Top 10 Debut Dances on Dancing with the Stars
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Top 10 Debut Dances on Dancing with the Stars

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
These "DWTS" dancers hit the floor running with these debuts. For this list, we'll be looking at the best first impression routines on the dance show that made us think, “Hey, they might just be the ones to watch this season.” Our countdown includes Jordan Fisher, Zendaya, Alfonso Ribeiro, and more!
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Top 10 Debut Dances on Dancing with the Stars


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Debut Dances on Dancing with the Stars

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best first impression routines on the dance show that made us think, “Hey, they might just be the ones to watch this season.”

Which debut dance is your no.1? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Charli D'Amelio & Mark Ballas’ Cha-cha-cha
“Savage (Major Lazer Remix)” by Megan Thee Stallion


Season 31 got off to a strong start with several outstanding debut dances. Wayne Brady and Witney Carson’s lit up the dance floor with a fiery Cha-cha-cha, while Selma Blair and Sasha Farber pulled at our heartstrings with an emotional Viennese Waltz. However, arguably the night’s standout performance came from social media star Charli D’Amelio and her partner Mark Ballas. The world of Ballroom and Latin is a far cry from TikTok dance trends, yet the Cha-cha-cha choreography comes naturally to her, and it’s clear she’s having a blast. If this is what she could achieve in week one, we couldn’t wait to see what she did next. This routine gets all the likes from us.

#9: Rumer Willis & Valentin Chmerkovskiy’s Foxtrot
“Take Me to Church” by Hozier


The actress takes to the Foxtrot so well that it’s hard to believe this was her first time in the ballroom. She really understood the assignment giving us so much more than just the choreography. Their performance was hypnotic, passionate, and intense at times and light and graceful at others. You can tell how comfortable Willis is on the dancefloor, and she exudes joy throughout the routine. In a short time, she and Val clearly developed a tight bond that shines in this dance. They scored eights across the board, and Len even called it “the dance of the night.” It might’ve only been week one, but Rumer had it that they would go far.

#8: Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas’ Waltz
“It is You (I Have Loved)” by Dana Glover


The Olympic gymnast and her partner, Mark Ballas, left us breathless with their beautiful waltz in week one of season eight. Johnson channeled her expertise into creating a graceful, lyrical, and elegant routine, and the outcome was mesmerizing. It radiates romance and packs plenty of emotion; we can’t tear our eyes away from her smiling face or delicate movements. They scored 23, coming joint second on the leaderboard, and she’d continue to improve week by week. Johnson returned for the All-Stars season, this time partnered with Derek Hough. As they performed a Foxtrot for their debut dance, we were reminded that watching Shawn dance is always a “Good Time.”

#7: Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Cha-cha-cha
“All Night” by Icona Pop


The Cha-cha-cha can often be one of the more challenging dances for celebrities with its weird counts and unnatural leg placements. But then you see someone like Meryl Davis master it during her debut performance and think, surely it can’t be that hard!? Well, you’d be mistaken. Davis nails the routine, going harder than anyone deserved in week one. Her movements are sharp, her musicality is on point, and it’s so speedy that it’s over before we even have a moment to realize what a feat she’s just achieved. If this was Davis at the start of her “Dancing with the Stars” journey, we had no doubt she would glide straight toward the mirrorball.

#6: Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas’ Cha-cha-cha
“Don't Cha” by The Pussycat Dolls


This Cheetah Girl is no stranger to a dance floor, but she quickly learned that Ballroom and Latin is a whole other world. In fact, ahead of her debut routine, she had to unlearn many habits she’d picked up as a hip-hop dancer. Mark Ballas decided to bring together the best of both worlds, allowing Bryan a few moments in her comfort zone but ultimately showing that he had successfully turned her into a phenomenal Latin dancer. Their Cha-cha-cha was fun, cheeky, and fierce, and the judges commended her on her sharp footwork, even if they weren’t ecstatic about the hip-hop parts. If you ask us, it was fresh, exciting, and totally Cheetah-licious.

