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"Dirty Dancing" star Jennifer Grey dances with Derek Hough on the season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday.
TODAY contributor
updated 9/20/2010 11:23:55 PM ET 2010-09-21T03:23:55

Monday night saw the cast of “Dancing With the Stars” 11th season shake their respective ballroom business for the first time with varying degrees of success. For some would-be soft-shoes, it was an opportunity to prove they have what it takes to stay in the competition. For others, it was brief preview of bad things to come.

But for one star in particular, it was chance to give fans everything they hoped for on the dance floor.

Jennifer Grey, better known as Frances “Baby” Houseman to “Dirty Dancing” devotees, did not disappoint when she showcased her Viennese waltz skills to the familiar tune of “These Arms of Mine.” The 50-year-old actress, who openly wept for late co-star Patrick Swayze during rehearsals, debuted calm and concentrated moves on the main stage alongside pro partner and past dance champ Derek Hough.

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Frankly, anything less would have been a letdown. Grey’s been a sentimental favorite for the top spot since she was first announced as a contestant, and with her personal history in ballet and on-screen history with ballroom, she needed to deliver a big dance. With the top score of the night — a 24 out of 30 — she did just that.

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Grey also stands as the first performer to prompt out-of-nowhere tears from judge Carrie Ann Inaba this season, which really should be worth an extra point or two.

Surprise challenger
Despite Grey’s expected lead, the ballroom did hold one surprise when it came to Baby’s biggest competition. No one would have guessed it would come from 19-year-old Disney channel alum Kyle Massey. What he lacks in name recognition with the over-30 voting crowd, Massey more than makes up for in talent, energy and loads of charisma, a point he proved in the best cha-cha-cha of the night.

The rest of the ballroom beginners could be easily divided into two categories: those who are worth a closer look, and those who are wasting everyone’s time.

The closer-look crowd included early standouts, like R&B singer and actress Brandy; ex-Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox; former quarterback Kurt Warner; and “The Hills” hottie Audrina Patridge. As for those time-wasters, their ranks include self-proclaimed “advocate for the prevention of teen pregnancy” Bristol Palin; “Brady Bunch” mom and unexpected ab-flasher Florence Henderson; and unfortunately, the likeable-but-not-at-all-bendable Michael Bolton.

Video: Can Audrina Patridge dance? (on this page)

Shaky start
Well, maybe there are three categories. The third one being “and the rest,” occupied exclusively by the unlucky celebs who tied for last place on premiere night: comedian Margaret Cho, “Jersey Shore’s” Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and the one and only David Hasselhoff.

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Between intentional goofs and limited rehearsal time, Cho and Sorrentino ended the night just as much as dance-floor mysteries as they started it. And the Hoff? He’s just so hilariously, hip-grindingly bad, he earned a chance to stick around as this season’s mandatory comic relief — at least for now.

It’s fun to yuk it up during the first few weeks, but as fans of past seasons’ laugh-masters Adam Carolla and Cloris Leachman may recall, eventually the shtick gets old.

Ree Hines was impressed by Grey’s smooth moves, but as always she remains Team Hot Guys. That means Rick Fox(xy) and Brandy (partnered with the ultimate hot pro, Maksim Chmerkovskiy) would totally get her vote, if she bothered to vote. Follow @ReeHines on Twitter to cast your imaginary vote.

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Photos: 'Dancing With the Stars' season 11

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  1. Bristol Palin

    Bristol Palin, former first daughter of Alaska, first entered the national spotlight when her mother, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was selected to be John McCain’s runningmate in the 2008 Presidential election. After giving birth to her son, Tripp, and becoming a single teen mother in 2008, she became a spokesperson for the prevention of teen pregnancy and for other teen issues. Palin recently guest starred as herself on an episode of ABC Family’s "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." Her partner is Mark Ballas. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Kurt Warner

    Kurt Warner is the first quarterback to participate on "Dancing with the Stars." In 1999, led the St. Louis Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. He eventually moved on from the Rams to the Giants and finally to the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. In 2007 he led the Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl and was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl. He is partnered with Anna Trebunskaya. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Jennifer Grey

    Nobody puts Jennifer Grey in a corner! Grey starred as Frances "Baby" Houseman in the iconic 1987 box office hit "Dirty Dancing" with the late Patrick Swayze. Some of her other films include "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Red Dawn" and "The Cotton Club." Her partner is Derek Hough. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Kyle Massey

    Kyle Massey stars as Cory Baxter in the Disney Channel sitcom, "Cory in the House." He originated the role of Cory in Disney's "That’s So Raven," the first show in Disney's history to produce over 100 episodes. He will partner with Lacey Schwimmer. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Rick Fox

    A three-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, actor and producer Rick Fox has appeared in a number of film and television projects, sharing the screen with actors ranging from Whoopi Goldberg to Henry Winkler, Angela Bassett and Shia LeBeouf. His partner is Cheryl Burke. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Brandy

    Brandy is a platinum-selling R&B and pop singer, actress, songwriter and record/television producer. In 1994, at the age of 15, Brandy released her eponymous debut album, selling over 6 million copies. She is currently filming Season 2 of the VH1 reality show "Brandy and Ray J: a Family Business." She will dance with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Michael Bolton

    He can sing, but can he dance? Michael Bolton has sold more than 53 million records, released 18 studio albums, won multiple Grammys for Best Male Vocalist and countless other honors, all while selling out arenas worldwide. His partner is Chelsie Hightower. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Florence Henderson

    Florence Henderson will always be best known in syndication worldwide as "America's Favorite Mom" and matriarch Carol Brady on the classic TV series "The Brady Bunch," which aired for five seasons (1969-1974). Henderson has been a celebrity spokeswoman for Oldsmobile, Tang, Polident, Rain Soft, Pepsi Light and Wesson Oil and maintains a busy schedule as a sought after motivational speaker. She will be partnered with Corky Ballas. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Margaret Cho

    Comedian Margaret Cho first performed stand-up in her native San Francisco at the age of 16. Her best-selling tours include the off-Broadway hit/concert film "I’m the One That I Want," "Notorious C.H.O.," "Revolution" and "Beautiful." She is also a regular cast member of the Lifetime series "Drop Dead Diva." She will dance with Louis Van Amstel. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. David Hasselhoff

    Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as "The Most Watched TV Star in the World," David Hasselhoff has gained international fame in music, television and film. Hasselhoff got his start in entertainment on the soap opera "The Young and the Restless" and was pursued to play the lead role of the 1980's cult favorite, "Knight Rider." His famed skyrocketed thanks to 11 years in a swimsuit on "Baywatch." Don’t hassel the Hoff! He will dance with Kym Johnson. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Audrina Patridge

    Audrina Patridge starred in six seasons of the MTV reality series "The Hills." The aspiring actress made her debut on the big screen last fall in the thriller "Sorority Row." Other film credits include "Into the Blue 2" and "Honey 2." Last summer, Patridge made headlines steaming up TV screens in a commercial for Carl’s Jr. Her partner is Tony Dovolani.. (Bob D'Amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
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