The battle for mirror-ball trophy has officially begun!
Dancing With the Stars' 17th season kicks off Monday, Sept. 16, and the new batch of celebrities have been hard at work with their professional partners in order to impress the ABC reality hit's judges and voters with their debut dances! And the competition is definitely fierce this year as several contestants have been known to bust a movie or two in their day, including some you wouldn't expect!
E! News was able to take a sneak peek inside several contestants' intense rehearsals and get exclusive scoop on the new season. We chatted with Corbin Bleu and partner Karina Smirnoff about why their pairing is "a dream come true," as well as Saved by the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley, who reveals why Showgirls isn't going to help her in the competition. Plus, Bill Nye's dance background is revealed and The Voice's Christina Milian reveals she's already lost weight thanks to her grueling rehearsals!
One pair that seems like they've already been dancing together for years? Smirnoff and High School Musical star Bleu. "We've talked about Corbin doing the show for the last four years at least," Smirnoff reveals. "They would say, ‘Who would be your dream partner?' and I'd say Corbin Bleu and explain why. The dream has come true!"
So why'd it take so long for the Disney alum to sign on? "I always said I didn't want to do it unless I got her as a partner," he admits. "There's such connection with dance and you have to be able to understand each other's body and listen and she listens so well."
And Bleu thinks he may have a leg up on the competition, thanks to his dance background, telling us, "I'm athletic and I know how to move and I understand music. I understand the timing, that's definitely a battle won already." But he's not the only contestant with some dance experience as Nye's partner Tyne Stecklein reveals he's been known to bust a move in the past! "He has a little bit of social swing background, but it's very different than actually learning choreography and having to retain that," she says.
Of course, Berkley's most iconic role, aside from her time on Saved by the Bell, in the cult hit Showgirls featured some dancing as well, but she's not looking at that experience as an advantage. "I got to use a little bit of dance in one film, a little unknown film, but it's a totally different kind of dancing," she says. "So really, I feel like I am a newbie."
And like Berkley, who is crediting DWTS for helping her shed the baby weight, Milian says she's already noticing a difference in her body. "I think I'm prepping to be ready for these skimpy little outfits that they got," she dishes. "I've lost a few pounds already. We've had some intense training. We do at least four hours a day and I've got my aches and pains in places I'd never felt before."
Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. on ABC.