It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, which means it’s almost time to see all the changes ahead on the premiere of Dancing With the Stars Season 18. The 12 couples of the spring 2014 cast are ready to roll, and we’re ready to watch them in action this coming Monday, March 17 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Here’s what you can expect on the first show.


Opening Number

According to ABC, Season 18 will kick off with "a massive opening number featuring all pro dancers as they perform live with musical guest Jason Derulo." He'll perform his song “Talk Dirty,” and it will mark the first time ever that a musical guest has accompanied a season’s opening number. FYI, "Macy's Stars of Dance" is also returning later this season, with "creative oversight" by Derek Hough himself. 


Dance Routines

For Week 1, the 12 couples will dance either a Cha-Cha-Cha, a Foxtrot, or a Contemporary routine. Which one is a harder first dance, do you think?

• Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy — Foxtrot

• Cody Simpson and Witney Carson — Cha-Cha-Cha

• Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater — Cha-Cha-Cha

• Diana Nyad and Henry Byalikov — Foxtrot

• James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd — Foxtrot

• Sean Avery and Karina Smirnoff — Contemporary

• Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke — Foxtrot

• Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas — Contemporary

• Charlie White and Sharna Burgess — Contemporary

• Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha-Cha-Cha

• Amy Purdy and Derek Hough — Cha-Cha-Cha

• NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani — Cha-Cha-Cha


New Band

Harold Wheeler and his orchestra were replaced this season by Ray Chew and his band, which ABC says will “feature a new line-up of live musicians and singers performing music ranging from the latest pop hits to the great standards of the past.” Ray added, “I’m looking forward to continuing the musical legacy established on Dancing with the Stars, a show that respects live music and musicians. It is important to me and to the producers to maintain the integrity of the music presentation for the dancers as well as for the viewers. Towards that end, my approach will be to utilize first class live vocalists, arrangers, copyists and musicians of all instruments."

New Co-Host

This season, DWTS is welcoming its fourth co-host, Season 10 finalist Erin Andrews. Erin is replacing Brooke Burke-Charvet who won Season 7 with Derek Hough before joining the show as co-host in 2010. Erin said she wants to bring a hip, funky Cat Deeley kind of vibe to the show and ask the kind of questions fans want to know after each performance. She’s also admitted she’s most excited to have NeNe Leakes in the cast since she’s a huge Real Housewives fan.


Ballroom Changes

Tom Bergeron noted that the judges’ table is moving back across the ballroom and the “glitter pit” is no longer with us. Will we see a new backstage area, or other changes? Possibly. Probably. We’ll find out!


The Switch-Up Twist

There's this new twist coming, possibly in Week 3, called the "Switch-Up." Fans will vote for who they want to see paired, among the celebs and pros still in the competition. It's just for one week, but at the end of that week, the celeb gets to decide which pro they'd rather dance with — their original partner or the new one for that week. The details are sketchy, even to the pros, and it may turn out to be fun or even uneventful with no drama at all, but it could be a trainwreck. That's probably why they're doing it! Hopefully we'll hear more details in Week 1.


Voting

The voting numbers were finally released, and here they are! Program these digits into your phone. Viewers can vote by phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the DWTS broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET and closing at 8:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday evenings. For the final week, on Monday, May 19, online voting will open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 11:00 a.m., ET/8:00 a.m., PT the next day.  

Are you ready to see all this and more? Do you already know which team you’re supporting or will you watch them dance first?