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'Dancing with the Stars' returns: 5 new things you'll see

Posted by Emily Wright  March 17, 2014 12:58 PM

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Rick Rowell/ABC

Valentin Chmerkovskiy and partner Danica McKellar practiced for Season 18 of "Dancing with the Stars."

The "Dancing with the Stars" producers are trying to stay current and shook things up during the off-season to make it happen. From hirings and firings to set changes and fresh faces, we've got the five things for you to look out for before watching the season 18 premiere tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.

1. New co-host

Before the new cast was announced, Brooke Burke-Charvet told her Twitter followers that she was leaving "Dancing" and soon after, the show brought in former competitor Erin Andrews to take her place. The Fox Sports reporter kicked off her new duties by helping Bergeron announce the celebrities and their partners for Season 18 on March 4.

2. New "band"

The show's former band leader, Harold Wheeler, (and his 28-member ensemble) were let go by the show in February. Instead of The Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers, which has covered super popular songs for the show's first 17 seasons, the music will be left to a "small electric band" and "preexisting sound recordings," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

3. New competitor hangout area (formerly known as the Glitter Pit)

If you're a fan of the show, you're full aware of the cramped quarters where the celebs and their spicy counterparts hung out during Season 17. Have no fear, the competitors will call a new place (TBA) home when they aren't dancing their butts off on the hardwood.

4. Partner "switch up" potential

There aren't a lot of details out there yet about the new "Switch Up," but from what we've gathered, during one week of the competition (we're guessing fairly early), fans will be given the power to change the celebrity-pro pairings. Once the newly formed couples dance together, the celebrities will have to decide whether they'd like to stay with their original partner or switch -- for good.

5. New (and returning) pros

Henry Byalikov and Witney Carson are kicking off their first season as full-time competitors on "Dancing." Both are former "So You Think You Can Dance" finalists who started dancing before turning 10. Byalikov will dance with long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad, and Carson will join Australian pop sensation Cody Simpson (adorable couple, eh?)

And, after taking a season off (he came back as a guest judge last season), Maks Chmerkovskiy returns to the lineup for Season 18. The elder of the two competing Chmerkovskiy brothers (Val is paired with Danica McKellar a.k.a. Winnie Cooper), Maks was partnered with Olympic gold medal ice dancer Meryl Davis. Plot twist: Davis's ice dancing partner, Charlie White, will be competing on the show, too.


Want all the details on the competitors? Check out ABC's formal announcement, and watch a video recap of the announcements via Viewer Discretion.

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About Viewer Discretion

What we're watching on TV.

Contributors

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.

Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.

Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

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