Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With The Stars' Season 22 Blog: Week 1

“Dancing with the Stars” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba is blogging exclusively for Access Hollywood for Season 22 of her hit ABC show. Here is her first blog of the season: 

Waking up on the morning after the premiere of what is already shaping up to be an electrifying season of "Dancing with the Stars," I am filled with a certain sense of awe and gratitude… 

It’s hard to believe that I was only 37 when I excitedly and nervously first took my seat on the far right at that judging panel on stage 46 at CBS studios alongside Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, with Tom Bergeron at the helm. That was 22 seasons ago, a lifetime in many ways. Now, two years before turning 50 ( yes, that’s 48), the nerves have finally gone away (I finally stopped throwing up before every show) and what I feel now as I walk into the ballroom, is just pure joy, pride, and gratitude for being part of a show that inspires and touches people through dance. But I also feel so lucky to be a part of what is the "DWTS" family.  Both the family that is there in the ballroom -- the pros, Tom, Erin, the producers, the crew, the staff, the hair and makeup teams, and also the family that joins us from their own homes - our extended family. 

Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' blog, Week 1 pic: Carrie Ann with fellow judges Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman

Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' blog, Week 1 pic: Carrie Ann with fellow judges Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman (Courtesy of Carrie Ann Inaba)

Last night after our kick off dinner at Madeo’s with Tom, Len, Bruno, Erin, Rob our EP and the big bosses at BBC, we ran into a special extended family member who said she had been watching the show since she was in the womb. It was a pretty powerful moment to realize we had been a part of her life since before she was born and had helped to shape who she had become. She proudly shared that she was also now a dancer thanks to "Dancing with the Stars." Courtney Conte from the BBC invited her and her mother to the show so I hope to see her in the audience next Monday. It’s truly an honor to be a part of the fabric of the lives of our extended family, embedded in their memories and helping them to create beautiful memorable moments in their own journeys.  

For me, stepping back into the ballroom, felt like a coming home last night. Perhaps it was because Len was back, or because we had all experienced life during our break that changed us, like Erin Andrews (who fought so publicly for our rights to privacy and safety) and Tom Bergeron (who sadly lost both his parents). Or, perhaps it was because in a world where things change ever so quickly, we are a familiar face in a crowd, an old friend and safe harbor not only for our extended family, but also for each other.   

Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' blog, Week 1 pic: Carrie Ann Inaba with Len Goodman, Tom Bergeron and Bruno Tonioli

Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' blog, Week 1 pic: Carrie Ann Inaba with Len Goodman, Tom Bergeron and Bruno Tonioli (Courtesy of Carrie Ann Inaba)

This season already has a special place in my heart. Not only because of the incredible evening we all shared last night in the ballroom, but because this is the season for new beginnings for me personally as well which I will get into later as the season progresses. This season, in my AH blog I will be sharing more personal things as well as giving more insight into the season and helpful hints to the contestants who are interested. 

Last night, the dances far exceeded my expectations. I admit I got a little 8 happy towards the end there. But I don’t remember an opening night with as much energy and talent exploding on to the dance floor. It was more like a “Week 6” show than a first week show. It may have been one of the highest scoring premieres in the history of "DWTS." Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy, Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold, and Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd have proven themselves on the first week of competition as the couples to watch. I was most impressed with Nyle and Peta who have seemingly effortlessly transcended something I thought almost impossible -- the issue of dancing to the music without hearing it at all. Seeing our professionals find creative and brilliant ways to get past what could be considered an obstacle is something that I really want to highlight. It’s an important part of the heart of our show. I’m impressed that Peta was able to find a way to help Nyle connect to the music so deeply. He was not just dancing to a beat, it was as if he was connected directly to the heart of the music. He interpreted the music in a way that proved there is a deeper connection to music than just hearing it. I’m curious to learn more about how as a team they were able to navigate this part of the process.  

But what made the night feel so familiar for so many was the return of the ballers. Doug Flutie, Antonio Brown, and Von Miller brought that great energy and style to the ballroom in a way that we have missed. Football players and "DWTS" have a special kinship. Who knew that ballroom dancing and football had such a deep connection. So it’s nice to see the two reunited in this way. 

Marla Maples and Paige VanZant, Kim Fields and Jodie Sweetin also all gave really great performances, as well. I thought Tony Dovolani did a fantastic job with her “Diamond’s are a Girl’s Best Friend” performance.  It just felt like home -- a classic approach to a classic dance complete with glitter, glamour and sophistication.  

No season would be complete without the courageous competitors who once in the competition, realize it is much harder than they thought. And yet still have to get out there and do their best. I applaud Mischa Barton, Doug Flutie and Geraldo Rivera who may have struggled with the moves but graciously put themselves out there in unknown territory. I don’t know if people really understand how difficult it is, to get out there, do something you aren’t good at, and expose yourself that way.  It is something to be respected and encouraged. Facing fears is a part of growth, real human growth and I look forward to seeing each one of them return to the ballroom next week improved, and impressed with their own courage to dare to do the things that scared them so publicly.  

It was a good night in the ballroom. I could feel it from the moment I walked into my trailer and began the day at 10:00am. Choosing my beautiful Steven Kahlil dress with the magnificent Jen Rade (my Stylist ) and Rhonda Spies (Assistant Stylist), and designing the look and lashes with Marilyn Lee Spiegel (Makeup), and figuring out what hair would be worthy of our Season 22 premiere with my new hair stylist Eddie Gornick, all felt right (see below for beauty and style notes from my incredible team). When you judge, you have to feel confident and comfortable. And in the break this season, I lost 2 dress sizes. I went from an 8 to a 4 and for me, personally, that felt really good and I was honored to be wearing such a beautiful gown from such a talented designer.  

Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' blog, Week 1 pic: Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli

Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' blog, Week 1 pic: Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli (Courtesy of Carrie Ann Inaba)

I’m looking forward to week 2 of what seems like it’s going to be a season to remember! 

See you out there and thank you for joining us.   

We will be doing a live Periscope every Monday morning at around 10:30 AM for those who want to ask live questions. I’ll answer as many as I can and share some of our behind the scenes secrets.   

FASHION CREDITS: Dress @steven_khalil @bollare, Jewelry @xivkarats, Stylist @stylistjenrade and Styling Assistant @rhondaspies

-- Carrie Ann Inaba

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