March 22, 2011 10:00 AM

There are 11 celebrities breathing a big sigh of relief – despite most likely having sore feet! – following Monday’s season 12 premiere of Dancing with the Stars.

After a night of foxtrots and cha chas, the stars – Ralph Macchio, Romeo, Chelsea Kane, Mike Catherwood, Sugar Ray Leonard, Hines Ward, Kendra Wilkinson and Kirstie Alley – spoke to PEOPLE about their first-night jitters.

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“I was so nervous,” blogger Kane says. “I think this week just took at least a year off of my life.”

Ralph Macchio, who earned the night’s top score with 24 points for his foxtrot, says he eased into the first live performance. “I was more nervous, actually, in some of the rehearsal processes when I was learning steps that felt foreign,” he said.

And the stars weren’t the only ones feeling jittery. “I think Dmitry [Chaplin] was really nervous,” his supermodel partner Petra Nemcova said.

“I was really freaking out behind the stage,” said the pro.

Meanwhile, Alley, whose cha cha thrilled the judges, was basking in her ballroom glory. “It feels joyous,” she said of performing. “It really makes you come alive again.”

The stars will return to ballroom March 28 for another round of competition before facing the season’s first elimination the following day.

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