOT goes into these practices because we really need to gauge, as choreographers, what we can do to make them look the best, and what we need to stay away from," she continued. "It's a lot of test and trial, and a lot of just teaching them basic techniques so they're ready for when we go into the season, [when] we only have four days to teach them the routine. It's really important for us to get the groundwork started beforehand. So, those three weeks are really crucial for us. I don't know how we would do [it] if we didn't have those weeks."
BREAKING DOWN THE HOT PAIRS
Fans of the show have known for a while now whose competing with who for the coveted mirror ball trophy, but what are the stars really like in rehearsals when the cameras aren't rolling? Well, we got the scoop!
Mr. T & Kym Herjavec
The nostalgia factor will be way turned up when Mr. T and two-time mirror ball champion Kym Cha Cha to the theme from The A-Team on Monday night. But the real reason the retired professional wrestler has already won our hearts is his enthusiasm for the show. Mr. T has tweeted about his DWTS journey 35 times (and counting!) since the cast was announced earlier this month, gushing about the other contestants and thanking the fans for their support. Here are some of our favorites:
This Dancing is really making Me Sweat off the Lbs. I've already lost 12! I am Lean, Mean and 219. I am Agile, Mobile and Hostile. Grrr!
Fun fact: Mr. T is this season's oldest male contestant. His 65th birthday is on Tuesday, just one day after the season premiere.
Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess
The professional bull rider and red-headed beauty are going country for week No. 1! Although choosing their team name, DenimNDiamonds, was fairly easy (Sharna told ET last week that it was Bonner who came up with the name), selecting a country tune proved to be a bit more challenging.
Sharna said she actually reached out to her season 20 partner, Noah Galloway, for song suggestions via text. In the end, the team chose "Move" by Luke Bryan, which they'll Cha Cha to. "I love country ballads because I think they’re some of the most incredible romantic songs in the world, [but] rock 'n' roll country, I've never done a Cha Cha to in my life," Sharna explained, teasing the choreography will be sexy. "There's probably going to be a twelve-pack in there somewhere."
Fun fact: Bonner, 29, has always been a real cowboy. He was raised on a ranch in West Texas, and his father was a rodeo cowboy for nearly 20 years. Like Sharna's partner last season, James Hinchcliffe, Bonner also suffered a near-fatal injury after being bucked off the back of a bull in January 2016.
Heather Morris & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
With no elimination during the first week of the competition, this talented pair is already looking ahead to week No. 2 and Heather's most feared dance, the jive.
"I know it's supposed to be fun, but I'm nervous about it," the former Glee star admitted to ET when we visited the pair during rehearsals last week. "I'm going to work my [butt] off to get it done, but it's going to be hard."
For their first piece of choreography, Heather and Maks are taking on the Viennese Waltz, which the pro dancer describes as a "safe choice" to ease them into the competition. Because Heather already has prior dance experience (she's performed with Beyoncé!), they've been focusing their rehearsals on turning her into a ballroom dancer by breaking old jazz habits that don't pertain to this style.
Fun fact: Heather and Maks are both parents. Heather shares two kids, Elijah, 3, and Owen, 1, with husband Taylor Hubbel, and Maks just welcomed his first child, son Shai, with fellow pro dancer Peta Murgatoryd two months ago.
Chris Kattan & Witney Carson
According to Witney, the Saturday Night Live veteran is up for anything -- including the sparkles! "He's pretty fearless," the blond beauty told ET. "There's nothing he's really said 'no' to."
Witney also revealed that Chris has been a longtime fan of DWTS, explaining just how hard he's been working to get ready for their Cha Cha to Haddaway's "What Is Love." But even Witney was surprised by how far the A Night at the Roxbury star's enthusiasm for the show goes.
"I put him in this just plain suit this week -- it's really normal," she said. "And I thought he'd be happy, but he was kind of a little disappointed. He wanted more of the bling, and a little more pizzazz. I was like, 'Wow, I don't think I've ever had a guy celebrity tell me that before.' It's very rare. He's ready to go full-force with it all."
