Meet Dancing's Newest Stars
CANDACE CAMERON BURE
Bure is proud to be the very first person from her '90s sitcom to be on DWTS. "I'm excited and I know that there are so many Full House fans out there," she says. "My Twitter feed blew up this morning. And I couldn't have been happier when I found out Mark Ballas was my partner. I screamed." Echoes Ballas, "It was the best welcome ever, actually. Her family's super cool and her kids are excited."
Teaming up against his Olympic gold medal-winning ice dancing partner Meryl Davis (swapping her for partner Sharna Burgess) is obviously a bit different for White, but "Meryl and I are so in tune with one another that we're going to be bringing it equally," he promises. "We're so excited about the opportunity and not missing out on any bit of enjoyment. We're going to work hard and try to make it to the end."
For Davis, the pressure of excelling in the ballroom isn't quite like going for gold at the Olympic games. "When you prepare 17 years for something and it's something you want that badly, it's different," she says. "I think any time you come into a new experience, it's a little nerve-wracking." As for her returning partner? "I feel good," Maks Chmerkovskiy says. "I'm just happy."
Tony Dovolani, who was already a fan of the Atlanta Housewife, gets a rise out of his partner's often-over-the-top antics. "You've got to be a little crazy, because if you're normal, then it's not interesting," he says of joining DWTS. "She brings a big personality to our dance floor and we just have to make sure we have a good time and enjoy each other. We already hit it off. I feel like I have a best friend already."
The former Wonder Years actress doesn't have a single reservation about the experience – yet. "Val Chmerkovskiy is amazing to work with," she tells PEOPLE. "I'm so happy I got the best partner. I'm sure of it. I feel like a kid in a candy store. I love the rehearsals. They're hard and grueling, but I love them."
The Price Is Right's Carey is feeling positive going into Dancing's March 17 premiere, thanks to Cheryl Burke. "I think I have a really good teacher. I have somebody who is really well disciplined and very patient. I don't get nervous." But, Burke jokes, "[He says that] for now. It's still the honeymoon stage."
Derek Hough was ready to bid adieu to his Dancing gig – but then he heard Purdy's remarkable story. "I instantly wanted to be a part of that journey," he says of pairing with the athletic double-amputee. "Any woman who has overcome those sort of odds and defied them inspires me. It's given a new meaning and purpose for me to be part of the show. I want to see how far we can take this."
The Aussie singer is ready to make his ballroom debut with newbie Witney Carson. "It'll definitely help that I've had some performing and entertaining background," Simpson tells PEOPLE, adding with a laugh, "but it doesn't help too much though with Latin hip-shaking."
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS
"I've got this wonderful, beautiful, young woman giving me instructions. She's amazing," gushes the Star Wars actor, who says he's "looking forward to" the DWTS experience with partner Emma Slater. However, he admits, it'll be "a real test of my stamina."
Big Time Rush singer Maslow says it's "so exciting" to "have a partner [Peta Murgatroyd] who knows how to win and has done it before. She's an amazing dancer and in the few days' rehearsals we've had, she's been really helpful as a coach. I'm lucky. I'm nervous, but I'm also excited to learn a new skill and try something different."
Nyad, who swam from Cuba to Florida last year, believes she's been selected for Dancing (and partnered with Henry Byalikov) for the right reasons. "When people truly admire you and you inspire people, that's truly different than fame," she says. "I'm in a very fortunate position right now that people look to me for their own lives. They want to feel that spirit of 'never ever give up.' So if I can carry that as my mantle, I'm proud to do so."
Former NHL star Avery joined the show primarily to spread awareness about a charity called Friends In Deed, a support group for those who are helping loved ones with terminal HIV. But that doesn't make him less excited about dancing with his partner. "Karina [Smirnoff] makes dancers look unbelievable and I think from a technical standpoint, she's probably the best dancer here," he says.