May 16, 2011 | Jarett Wieselman
may be fickle when it comes to certain things, but I never, ever hop off a reality star’s bandwagon once I jump on. Which always makes their success all the richer since I’ve been cheering them on for weeks and weeks.
Such is the case with “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Chelsea Kane. She came out of the gate hard and fast with a Foxtrot that had me instantly lavishing love on her. A trend that continued the next week when her phenomenal Jive drew the judges’ wrath. But she persisted and prevailed, earning a spot in the Final Four — which will play out on tonight’s semi-final show.
I caught up with Chelsea (a.k.a. my pick to win it all) late last week as she was learning three(!) dances for tonight’s show. In addition to finding out how it feels to make it this far, I learned which routines were her favorites of the season and why it was so hard to have that heart to heart with partner Mark Ballas last week.
PopWrap: Congratulations on making the final four — coming in, given the fact you were arguably one of the lesser known dancers, did you envision yourself here?
Chelsea Kane: I was hopeful, but I completely agree with what you just said – one of my biggest fears in signing on was that I knew I was coming from a very specific demographic. They’re amazing and supportive but the regular viewing audience had no idea who I was. So I was really concerned that I’d be sent home before ever having an opportunity to dance or see my personality. The fact that the public has been so welcoming and voted for me and put me into the final four – I’m on cloud 9.
PW: Did you expect that Hines Ward, Kirstie Alley and Ralph Macchio would be in the finals with you?
Chelsea: I definitely thought so, but for such different reason. Hines can really move, and really surprised us all. Ralph is just so dedicated and knows how to perform. Kirstie Alley’s personality is larger than life – she’s so entertaining, I love her as much as America. So the fact I’m in the finals with them is awesome.
PW: Who do you see as your biggest competition?
Chelsea: In all honesty, I think Kirstie. She can dance and has a great partner. I know how much I enjoy having them on the show, I can only assume America feels the same way [laughs].
PW: Was there anyone you thought went home too soon?
Chelsea: It’s sad to see anyone leave, especially since I know how hard everyone is working. But I was sad to see [Chris] Jericho go. I think he went home early and is one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. He would have pulled out all the stops.
PW: I also have to commend the way you handled the situation with Mark last week — was that a hard conversation for you to have?
Chelsea: I adore Mark and have been a fan of his for years since I’ve been watching the show. I was thrilled to have this innovative choreographer as my partner,so it really was a tough conversation. Especially because I’m not confrontational. The tricky thing was also that I wasn’t mad at Mark. I didn’t blame him for the outburst because when you spend 10 hours in a studio coming up with choreography and working your butt off, it’s so hard to have someone say, “I didn’t really get it.” The heart to heart was more about saying, the minute you start to get frustrated, that’s the minute creativity is killed. Let’s get back to the creativity of it all.
PW: You and Mark locked in my vote with that Panic at the Disco Jive in week two …
Chelsea: It’s my favorite too! When we started thinking about which dance we’d redo, I said that jive … but I’m too scared because we got such low scores the first time.
PW: Do you think that was a case of trying too much too soon?
Chelsea: I don’t think so. But at the same time, I don’t regret it at all. I think that’s what we needed to do in order to put ourselves on the map with, not only the judges, but also America. I think if I came in as the little Disney kid who played it safe and had very safe routines, I think we’d probably have been sent home. I’m all about having fun and being crazy, so it was nice to come out at the beginning with that one.
PW: So if you and Mark make it to the finals, where you redo a routine from earlier in the season, will you give that Jive another chance?
Chelsea: I don’t know. I don’t know if the judges will have changed their minds about it being correct for the jive. We have a couple dances I’d love to perform again – I loved our Paso, I loved our Harry Potter waltz, even out slow waltz to Sia, I enjoyed that. we have a couple to pick between.
PW: This week you have to do the Cha-Cha, Rumba & Argentine Tango. How are you feeling?
Chelsea: You get nervous every week because the workload gets heavier,. We’re doing a dance a day. It’s intimidating. Especially because the Rumba & Argentine Tango are not like any other style we’ve had. Some dances have similarities – in the hips or the arms, so you can go back to something you’ve already learned. Right now, I’m learning two brand new styles at a point when I’m mentally and physically drained. But I couldn’t be having more fun!
“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8pm on ABC