#5: Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough’s Jive
“Crocodile Rock” by Elton John


As any DWTS fan knows, a Jive demands high stamina and quick movements, which is a lot to handle in week one before you’ve built up your endurance. Still, Bindi takes to it like a duck to water, throwing all her youthful energy at it and approaching the routine with the same passion she applies to her conservation work. This dance is incredibly full on, with barely a moment to breathe between each move; clearly, Derek saw the potential in his dance partner from the start. Irwin dances it impeccably, but we’re more drawn to her dynamic performance skills and infectious charisma. What more can we say? This dance c’rocked!

#4: Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold’s Tango
“There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back” by Shawn Mendes


Star of stage and screen, Jordan Fisher quickly cemented himself as a fan favorite in season 25. You might say that it all began with his Tango back in week one, which fired up the dance floor. Lindsay threw in so much choreography, ensuring every second of the music showcased her partner’s incredible talent. It also had all the passion and drama required to turn a good routine into a sensational one. Speaking of unforgettable debut dances from season 25, it would be amiss if we didn’t at least shout out Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas’ Cha-cha-cha. Still, Fisher’s dance told us that “There’s Nothing Holdin’ [Him] Back” from winning that mirrorball.

#3: Zendaya & Valentin Chmerkovskiy’s Contemporary
“Feel Again” by OneRepublic


The former Disney Channel star kicked off her “Dancing with the Stars” stint with an astonishing Contemporary routine. The choreography is so elegant; she glides through it with grace and dedication. The way she and Val move together is magnetic and shows great promise for dances to come. It was the perfect style to show off her talents and break free of her child-star reputation. We couldn’t imagine how she could possibly get any better, but we knew she would. Of course, Kellie Pickler and her partner Derek Hough won that season. And when you watch their first dance, you can see that Zendaya and Val had tough competition. Either couple would’ve been worthy winners.

#2: Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson’s Jive
“3-6-9” by Cupid feat. B.o.B


Before his time on the show, Riberio was known for one particular dance. But when he closed out the season 19 premiere, he proved that the Carlton was just a smidge of what he could do. Witney throws everything into this routine, filling each second with intricate, fast-paced, and high-energy choreography. Riberio gets through the dance without missing a step, making it look effortless. The Jive was unbelievable and certainly set a high bar for the rest of the season; Len even called it the best dance of the night. From this routine alone, we knew that this pairing would be almost as iconic as Will and Carlton. We could watch them all day.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten’s Tango, “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj
Jackson Sharply Hits Each “Super Bass” of the Music

Milo Manheim & Witney Carson’s Cha-cha-cha, “Free Free Free” by Pitbull feat. Theron Theron
This Cha-Cha-Cha Was Hot, Hot, Hot

Adam Rippon & Jenna Johnson’s Cha-cha-cha, “Sissy That Walk” by RuPaul
To Paraphrase Queen Ru: Shantay, You Stay (and Win That Mirrorball)

Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd’s Cha-cha-cha, “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE
Proof That You Can Have Your Cake (by the Ocean) and Eat It Too

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough’s Viennese Waltz, “Hold You In My Arms” by Ray LaMontagne
We Had a Good Feel-ine about This Dance

#1: Amber Riley & Derek Hough’s Cha-cha-cha
“Wings” by Little Mix


The "Glee" star really took flight with her debut performance alongside her partner Derek Hough. As we've said, the Cha-cha-cha is one of the trickier styles, and even though it was their dance debut, Hough threw his partner straight into the deep end. Not only is the routine packed with detailed dance content, but he's choreographed it all to the speed of light, and yet she doesn't miss a beat. From the moment the music begins, Amber has a look of fierce determination, and she follows through with an exhilarating performance. And to think that the best was yet to follow. Now, that's how you make an unforgettable first impression.
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