Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas
Dancing with the Stars' first elimination turned out to be moot after Dorothy Hamill withdrew with a spine injury. But since that was kept on the down low from the cast until the show announcement, no one's nerves were quelled. "No one knew [so] I was really nervous," Aly Raisman tells TVGuide.com. "Standing up there, I was like, 'This just got real! Someone's going to leave.' Luckily, we were saved pretty early." Raisman and her partner Mark Ballas are in third place on the leader board after two weeks and have the Viennese waltz next on Prom Week. Get the scoop on the routine and their "cool surprise."
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How's the Viennese waltz going?
Aly Raisman: It's good. We have a shorter time to learn the dance now and I came home [to Boston] this week for my sister's Bat Mitzvah ... but it's going well. I'm really excited about it. I'm glad it's a slower dance and not the quickstep or jive or something fast with lots of steps. I love the song we have and the story we're telling.
What's the story? Is Mark asking you to prom?
Raisman: He's not. [Laughs] It's a really cool surprise. I can't really say more than that. It's not a clichéd, cheesy thing at all. I like it a lot. I hope people understand it and like it. It's mature, so hopefully I'll be able to pull it off.
What's your prom dress?
Raisman: It's a lilac purple and goes down to the floor. It's chiffon and really elegant, but it's kind of like a prom dress too.
How does that compare to your real prom dress?
Raisman: My prom dress was chocolate brown with a not-very-low V-neck. It had cap sleeves with beading and crystals on them.
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You don't see a lot of chocolate brown prom dresses.
Raisman: Yeah. It was different and simple. I don't really like bright colors, so that's why I did it. It was kind of a jersey material. I'm not a typical prom girl. Lilac's more of a typical prom color, I guess, but I like really simple clothing.
You've said you had trouble with counting, so how are you doing now?
Raisman: It's improving. The Viennese waltz is eight-count, whereas the others were four-four counts, so that's new. But I'm definitely improving each week. I'm getting more and more comfortable with the music and really understanding it, whereas before I just listened to the song. Now I listen to the instruments and the beat and the lyrics.
Your first two dances were pretty solid and you're in third place right now. How would you assess them?
Raisman: I was really happy with how they went. Both of them were the best routines I did of the week. I saved them for the time they really counted. I think everyone steps it up when they're performing. I watch everyone in dress rehearsal and they look good, but I think we all get our nerves out then and we let loose during the real thing and enjoy ourselves.
I think some people were expecting you to be similar to Shawn [Johnson], but you've proven that to be wrong.
Raisman: I haven't heard too many comparisons myself between me and Shawn, but I have heard a lot from fans who are really excited to get to know me. That means a lot. I want people to see that I'm this mysterious gymnast, so I'm happy the real me is coming through
As an athlete, what was it like seeing Dorothy withdraw?
Raisman: It was really sad. I definitely felt like I had a connection to her and I was enjoying getting to know her. Getting an injury is the worst thing ever for an athlete. You train so long and so hard and suddenly you can't or have to stop. Obviously this isn't her career, but it's still tough. We had no idea she was going to pull out. The whole cast got emotional. I saw her during the week. She only had one day to rehearse. I think her going out there on Monday just shows how strong she is. But even though this is a competition, your well-being always comes first.
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Who's impressed you so far?
Raisman: I think everyone's been really, really good. Zendaya and Kellie [Pickler] are unbelievable. Jacoby [Jones] did such a great job last week. His facial expressions are awesome.
Did he also go to the Mark Ballas School of Face-Making?
Raisman: [Laughs] Maybe! I always laugh at Mark's facial expressions. How can you not? I went on YouTube and watched a bunch of his old routines to try to copy them. He always tells me to just go with it. They look goofy, but you have to feel the dance and the music. The Viennese waltz will be more serious and romantic.
What happened to the Raisman Parents Cam we talked about?
Raisman: [Laughs] Well, they're actually totally fine watching me dance. They're not nervous at all and just want to enjoy it, so I don't know how funny it'd be. They've been at both performance shows so far and my mom's coming to Monday's. Maybe they'll be more nervous if I make it further.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.