Fun fact: Chris was super pumped when he found out he was paired with Witney. He's been cheering her on for a long time, and even talked to her about watching her season 19 journey, in which she took home the mirror ball trophy with Alfonso Ribeiro.
Charo & Keo Motsepe
At 66 years old, Charo is this season's oldest competitor, but you wouldn't know that from her dance moves. The famous international actress and flamenco guitarist has everyone doing her signature "cuchi-cuchi" dance, including fellow competitor Erika Jayne.
For week No. 1, the actress and comedian will take on the salsa to Mambo Compañeros' "Cuban Pete" with Keo. It's pretty safe to say, we can expect some spice!
Fun fact: This is only Keo's fifth time dancing as a pro. Could this be the season he takes home a mirror ball trophy?
Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater
Spray tans and barely-there costumes are a way of life on DWTS, so it's no surprise that staying fit is part of the job. The NFL pro and his partner have already been keeping us entertained with their workout videos, which they post at the end of each rehearsal. The pair will be performing to Bruno Mars' "24K Magic," and we have our fingers crossed in hopes of getting a glimpse of Rashad's abs:
For further proof of just how in sync this team is, just look at their handshake:
Fun fact: Back when Rashad was in high school in his hometown of Forest, Virginia, he described himself as a "270 lb. chubby kid with asthma and glasses." It wasn't until the very last game of his junior year that he got any playing time on the football field.
Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev
The 47-year-old former Olympic figure skater is trading in her ice skates for dancing shoes, and couldn't be more "excited." Although she says she's "having fun," she's also "nervous" about making her ballroom debut on Monday.
Fun fact: Figure skaters have an impressive track record on DWTS. Meryl Davis and Kristi Yamaguchi both won their seasons, while Evan Lysacek placed second and Charlie White came in fifth when they competed. If Nancy and Artem look as good on the dance floor as they do on the ice, they should be in the competition for quite a long time!
David certainly knows how to go out with a bang -- he retired from professional baseball after 15 seasons and became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a home run as the Chicago Cubs won their historic World Series title in 2016. But will his skills translate to the dance floor? He and Lindsay have the notoriously difficult quickstep for their first dance, to Steve Goodman's "Go Cubs Go."
Fun fact: David is the first professional baseball player to ever compete on the show. Does he have what it takes to make history again, by bringing home a DWTS win?
Peta's got her groove back, and we're psyched! After taking some time off and giving birth two months ago, the two-time champion is returning to the ballroom with Nick to defend her season 22 title, which she won with Nyle DiMarco.
Her fiancé, Maksim, gushed to ET last week about how much this competition means to his lady, saying, "her making this comeback is a big deal."
Fun fact: During rehearsals last week, the pair -- who will be dancing the Cha Cha to "Let Me Love You" by DJ Snake and Tiesto featuring Justin Bieber -- received a visit from Nick's fiancé, Vanessa Grimaldi, and baby Chmerkovskiy for the cutest social media moment of the season so far.
Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko
Erika & Gleb already have one guaranteed fan! Earlier this month, DWTS co-host Erin Andrews told ET that she's a huge fan of the reality star, and is really excited to see her on the dance floor. Additionally, Sharna said the pair "have a really fun chemistry between them." That comment had us wondering -- is it possible we could get another iconic choreography moment from Gleb? After all, who could forget that steamy shower routine he performed with Jana Kramer last season?
Fun Fact: Erika and Glen are dancing a salsa version of the reality star's own single, "XXPEN$IVE," on Monday. We can only hope the piece will feature some of the same sexy moves she performs in the track's official music video.
Normani Kordei & Val Chmerkovskiy
Reigning champ Val is hitting the road for the second season in a row! The pro dancer will be following his partner, Normani, and her Fifth Harmony bandmates all over the world as they continue their 7/27 tour. The tour, which began last year, is heading to Asia next and will wrap up in May.
Like Lindsay and David, the pair's first dance is the quickstep.
Fun fact: In case you missed it, Normani taught Val the moves to 5H's "Work From Home" dance during a break from rehearsals. Perhaps he'll make a surprise appearance onstage during one of their tour shows?
