After tumbling during their paso doble, Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff staged an impressive comeback last week on Dancing with the Stars, nabbing their first 10 to top the leader board. "That felt so great!" Smirnoff tells TVGuide.com. "When I fell and Ralph was there for me 100 percent, that made us stronger as a couple. I knew I could rely on him 150 percent and he was there for me. That made us realize I'm only as strong as he is and he's only as strong as I am. It made us better together as a team and I think we're better than ever." The two hope to keep their momentum going this week with their "insanely cool" Viennese waltz and their cha-cha, which will be the Instant Dance. See what they have up their sleeves and why they want to get Len new scoring paddles.
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You've said your Viennese waltz is one that's never been done before.
Karina Smirnoff: It's going to be so awesome! I requested this song in the beginning of the season, so I've been waiting to do this for a while. It's just going to be a completely different spin on the Viennese waltz. It's usually romantic and elegant, but ours is dark, edgy and sexy. Ralph is so different and so sexy and so dominant in it. It's really cool. He's totally into the character of the dance. I'm so excited about it.
How do you think the judges are going to react to it, especially Len? Is it still a traditional routine?
Smirnoff: It's still traditional. I'm not changing the moves. They're all Viennese waltz elements. Len won't say we broke any rules. The only difference is the mood. I think it's going to take everyone by surprise, but I think it's going to work. We're both really pumped about it. It's just a fresh twist on something you've seen plenty of times before. I think the judges will love it. I hope they will!
How's the cha-cha going?
Smirnoff: Great! It's so funny because that was the team dance last week and Ralph was nervous about doing all the moves and shaking his hips and stuff, but he slowly got comfortable with it and now he can't wait to do a whole routine. It's going to be hot and fun. Let me tell you, he's really gotten into the cha-cha. He is shaking it and working it! Between this and the Viennese waltz, this will be the sexiest you'll ever see him!
The cha-cha's also the Instant Dance. What's your plan? Are you not worried about the music?
Smirnoff: Yeah, I'm not worried about it. It's choreographed in a way that's adaptable to whatever music they give us. It's obviously not completely done, but we have most of it down and I left some leeway if we need to change anything. We have option A or option B, and we'll just work on it in those 30 minutes or whatever before we have to dance.
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How has Ralph been handling not only having two dances, but one where he doesn't even know the music?
Smirnoff: It's so tough, especially at this point in the show, but he's been doing well. You do get really tired sometimes, and you have brain farts. Like I could tell him to step right and he'll step left. And I'll say, "No, right!" And he'll keep stepping left! [Laughs] It's hard, but we always pull through at the end of the day. This show is a testament to how powerful the human mind and will is for the pros and the celebrities. I was talking to Mark Ballas today and he was like, "Are you OK?" I said yes, but I'm just, like, exhausted. It's an effort to talk. It took me four hours to get out of bed today!
Are there any things, technique-wise, you're focusing on this week?
Smirnoff: The Viennese waltz is a little bit of a faster dance in the ballroom. It has a little bit of a rise and fall, but it's mostly constant fluidity. It shouldn't have any stops or jerky movements. It should look like you're literally skating on the dance floor. That's the main thing we've been working on. And of course, making sure the shoulders are down and the spine is straight, and that one movement flows into another one. In cha-cha, it's the complete opposite. We're making sure his footwork is sharp, clear and his footwork is right — no heel leads, no turns in — and his hips are moving like it's an earthquake! He has natural rhythm and natural musicality, so that's our biggest strength.
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No one's gotten a perfect 30 yet. Do you think either of these dances can get one, or are you not focused on scores?
Smirnoff: We were actually joking about it. We said Len must've misplaced his 10 paddle because he hasn't used it this season it. Maybe it's not that he's not using it — I think he has just misplaced it! [Laughs] We think we need to get a new one and leave it right on the desk for him to see. I hope we can get a 30. The judges have been picky with everyone. His highest score from Len is 8. They're pushing us all to do more and to try to get better and produce better quality dances. We're hoping Len will warm up to a 9 or a 10.
Why do you think there have there been so many falls? Is the floor cursed?
Smirnoff: That definitely would be the easiest explanation! But I think, for me anyway — I can't speak for Kirstie [Alley] — I was late to pull around and the coat was way too long, even though I designed it and I still stand by it because he looked hot in it! It was funny because when I fell, it was so fast and he picked me up in, like, one second, but in that moment, I felt like I was laying there for half an hour. I was turning around, seeing the audience, like, 'What is going on?!' He got me up and was like, "You OK?" We got through it and we're not looking back!