By: Amrie Cunningham [My Take on TV]
My weekly guilty pleasure is a little show called DANCING WITH THE STARS; ever hear of it? With each season, I make a concerted effort to root for two people – the “has-been” 80s movie actor in the cast (see: Harry Hamlin, Steve Guttenberg this year) and Edyta Sliwinska (no matter who her partner is – she’s a favorite in our house). I was lucky enough this past week to spend some time chatting with Edyta about her partner, her competition, and the role she would love to play! Read on to learn more about her!
I just wanted to start by saying that I am completely hooked on the show; it’s the show that my mom and I watch every week. You’re definitely one of our favorites.
Edyta Sliwinska: That’s great!
How does this season compare to seasons past?
It’s kind of funny. What’s happening throughout the seasons, they get more and more intense. People are actually practicing more and more. I think with my partner, the intensity has been increasing and every season, I think people want to dance better than celebrities before. Celebrities are more committed and that’s why it’s getting more intense. This season, with Jason, we are practicing really long hours, like 8 hours a day. He also doesn’t have any dance experience at all. We have to come up with a new dance in pretty much like 5 days.
How do you get paired – how does that happen?
It’s pretty much up to the producers 100%. We have no input on it. It’s based most on personality. On the look, on the age, on height. With Jason, there are not many girls that could dance with him because he’s 6’6”. I’m pretty much probably the tallest girl, me and Kym are the tallest girls, so it had to be one of us. I think it’s most base don personality. And obviously, if you had a great partner for a coulpe of seasons, like Julianne won twice, obviously, it’s not a perfect match for Adam, but they decided that it would be interesting to see how she’s going to do with a guy who maybe doesn’t dance as well.
You and Jason – you can tell that your chemistry is already there. Without him having any dancing experience, you guys are great.
He told me when I met him, I was terrified, because I tried to find out if he ever dances or what he likes. He said, well I danced twice in my life. One time, I was trying to do a moonwalk, you know the Michael Jackson thing, and I fell and I got a big scar in between my eyes. And he does have a huge scar above his nose, and that’s from dancing. He said, I just don’t dance, so I was terrified. But apparently, he has a very good sense of rhythm. He’s very natural, very coordinated, so it is a lot of work, but he has some natural talent.
You’re lucky – you got a football player! The football players on the show have done very well.
Of course football players have done well, and I’m glad to dance with an athlete. If you think about it, Jason being in this competition, I think the producers were thinking, well he’s 6’6”! You look at Clyde Drexler who was on the show before, that doesn’t promise a lot. It’s just very, very hard for a guy who is this high to move. With a high speed number, it’s really hard for Jason and I have to be very careful with the choreography, and I really have to adjust a lot of things to his height.
What is a typical week, after the results show to the next performance night?
Normally after the results show, I know that all the couples aren’t doing it, but me and Jason, we go straight to practice the same night. I kind of introduce him to the new dance. We only find out what the next dance is right after the results show. So once I find out, we go for about two hours, show him some of the basic steps that we’re going to be doing for the week. In the evening, I basically listen to the music hundreds of times and try to come up with ideas for choreography. I never come up with the full choreography, because I never know what’s going to work for Jason until I actually show it to him. I come up with a lot of ideas to have something to work with. The next morning, we go to the studio to work it out. We are on the dance floor 8 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, when we kind of finish the choreography. We have the rest of the week to practice it, to perfect it, to work on all the details, and basically to get ready for the show.
I’m amazed how little time you really do get to spend. In 5 days, I know I wouldn’t be able to learn a new dance. You guys have surprised my so far, and I just keep enjoying it.
Thank you! I’m surprised myself every week how the celebrities who have no experience, how they actually learn the dance so well. That’s a surprise for me; I’m actually admiring the effort and the guts that they have to dance in front of 20 million people.
How does the music get chosen? Is it once the dance is decided, you are told, or do you get to choose the song?
We don’t get to pick songs. Basically, what’s happening, before the whole show starts and the dances, we can suggest a song, and then they give it to clearing. And there is a lot of work involved in it. Sometimes you cannot get rights to certain songs. Sometimes the producers don’t like it, sometimes ABC doesn’t like it. There are many things involved. Sometimes you get the song that you picked, but it’s rather rarely and you just get the song that’s assigned and you have to deal with it. Basically, you deal with whatever the producers feel would be the best challenge of the song for the week.
