The new season of “Dancing with the Stars,” which premieres Monday on ABC, will feature 12 celebrities and their pro partners. But there’s been a big shakeup on the hit reality show, as Maksim Chmerkovskiy and other familiar dancers have left while three new pros are making their debut. And as longtime fans of “DWTS” know, the show is always won and lost based on how well the pairs gel. So which duos will get a perfect 10 and which will fail the chemistry test? Will the stars with new pros face a disadvantage? Here, xfinityTV gives predictions on how the season 16 teams will score.
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: Another Olympic gymnast is giving the ballroom a try, and like Shawn Johnson before her, Aly looks like the one to beat. And she’ll be perfect with two-time “DWTS” champ Mark, who took her friend Shawn to first place on season 8 and another Olympic athlete, ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi, to victory in Season 6. Mark’s hungry to win again after a long drought. And Aly’s skill in the gymnastics floor exercise can easily be converted into the partner dances. Also, Aly and Mark will be pleasingly family friendly for “DWTS” fans. Watch for Aly’s mother, Lynn Faber, famed for her frenzied cheering during the Olympics, and Mark’s dad, professional dancer Corky Ballas, to be lending the duo lots of support from the audience. It should all add up to a mirror ball to add to Aly’s trophy case! Our Score: 10
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: Super Bowl fans who remember the football player’s heroics earlier this year (and who wouldn’t?) are already in his corner, so Jacoby could be primed to run away with the show. Plus, football stars are always a threat to win DWTS, as Jacoby’s fellow gridiron greats Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, and Donald Driver can attest! Karina and Jacoby should click because they both have lovably wacky personalities. In fact, Jacoby has told Xfinitytv that Karina is a female version of him and they understand each other. The reason Xfinitytv is marking Jacoby and Karina down a point? The football player revealed that due to minor knee surgery, he had to start practicing with his partner a little bit later than the other competitors. But he’s sure to catch up! Our Score: 9
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: The former “American Idol” singer is the first from that reality show to cross over to “DWTS,” and Kellie will be a breath of fresh air on the show with her down home country style. Physically, she and three-time mirror ball champ Derek look like one of the best couples of the season, as they are both young and blonde and even have matching hairdos thanks to Kellie recently shaving her head in tribute to a cancer-stricken friend. Rehearsal footage is already showing that Kellie boasts some awesome leg extension ability (shades of last season’s All-Star winner Melissa Rycroft!) and “DWTS” golden boy Derek does the very best with every partner he’s given. Will Kellie be his golden girl for an unprecedented 4th series win? We think it’s very possible! Our Score: 9
Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold: The boxer is teamed with one of Season 16’s new pro dancers, which might mean the couple will have to build a fan base fast. However, Lindsay isn’t a complete unknown to reality show fans, as she starred on season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance. She’s been through the TV judging experience before, which should help this team greatly. Also, at the new cast and partner unveiling event last month, Lindsay and Victor looked to us like a potential “showmance” for this season! The handsome boxer, who said he didn’t have a girlfriend, and blonde beauty seemed to look good together and Lindsay even cooed to xfinityTV, “He’s so buff and strong and manly!” And Victor told us that his friend Mario Lopez, “DWTS” Season 3 runner up, planned to give him and Lindsay some advice. Don’t count them out! Our Score: 8
Dorothy Hamill and Tristan MacManus: America’s sweetheart and her charming Irish partner could be a threat for top 3 this season. Dorothy’s fellow Olympic skaters Kristi Yamaguchi and Evan Lysacek glided to success on “DWTS,” and with her knowledge of choreography, she should do the same. The only thing going against the ice queen is that she’s 56, five years older than the oldest person to ever win the show (Season 9‘s Donny Osmond). But Tristan is used to working with iconic women of a certain age, as he guided Nancy Grace to a strong 5th place in Season 13 and Gladys Knight to 8th in Season 14. The gentlemanly pro never overshadows his partners, but lets them shine. That should serve Dorothy well, and their similar thoughtful and serious personalities look like a match made in ballroom heaven. Our Score: 8
