So, we're at the halfway mark now and while Monday was a great night for both Maks and I, Tuesday was filled with both joy and sadness. After a rough week of intensive rehearsals, I felt nothing but calm going into Monday's night performance. All day I felt prepared and ready and very confident that I knew the routine and could hold up my frame. Practicing for the quickstep was almost as tiring as the jive, because while my arms and neck are stiffly positioned, there is a lot of footwork that goes into the dance.
We had pulled the theme song from the TV show "Friends" and I knew that it would strike a chord with the audience. While I knew the song, I had never seen the show. I definitely believed that we pulled that song for a reason, as Maks and I have a burgeoning friendship that I'm certain will go beyond this show. He brought in some useful tools to help me keep my upper body in frame during rehearsals. We went over each portion of our routine, bit by bit, and put together what I thought was a great way to incorporate the audience into our dance. So, all of Monday, I felt completely calm and ready for the show.
I admit that my nerves flared up just a bit before we went on, but once the spotlight hit we were off and I felt confident that I had managed to keep everything together and pull off a good performance. When we heard the judges' scores of three 9's, I was ecstatic! It's one thing to be confident about your performance and another thing to have the judges validate it. I definitely wasn't perfect, but I had incorporated the judges' previous points and my confidence was at an all-time high when we returned to the booth.
Watching the rest of the performances, I was relaxed and happy and really enjoyed the overall TV-themed week. I thought that some of my fellow cast members had some truly inspired routines and I laughed out loud at Mark and Bristol's monkey-suited jive and swayed to Cheryl and Rick's romantic cops dancing the tango to the theme of "Hill Street Blues." Overall, I had a great time on Monday and I went home for feeling terrific.
Tuesday came around and when we got to the set, we were informed that Maks and I had the 'Encore Dance.' Boy, was that a shocker!! This time around, we could just have fun with the dance and not worry about the small things, but I made sure that I kept my frame and tried even harder to correct the few mistakes that I felt I had made the previous night. Waiting around to find out if Maks and I were safe is always nerve-wracking and this evening was no different. You see, at the end of the day, the judges scores only take you part of the way with regards to elimination. It's the fans of the show that place their calls and texts and send the emails that really are the deciding factor. Never did it hit home more than on Tuesday's Elimination Show.
After the bottom two scorers were assured that they were "safe," they moved on to the top two – Jennifer & Derek and Maks & I. The suspense grew even more as Maks and I were saved for the next week and yet Jennifer and Derek were informed that they were still in jeopardy. Back and forth, it went through the night. During the show there were some great performances including Shakira and Jason Derulo and a very touching dance tribute done by the sons of a mother in the audience whose favorite show is "Dancing with the Stars."
Needless to say, when it came down to the final two, I was saddened to hear Florence's name called as the one being eliminated. And yes, before you ask, I did get a bit teary-eyed but I'm hoping the camera didn't catch that! From day one, Florence has been really wonderful to me. I was just so excited to meet such an icon, but she truly is an inspirational woman and always had a smile whenever we were together. We would sit in the make-up trailer and chat and compare aches and pains. She would share with me part of her life's journey at times and I laughed at some of the great stories she told. Maks became a complete cuddly bear whenever she was around. She was so protective of him that I would giggle! Imagine….Maks needing protection!
When we knew she was going home, everyone got emotional and I made sure to rush down the press line so that I had a chance to say goodbye. It really does get harder, knowing that you will have to say bye to someone who has been such a huge presence in your life each week. No matter what anyone says, when you work the long hours that we do and spend so much time together, there is a bond built and you do become a sort-of family. And now half of that family is gone. It is a sober reminder of the weeks to come. As I grow more and more confident in myself and in my abilities, I continue to strive to get better each day of each week. It's not just about the dance. It's also not just about the people. It's about the memories that we're all making together.
And as Jennifer reminded me at the beginning, it's about enjoying this journey and creating these 'snapshots' of memories which I'm glad to be sharing with all of you.
Much love to all my fellow stars and the fans,
P.s. don't forget to send me your questions so I can give you an answer and a shout out in my next blog later this week!
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