Looking at your fellow cast members, who do you think is your biggest competition?
Well, from the guys, it would always be Mario. He’s young, he has done a lot of hip hop before. Although he doesn’t have a formal dance training, he knows how to move. He has a good personality as well, he works great with Karina. They have a lot of chemistry together. So I think they are definitely a couple to beat. And Kristi Yamaguchi. There’s a girl who looks like a professional already. I’m just going to be very honest with you – only you because you didn’t have the ballroom training. You’ve got to be out of your mind to think that ice skating doesn’t help you with dancing ha. You have to take ballet lessons as much as ice skating lessons so your body knows how to move. Just take a look at the freestyle routines, and you will understand how much it has to do with dancing! I’m hoping people will appreciate that other people in this competition haven’t had preparation and they will appreciate the journey and the improvement more. Kristi’s great, and it’s not her fault, don’t get me wrong! I mean, she got hired for the show and whatever experience prior to the show she had, then it’s absolutely not her fault, and she can only be proud that she’s well prepared! I just hope that the audience will appreciate the fact that people like Jason, who have never danced before, actually come out there and look very decent.
Who would be your ideal celebrity dance partner?
Like a dream, dream partner, I think it would be Johnny Depp haha! That’s like a dream-dream. Someone who has a great personality, and who is not afraid to do things out of his comfort zone would be great, and I think Johnny Depp would be great. I would be in heaven to dance with him!
Just switching gears a little bit – I want to talk about the Dancing Like the Pros DVDs (keep reading to see how you can win a copy)! How did that come to be? Is that something that you and Alec decided together, or were you approached to do it?
We actually decided to do it on our own. We just thought it would be a great idea, with dancing becoming more and more popular for people to work out as they dance. We came up with a program based on dance steps that pretty much works your whole body. What’s wonderful about dancing is that you don’t get bulky, you don’t get muscley, you get lean and you lose weight and you have a lot of fun doing it. After dancing with the stars started, after a couple of seasons, seeing how the celebrities are getting hooked on dancing, and how much they enjoy it, and after training with us, they are in better shape than they’ve ever been in their lives, we decided to come out with the DVD and share our knowledge with everyone who is willing to do it.
I think it’s a great idea – “average” people want to look like these dancers and it’s a fun way to do it – to achieve the shape in the way that the dances did it!
I think it is. Everyone would be in great shape. I hate working out, I hate going to the gym. I’m kind of fortunate enough that I can dance, burn those calories, have fun with it, and be healthy and be in shape. I wish everyone could do it.
I read that you wanted to get into acting as the years go on – what would your ideal type of role be?
I’m thinking a little bit more back into Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers times. Those musicals when people dance and sing and act, and it’s all forms combined. Something really fun. Definitely something that’s with dancing. I’m trying to be realistic. Dancing is what I’ve been doing my whole life. There’s no way that I can be better at anything than I am at dancing, just because of the work that I’ve already put into it. I would like to combine that knowledge and that skill that I have with other forms. Acting, maybe on the stage. I started some training, and we’ll see how it goes.
I wanted to congratulate you on your recent marriage – have you had much time to have a newlywed year?
We got married on September 1 and it’s been really hard since then. That was right before the previous season, and I was dancing with Cameron and we trained in New York, so I would only come back for like the show, so I wouldn’t see Alec at all. That was very hard. Then we went on the Dancing With the Stars tour together. So we had 24 hours a day for like 3 months which was great, but it was still work. And now we’re getting through another season. As soon as the season is over we’re going to some wonderful place for a honey moon!
Any final thoughts for fans?
I’m just thrilled to do the show, I’m very lucky to do what I love and being watched by millions of people and bringing joy into their homes. I consider myself a very lucky person. I want to thank everyone who’s watching and voting, and keep voting. Not necessarily for me, but for Jason! He’s a guy who really has never danced before and puts lots and lots of work into it. It makes me the happiest person to see him succeed with that. I was happy last week when we got really good scores, because that for me is a great sense of accomplishment.
Thank you – it was so great to get to talk to you!
Keep watching – I hope we don’t disappoint!
Be sure to support Edyta and her partner Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins after this week’s performance show on ABC!
Edyta’s fitness DVDs DANCING WITH THE PROS is available at her website www.dancingpros.com. To enter to win 1 of 2 copies that the TVAddict is please to give away, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling us why you watch Dancing With the Stars!