Simone Biles & Sasha Farber
You know what they say, "Be careful what you wish for."
When rumors swirled last year that the Olympic gymnast may be joining the show's 23rd season, Simone told ET that she would love to be paired with Sasha. Now officially cast in the season 24 competition with Sasha, things appear to be going well.
The pair have been dancing, laughing and flipping together while training for their tango to "Untouchable" by Tritonal and Cash Cash in Texas.
Fun fact: If the duo makes it to the finals, this will be Sasha's first appearance in the top group. With Simone's winning track record (the girl's got five Olympic medals!), we feel pretty safe about putting our bets on this pair.
From season to season, the team names keep getting better. We've organized all of the pair's official social media hashtags, in order from most to least creative:
Peta just gave birth to her first child, son Shai and Nick just competed on The Bachelor. This team name is pure genius!
We couldn't think of a better possible name for glam goddess Sharna and casual cowboy Bonner.
No explanation needed - this name is just as cute as Simone and Sasha!
We see what you did there, Erika and Gleb! For DWTS fans who may not be familiar with the reality star-turned-pop diva, "XXPEN$IVE" is the name of her sassy new single.
One of Chris' most iconic characters from his Saturday Night Live skits was the brightly dressed, exotic male dancer, Mango. And, we can only hope that hilarious accent comes out, too, when Chris takes the stage to dance with Witney.
Lindsay, the blond beauty. David, now a retired Chicago Cubs player nicknamed "Grandpa Rossy." Makes total sense, and we love it!
Who doesn't love some fun wordplay? Maksimum = Maks, Heat = Heather. It's not incredibly creative, but it does stand out.
If you don't understand the epic "fools" reference here, it's time to do some research on Mr. T before he and Kym show America what they've got!
"I've been inspired by how much Rashad likes to give back to the kids in the community," Emma said of the inspiration behind her and Rashad's name. "He has an amazing foundation, and the [volunteers] from that foundation call themselves the Shad Squad."
Val and Normani were originally going with "Booty and the Beast," but changed it last minute when Val's former partner, Zendaya, suggested a name tweak. "I luh you sis @zendaya," the Fifth Harmony starlet tweeted. "Thanks for convincing me that Booty&TheBeast wasn't it lmao."
Although this is a perfect fit for Charo and Keo, we're ranking this low on the list because it was exactly what we expected from the pair.
Nancy and Artem are only last on our list because they literally just came up with their team name at the last minute. We're still rooting for you though!
We have yet to officially see any of the stars step foot in the ballroom, but if we had to make predictions on who will be taking home the season 24 mirror ball trophy our guesses would go to Heather and Maks, Normani and Val, or Simone and Sasha.
Based on professional picks from the Wynn Las Vegas, Erika and Gleb, Chris and Witney and Charo and Keo are expected to be the bottom three couples, and the first to face elimination.
Simone & Sasha - 3 to 1 Normani & Val - 9 to 2 Heather & Maks - 5 to 1 Nancy & Artem - 7 to 1 Rashad & Emma - 9 to 1 Bonner & Sharna - 14 to 1 David & Lindsay - 16 to 1 Mr. T & Kym - 20 to 1 Nick & Peta - 22 to 1 Charo & Keo - 25 to 1 Chris & Witney - 35 to 1 Erika & Gleb - 40 to 1
Battle of the Athletes
Having athletes on the show is nothing new, but this season features SIX stars who were all pros in their sports at one point -- Simone, Rashad, Nancy, David, Bonner and Mr. T!
Reality Star Showdown
It's The Bachelor vs. Housewives! Nick and Erika are both stars on two of the most popular reality shows we've ever seen on TV. Now we'll finally get a chance to see them outside of their elements (no roses or drama here!). But who will be the more talented contestant?
Are YOU excited for season 24 of Dancing With the Stars? Which team will you be rooting for? Let us know on Twitter (@desireemurphy_ & @angelique814) or in the comments section on our official Facebook page! And be sure to follow all of our DWTS coverage all season long, right here on ETonline.com.