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ABC announces this season's 'Dancing with the Stars' celebrity and professional pairings

by jmaloni

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Tue, Mar 4th 2014 10:10 am
`Dancing with the Stars` on `Good Morning America`: This season's lineup of stars was introduced Tuesday morning. It includes: standing: Emma Slater, Billy Dee Williams, Danica McKellar, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Sean Avery, Candace Cameron Bure, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Meryl Davis, NeNe Leakes, Tony Dovolani, Sharna Burgess, Charlie White, Cheryl Burke, Drew Carey, Diana Nyad, Henry Byalikov; sitting: Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Peta Murgatroyd, James Maslow, Witney Carson and Cody Simpson. (ABC photo by Todd Wawrychuk)
"Dancing with the Stars" on "Good Morning America": This season's lineup of stars was introduced Tuesday morning. It includes: standing: Emma Slater, Billy Dee Williams, Danica McKellar, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Sean Avery, Candace Cameron Bure, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Meryl Davis, NeNe Leakes, Tony Dovolani, Sharna Burgess, Charlie White, Cheryl Burke, Drew Carey, Diana Nyad, Henry Byalikov; sitting: Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Peta Murgatroyd, James Maslow, Witney Carson and Cody Simpson. (ABC photo by Todd Wawrychuk)
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Season 18 to shake up the competition with dramatic new twist "The Switch Up"

The new cast will take to the stage when "Dancing with the Stars" Premieres Monday, March 17, on ABC

This season's dynamic lineup of stars - including two Olympic gold medalists, a game show host, a swimming legend and a teen pop star - will perform for the first time on live national television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," Monday, March 17 (8 p.m.), on the ABC Television Network.

In a first for "Dancing with the Stars," the competition will feature a new game-changing twist called "The Switch Up." This season, America will be given the power to vote and change celebrities and professional dance pairings. This new rule will affect all couples as they will be required to switch partners at a point in the season. Never before have dance partnerships been split up during the course of competition.

As announced this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" by "Dancing with the Stars" hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, the 12 celebrities with their professional partners heading to the dance floor this season (in alphabetical order) are:

Sean Avery - Former pro hockey player Sean Avery is known for his unpredictable antics on the ice and a humorous personality. During his 12-year hockey career, he played left wing for the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and the New York Rangers. Typically known as his team's "enforcer," Avery had a reputation as an outspoken agitator on (and sometimes off) the ice. Controversy followed him wherever he played, and he became known as much for his mercurial style of play as for his eclectic interests. These interests led Avery to many unique experiences, including an internship at Vogue Magazine, working under the famed Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley. Avery partners with Karina Smirnoff.

Candace Cameron Bure - Actress, producer, New York Times bestselling author and inspirational speaker Candace Cameron Bure is both outspoken and passionate about her family and faith. Known to millions worldwide from her role as D.J. Tanner on the iconic family sitcom "Full House," Cameron Bure continues to flourish in the entertainment industry as role model to women of all ages. With an acting career that started at the age of 5, Cameron Bure grew up in show business alongside her brother, Kirk Cameron, and has appeared in numerous national television commercials, primetime hits, TV movies and feature films. Mostly recently, she starred in the Hallmark Original Movie "Let It Snow." In addition, she starred on ABC Family's "Make It Or Break It" in a three-year run as Summer Van Horn. Cameron Bure's bestselling book "Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness," inspires women to embrace a healthier lifestyle by moving faith to the forefront of their relationship with food. Her second book, "Balancing It All," shares her story of successfully balancing different roles and responsibilities including motherhood, work and Hollywood. Cameron Bure partners with Mark Ballas.

Drew Carey - Drew Carey is a stand-up comic turned actor and producer who had the distinction of having two hit shows simultaneously: the long-running comedy "The Drew Carey Show," which ran from 1995-2004 and the improv/sketch show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" on which he was host and a producer. The success of that show led to the creation of "Drew Carey's Improv All-Stars," an improv troupe that performs in showrooms across the country. In July 2007, Carey was named host of "The Price Is Right," succeeding longtime host Bob Barker. He began his successful career as a comedian in April of 1986 at the Cleveland Comedy Club. In 1988, one of his first big breaks was competing on "Star Search." In 1991, Carey landed a spot on HBO's "14th Annual Young Comedians Special" and appeared on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson."Carey partners with Cheryl Burke.

Meryl Davis - Paired in 1997, Meryl Davis, 27, and her partner Charlie White, 26, are the longest-running ice dancing partnership in the history of U.S. figure skating. As a child, Davis wished to glide atop the frozen surface of the Michigan Lake adjacent to her home, so learning to ice skate at the age of 5 was a natural choice. Davis and White are 2014 Olympic gold medalists, 2010 Olympic silver medalists and 2011 and 2013 world champions. They are also six-time (2009-14) U.S. Champions, and five-time (2001-13) Grand Prix Final champions. By winning the 2013 World Championships, the team made figure skating history, becoming the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win two world titles. The second title cemented their place in figure skating history and positioned them as the team to beat at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. When not on the ice, Davis enjoys reading, traveling and learning about other cultures. Davis partners with Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

NeNe Leakes - NeNe Leakes shot to stardom as a fan favorite on Bravo's "Real Housewives of Atlanta." Her popularity as a housewife led to her own Bravo television series, "I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding." In 2012, she was cast as coach Roz Washington on "Glee," and later that year landed a starring role on NBC's sitcom "The New Normal." Leakes has also guest-starred in BET comedies, "The Game" and "Let's Stay Together." She is the author of "Never Make the Same Mistake Twice," discussing her fractured childhood, abusive relationship and struggles with being a single mother. Leakes partners with Tony Dovolani.

