Romeo may be portrayed as a flirt on Dancing with the Stars, but Chelsie Hightower says the rapper is all business this week after getting tepid critiques for their rumba. "We are working our butts off!" she tells TVGuide.com. "We joke around, but our main goal is to focus on the dancing and we're working extra-hard this week to come back stronger with our paso doble." Making their comeback slightly more difficult is the show's first classical week, which will feature a 46-piece orchestra for each couple's dance — not exactly the type of music that goes with the paso.
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Len wasn't very fond of your rumba. What do you think of his comments?
Chelsie Hightower: Well, I wish he liked it! [Laughs] Sometimes you think you have a great dance, and then you perform for the judges and sometimes they love it and sometimes they don't. It's always hit and miss. We were happy with it. At the end of the day, we're just using criticism as motivation to do better this week.
What'd you think of your performance?
Hightower: I thought it was awesome. My main thing was that I wanted Romeo to come out and really get into the emotion of the dance. He did exactly that. He sacrificed a little bit of the dancing for it. And that's fine. It was storytelling week and we wanted to tell a story that was very important to Romeo [about his late cousins], and that's what we did. So we were completely happy with it.
How's the paso doble coming along?
Hightower: It's good. It's definitely a more difficult dance, especially since we have classical music because there are so many intricacies with the classical music. But I think it's going to pay off in the end.
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Are you approaching the choreography any differently because it's classical week?
Hightower: I wouldn't say a different approach, per se. We're taking the same approach, but it requires more work. It's harder to find the balance between the paso moves, which are aggressive and in-your-face, and the music. On top of that, the stage is going to be different with the orchestra. It's a challenge, but we're both up for it. We're definitely putting in a lot more hours this week.
The judges have harped on Romeo's technique. What are you working on this week?
Hightower: His footwork and posture, especially for the paso — you need a really strong frame. And technique in general — he's been called out for various things in the past few weeks, so we're trying to improve upon that so that they can't pick on us for that anymore! But at the same time, it's a work in progress. It's still the beginning of the competition. We still have weeks to grow and get stronger. But we're definitely trying to deliver an awesome comeback dance this week. I think this could be it.
Romeo has a lot of natural ability, but does he have any bad habits?
Hightower: No. The nice part about working with someone without any dance experience is that they don't have any bad habits. He basically came in as a blank slate, so we're just working from the ground up. He definitely has some natural rhythm in there and we're just trying to bring that out every week.
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When the cast was announced, a lot of people thought Romeo and Chelsea Kane would have an advantage being young, but it's the older contestants who are leading.
Hightower: I know! I think it's great. It just shows that you never know who's going to come out and wow everyone. It's fun to guess how people are going to do, but it's hard to have preconceived notions or expectations before you see everyone dance. I'm very happy for Ralph [Macchio] and Kirstie [Alley]. They're such great people. We love having them around and we're happy they're doing so well and proving so many people wrong. ... This is a season where no one comes in as a favorite or a strong ringer. And that's nice. That makes everyone feel like they have a chance and that they're on the same level.
Romeo said he wanted to redeem his dad's score of 2, which I think we can all agree he has already, so will we see Master P on this season at all?
Hightower: [Laughs] I'm not sure. I don't think you'll see him this week, but I'm sure he will make an appearance at some point. Will he dance? Who knows!