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko: The good news? “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star, 52, already has a built-in fan base from that other reality show on Bravo. The bad news? Her pro, Gleb, is completely unknown to “DWTS” viewers. Still, the show seems to be marketing gorgeous Gleb as the hunk who will cause the ladies to ask, “Maks who?” They look good together and female fans, fiftysomething ones in particular, could embrace beautiful (very married) Lisa and her handsome partner as a cool older woman/younger man fantasy couple. If blunt-spoken Brit Lisa orders Gleb around, that would be fun, too! Plus, we hear Lisa’s dog, Giggy, is lightening the mood in rehearsal. Our Score: 7
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: The “General Hospital” hunk and two-time “DWTS” pro champ are already speaking each other’s language, as both were raised in Australia. Will that translate into a partnership that will get soap fans in a lather? We’ll have to see, but Ingo spends most of his free time in athletic endeavors, which sounds like it should translate well to the ballroom. Meanwhile, the Aussies get each other’s jokes and they should be a drama-free team. One thing going against this couple, however, is that except for Kelly Monaco, soap stars usually flame out before reaching the “DWTS” finale. Kym, a dedicated professional and show veteran, will try to turn that around. Our Score: 7
Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani: The country singer’s popularity should soar with the “DWTS” demographic, and she hand-picked Tony to be her partner, which is a very good sign. Wynonna has been tweeting enthusiastically about the “Albanian cowboy,” as Tony is rehearsing with the star at her ranch. But will Wy, who has been incredibly open about her weight struggles, be physically ready for the show’s many challenges? The beloved country star told xfinityTV that she has a work ethic and stamina second to none. Meanwhile, coming off his emotional “All-Stars” win last season, Tony is at the top of his game. Wynonna says she’s been getting advice from Season 12 runner up and “All-Stars” competitor Kirstie Alley. That sounds fitting, and we hope Wynonna is this season’s Kirstie! Our Score: 6
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd: “The Bachelor” star was a last-minute addition to the “DWTS” cast and taking his shirt off on the dance floor (as he did many times on his previous ABC reality show) could keep female fans voting for him. But Sean has to be careful not to get too sexy with his partner Peta and offend viewers who were so touched by his proposal to “Bachelor” beauty Catherine Giudici. In fact, we knocked Sean’s score down a bit because we wonder if Peta, who had a ten-month romance with fellow “DWTS” pro Maks, will be too hot to handle for born-again virgin Sean. Plus, did Sean and Peta get in enough rehearsal time? Our Score: 6
Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy: She can already dance hip hop, but the Shake it Up star claims “DWTS” will be a whole new experience of partner dancing. Disney star Zendaya, just 16, could get votes for youthful energy, but her fan base is too young for the show and she’ll have to work hard to be as good as her co-star Roshon Fegan, who finished 6th on “DWTS” Season 14. Also, Zendaya seems way too girlish for her gruff partner Val. Still, Val seemed totally into his new teaming. “She has presence and I think that’s very important. I’m excited to build choreography that will complement that,” he told Xfinitytv. Zendaya said she liked how well Val did with Kelly Monaco last season. But remember, girl, Val and Kelly had a showmance, and that sure ain’t happening for you! Our Score: 6
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess: Comedians bring the laughs but never fare well on “DWTS.” Ask Adam Carolla and Jeffrey Ross! Andy also has the handicap of a troubled past which includes arrests and stints in rehab. Will it all be too much for “DWTS” fans? Not having a well-known pro next to him might also make the season hard. But his partner Sharna, one of the new dancers on the show, insisted to xfinityTV that viewers will embrace the new clean and sober and lovable Andy and she also revealed he has picked up the foxtrot like a natural. “I think we’re discovering he has dance talent. I think Andy will be the surprise of the season,” Sharna said. We hope that’s as much fun as it sounds, but will have to see this couple in action to believe it. Our Score: 5
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke: Another comedian, D.L., will have a tough road ahead of him trying to prove he can dance as well as make people laugh. With so many flashier competitors this season, will D.L. get lost in the shuffle? He seems to have an easygoing relationship with Cheryl so far. While veteran pro partner Cheryl will do her typical great job, making sure she teaches D.L. all the right moves, our guess is he’ll sadly uphold DWTS tradition and only get so far, like other comedian dancers. There just aren’t enough votes there for the funnymen. Our Score: 5
Season 16 of “Dancing with the Stars” premieres Monday night at 8/7c on ABC.