James Maslow - James Maslow is best known as the star of the hit television series "Big Time Rush," and as a member of the worldwide bestselling music group of the same name. Maslow has headlined sold-out tours across the globe, most recently the "Big Time Rush Live 2014 World Tour," performing at some of the largest venues across North and South America. Maslow began his acting career on the popular series "iCarly" and completed the fourth season of "Big Time Rush" last year. A 2012 Parade Magazine poll named Big Time Rush the "Best Boy Band in the World," topping other well-known bands such as One Direction and The Wanted. Maslow has collaborated with many popular recording artists, such as Jordin Sparks, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and with Snoop Dogg on Big Time Rush's international, chart-topping hit single "Boyfriend." Maslow partners with Peta Murgatroyd.

Danica McKellar - Danica McKellar, best known as Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years" and Elsie Snuffin on "The West Wing," is a New York Times bestselling author with her three books, "Math Doesn't Suck," "Kiss My Math" and "Hot X: Algebra Exposed." She is also the author of "Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape." A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA, McKellar wrote a theorem that has been dubbed, "The Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem," and was published in Britain's esteemed Journal of Physics. Her recent acting roles include appearances on "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory." McKellarpartners with Valentin Chmerkovskiy.

Diana Nyad - 25 million people worldwide rooted for Diana Nyad last September as she approached the Florida shore, at long last achieving her 35-year-old dream of becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. Nyad is not one to quit. On her fifth attempt, speaking the words "Never Ever Give Up" to the wildly cheering crowd on a Key West beach on Sept. 2, Nyad may have been dazed and physically spent, but she showed the world what persistence and belief can manifest. Nyad stroked the amazing 110.86 miles in 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds. The second statement the victorious 64-year-old made on that Key West beach was, "You're never too old to chase your dreams." And her third statement on that historic day: "It looks a solitary sport, but it's a team." A prominent sports broadcaster, reporting for National Public Radio, FOX Sports, ABC's Wide World of Sports, and The New York Times for 30 years, Nyad has carved her place as a compelling storyteller. She has written three books and is currently writing her memoir for Knopf, due out in 2015. Nyad joins first time professional partner Henry Byalikov.

Amy Purdy - Amy Purdy had a typical childhood until losing her legs at 19 as a result of meningitis, which has led to an adulthood of extraordinary accomplishments. Currently training for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, she is the top-ranked adaptive snowboarder in the U.S. and three-time World Cup para-snowboard winner. Purdy is the co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a nonprofit organization that helps disabled youth, adults and wounded veterans get involved in action sports. AAS was instrumental in getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games. Purdy's positive outlook has opened many doors to other opportunities, including being featured in a Madonna music video, a lead acting role in an award-winning independent film and multiple modeling projects. She is an accomplished motivational speaker who has shared her story with audiences around the world. In 2013, Purdy was named by the International Olympic Committee as one of the top 15 most marketable para-athletes in the world. Purdy partners with Derek Hough.

Cody Simpson - With more than 6.4 million Twitter followers, 6.7 million Facebook "Likes" and nearly 200 million YouTube views, 17-year-old pop star Cody Simpson has taken the world by storm. He recently released "The Acoustic Sessions" EP, which followed the release of his sophomore album, 2013's "Surfers Paradise." It debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and features the Top 40 hit single "Pretty Brown Eyes." Simpson recently wrapped his sold-out U.S. and Canadian "Acoustic Sessions" tour and had previously been touring with Justin Bieber on Bieber's "Believe" tour. Simpson joins first-time professional partner Witney Carson.

Charlie White - Paired in 1997, Charlie White, 26, and his partner Meryl Davis, 27, are the longest-running ice dancing partnership in the history of U.S. figure skating. White, who grew up just down the street from his partner, began skating at the age of 3. Together, they are 2014 Olympic gold medalists, 2010 Olympic silver medalists and 2011 and 2013 world champions. White and Davis are also six-time (2009-14) U.S. Champions, and five-time (2001-13) Grand Prix Final champions. By winning the 2013 World Championships, the team made figure skating history, becoming the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win two world titles. The second title cemented their place in figure skating history and positioned them as the team to beat at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. White is an avid sports fan, particularly hockey. White partners with Sharna Burgess.

Billy Dee Williams - Legendary leading man Billy Dee Williams was often touted as the "black Clark Gable," especially after his co-starring role in "Lady Sings the Blues" opposite Diana Ross. George Lucas tapped him to play the scoundrel Lando Calrissian in "The Empire Strikes Back," and "The Return of the Jedi." He also played the district attorney Harvey Dent in 1989's "Batman." Williams' many films include "The Ladies Man," "Undercover Brother," "The Visit," "Fanboys," "Barry Munday" and "Constellation" opposite Gabrielle Union. Most recently, Williams appeared in the blockbuster film "The Lego Movie." In 2006, the NAACP recognized Williams for his immense contribution to the arts by awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award. Williams partners with Emma Slater.

Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the "Dancing with the Stars" broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m., ET/5 p.m., PT. For the final week, on Monday, May 19, online voting will open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast. A custom Facebook app lets fans vote, share whom they voted for and say why, as well as see whom friends voted for.

Hosted by Emmy Award-winning host Bergeron ("America's Funniest Home Videos") and Erin Andrews (sports host and "Dancing with the Stars" season 10 finalist), "Dancing with the Stars" is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines that are judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

Follow "DWTS" online at:

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