Evan Lysacek "Sacrificing Sleep and Eating" for Dancing
Evan Lysacek has to do a futuristic cha-cha on Monday's Dancing with the Stars, but he doesn't want to look too far ahead after that. "I'm having the time of my life. I'm already starting to dread the morning I wake up and I don't have a new dance to learn and I don't have a performance that night on the ice," the Olympic champ, who's simultaneously touring with Stars on Ice, tells TVGuide.com. "It's really like a family here and it's something I never really had in skating because it's such an individual sport. I'm so glad I'm doing both." Lysacek, who got the season's first perfect score of 30 last week, is doubling up on dances too, as he must also perform a waltz. Does he feel pressure to maintain perfection?
TVGuide.com: You drew a futuristic cha-cha. How tough is it to work with such an open-ended theme?
Evan Lysacek: It's been interesting. You're right. It's open to interpretation and you don't want to go too literal and dress up as a Martian or a robot. We want to be obviously human. [Laughs] We wanted to go a little bit abstract and bring some cool, angular movements to it, but at the same time, find the balance between and show technique. We tried to go 50-50 — half-modern and half-cha-cha with the choreography. We stylized the stuff that is cha-cha so it looks like it fits in and we're not jumping back and forth. Our costumes, I'd say, are modern. They're kind of what we imagined people would wear if they went to dance in a club in 200 years.
Check out photos of Evan Lysacek on Dancing
TVGuide.com: You're coming off the team cha-cha. How much does that help you?
Lysacek: It was really helpful. I was the only member of our team who didn't do it yet. They all gave me a couple pointers and even though the steps aren't the same, the movement is similar. Then we have the waltz, which is similar to the Viennese waltz, which we did in Week 1. But I don't totally remember everything about it, so we need a little review session! The dances are going well. We got about eight hours in yesterday, which is more than we do usually, but we were sacrificing sleep and eating!
TVGuide.com: Were you worried about doing two dances, or are you used to multiple routines since you do short, long and exhibition programs in skating?
Lysacek: One of the biggest challenges I've always had in skating is learning stuff and remembering it actually. [Laughs] We don't have that much choreography in a skating routine. We mainly go trick to trick and we do a few arm movements. There's not a ton of choreography, so this has been a completely new experience, having to learn hundreds of steps every week. I think we eased into it having one dance a week to one dance and the marathon to one dance and the team dances. I think I'm ready to do two dances. I have my two routines for Stars on Ice too. There's a lot to remember.
TVGuide.com: Do you ever mix them up?
Lysacek: One time, I did a step and I didn't know where it came from on the ice. Then I remembered it was from my rumba. I think sometimes people don't know just how different skating and dancing are. I think because we have to show control, some choreography, and there's music, people think it's the same. But they're different. If I'm not stroking properly, it's going to affect my skating. If I'm trying to do skating strokes in my dancing, it's going to look terrible. I just have to switch mindsets. It's just about being focused and aware.
Evan Lysacek has two broken toes
TVGuide.com: How are your toes and head?
Lysacek: Everything's good. A lot of times, as an athlete, you don't really know your limit or you won't accept it until you've gone a little past it, and I think that's what we did and it was a little dangerous. ... I have to be careful [with my head] because I had internal bleeding a few years ago from an accident on the ice. I felt like this was potentially a more serious injury than it wound up to be, so I was lucky. I wasn't trying at all to make it more dramatic than it was. I really was concerned. And I had to skate that night, so I wanted to make sure that I could clear a field of play tests, which they would do for any other athlete in any other sport if they hit their head.
TVGuide.com: You're really close with Erin Andrews. Were you there when she heard about Elisabeth Hasselbeck's comments?
Lysacek: We hung out the night before because Cheryl [Burke]'s birthday was Monday, and it carried over into Erin's birthday. We were like, "Happy birthday, but we're really going to celebrate tomorrow." I got to set, so excited to see my friend and she was in tears. And that was infuriating. After all she's been through, this was so inappropriate. She's such a tough person and she can take it. She can put a smile on, go on TV and not look like she's affected, but she is. When someone says something insensitive, it hurts. We support her 100 percent. We had a really good time celebrating her birthday and tried not to talk about the negativity. We were all excited that we made it through to the next week and just toasted Erin.
TVGuide.com: You had a lot to celebrate too — getting the first perfect 30. Do you feel more pressure to deliver on the cha-cha and waltz now?
Lysacek: Not really. I just hope we can continue to improve and do our best. You can't predict what the judges will give you. [The 30] felt great. I think the majority of the work was [done by] Anna [Trebunskaya]. She taught me the steps and figured out a way to really teach me the flavor. She's a great teacher and a great partner. She was extremely excited because that was her first perfect score ever.
Evan Lysacek: Dancing a chance to "prove critics wrong"
TVGuide.com: Your packages are refreshing compared to everyone else's because you guys just seem focused on working. There's no drama or fights.
Lysacek: We don't have time to fight. We get along really well and are really good friends. We don't confuse our roles, I think, because I'm used to that approach: I'm the student and someone — Anna — is the coach and teacher. I think an understanding of those roles is really helpful when you're in this environment. We do butt heads, but we're not ever disrespectful about it, and I think that's why they're not even eye-catching moments on film because they're more conversational than anything.
TVGuide.com: How did you regroup after the samba? What went wrong there?
Lysacek: I was disappointed in my approach and a little angry at myself because I forgot that I'm doing this to have fun. We got some 8s, and then I wanted to get 9s. How do we get a 9? We got a 9. How do we get all 9s? OK, we got all 9s, and it started to spiral where I was preoccupied with the scores. The samba was not my strongest dance and I was trying to force it. I was thinking, "Don't make mistakes. Don't forget anything. Don't hold my partner wrong." I was missing the most important part, which was the fun. So we changed our mentality. When I went out for the Argentine tango, I was fired up. I was like, "I'm the man here. I'm in control. If I miss a step, I don't care. If I hold Anna wrong, it doesn't matter. I'm going to be in control and lead her through this dance."
TVGuide.com: You were the alpha dog and she was the omega sheep.
Lysacek: [Laughs] Yeah, she said, "If you're alpha, what does that make me? Beta?" I said, "Maybe omega." She said, "Omega dog?" "No, there can only be one dog, so you can be omega sheep." I don't know why I said sheep. Because a dog leads sheep? It leads the herd? I don't know! I say random things and just pray that they don't use them in packages, but they always do!