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Snakes, Snacks and Fancy Footwork – How Dancing with the Stars' Season 21 Celebs Got into the Groove

Originally posted 09/14/2015 06:10PM

Though Dancing with the Stars fans are just hours from welcoming the newest batch of celebrities into the ballroom during Monday night's season 21 premiere, the competitors themselves took a few all-important first important steps weeks ago when they met their partners and began showing off their moves.

Luckily for this season's contestants, their initial encounters with the pros and with America's latest dance obsession were (mostly) stress-free. Sure, they might not have expected to hop straight into the splits or find themselves becoming the center of attention quite so quickly, but nobody said the quest for the Mirrorball Trophy would be easy.

Below, check out all 13 stars at the very beginning of their DWTS journey. Piece of advice: If you're smart, you'll follow Paula Deen's lead and rustle up some snacks before getting down to business.

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Dancing With the Stars

Karina Smirnoff's Dancing with the Stars Blog: Partnering with Victor Espinoza Is a 'Big Challenge'

Originally posted 09/14/2015 03:00PM

Karina Smirnoff is chronicling her experiences as a pro partner to jockey Victor Espinoza on Dancing with the Stars' 21st season exclusively for PEOPLE.com. Follow Karina and Victor on Twitter!

Dancing with the Stars is always a roller coaster ride, and for this season we are going bigger with everything – which is a lot of fun. We have a huge opening number for the premiere tonight that we shot at Los Angeles' Hollywood and Highland intersection. So, besides the dances we've been figuring out with our partners, there is this other big production number we've had to worry about.

This season, I'm partnered with Victor Espinoza. He's a sweetheart with the spirit and heart of a champion. His story is amazing. He didn't start out with a lot of means to live on. He moved to America and lived in a barn with horses because he loved them and wanted to become a jockey but didn't have the means to go to training, and now he has prevailed. He's a Triple Crown winner. That hasn't been done in 37 years!

All that said, it's a big challenge for us to work together because of our height difference. Even if I don't wear heels, I am still about 4 or 5 in. taller than Vic. And if I put on my famous Latin heels that are practically 4 in. high, we're looking at an even bigger difference in height.

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Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
FROM EW: Karina Smirnoff Is Returning to Dancing with the Stars

Dancing With the Stars

FROM EW: Karina Smirnoff Is Returning to Dancing with the Stars

Originally posted 08/18/2015 02:00PM

The one-time Mirror Ball champ will head back to the ABC show Sept. 14; Val Chmerkovskiy and Witney Carson are also set to return

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Celebrity Family Feud Sneak Peek: Watch Steve Harvey Dance with (and Dip!) Karina Smirnoff

Originally posted 06/26/2015 12:00PM

Love is in the air on the next episode of Celebrity Family Feud.

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Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Karina Smirnoff: I'm in Therapy for My Love Life

Karina Smirnoff: I'm in Therapy for My Love Life

Originally posted 04/29/2015 12:05PM

Karina Smirnoff has always had her eye on the prize – a husband and a child, maybe even two. But focusing too much on what she could someday gain has diverted attention from what she could lose – the ability to identify who is truly marriage material.

"I think we can all solidly agree, without a doubt, that [it hasn't been a] good life with men," said the 37-year-old Dancing with the Stars pro, who recently broke things off with her third fiancé, Jason Adelman.

"It's not that I choose the wrong men. That has nothing to do with it. I'm at the place in my life that I want to be a mom more than anything and I want to be a wife. I want to live for another human being and give that little guy or girl everything I have. But sometimes the desire becomes bigger than living in the moment and realizing what is happening, learning from my mistakes and seeing the red flags."

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Credit: David Livingston/Getty
Karina Smirnoff Helps Man Having a 'Stroke' – but He Allegedly Ended Up Just Being Drunk

Karina Smirnoff Helps Man Having a 'Stroke' – but He Allegedly Ended Up Just Being Drunk

Originally posted 04/23/2015 08:40AM

When Karina Smirnoff said she wanted to try new things this year, we didn't think she meant emergency medical care.

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Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty
Karina Smirnoff and Jason Adelman End Engagement

Karina Smirnoff and Jason Adelman End Engagement

Originally posted 03/11/2015 10:00PM

Hey, Karina Smirnoff said her love of dating was one of the reasons she wrote We're Just Not That Into You: Dating Disasters from the Trenches. Maybe she decided it was better to continue walking the talk?

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Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty
Dancing with the Stars Announces Season 20 Pros: Karina Smirnoff Out (for Now)

Dancing With the Stars

Dancing with the Stars Announces Season 20 Pros: Karina Smirnoff Out (for Now)

Originally posted 02/11/2015 09:20AM

Dancing with the Stars announced which pros will return for season 20 on Wednesday – and one who notably will not.

Last season's champion Witney Carson returns alongside fan favorite (and two-time champion) Mark Ballas. Seasoned pros and fellow mirrorball winners Tony Dovolani, Peta Murgatroyd and Kym Johnson are back in the mix. Newer pros including Val Chmerkovskiy, Sharna Burgess, Allison Holker, Emma Slater and Artem Chigvintsev were also confirmed to return.

Noticeably absent, Karina Smirnoff – a pro since season 3 and the season 12 champion – posted on Instagram Tuesday night that she would not be returning for season 20: "I've decided to focus my energies on some other exciting endeavors."

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Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty
Karina Smirnoff Is Engaged to Jason Adelman

Karina Smirnoff Is Engaged to Jason Adelman

Originally posted 01/20/2015 04:45PM

Dancing with the Stars pro Karina Smirnoff is engaged to Jason Adelman, PEOPLE has confirmed.

The happy news caps a whirlwind romance for the duo, who have been dating for less than a year.

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