Dancing's Peta Murgatroyd: I'm Not Focused on Getting a Perfect Score
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Peta Murgatroyd and Gilles Marini could barely contain their excitement last week when they found out their Team Freestyle song on Dancing with the Stars is PSY's "Gangnam Style" — so much so that they had to double-check. "I couldn't believe it," Murgatroyd tells TVGuide.com. "It was too perfect, so I had to make sure. We were thrilled, as you saw." The defending champ is also thrilled with their team, which includes boyfriend Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Kirstie Alley, Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkvoskiy, and Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke, Marini's former partner. So what can we expect from their team dance and their individual rumba? Keep reading!
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How are rehearsals going?
Peta Murgatroyd: Good. We kind of started both routines and got both half done. I think the rumba is going to take a longer amount of time because it's a full dance I have to do with him. "Gangnam Style" is going to be a fun one. We put that one together very quickly. ... It's pretty much divided into the four solos and we have a beginning and end group sections. We already have the choreography for the beginning and the end. Now we're just working on the solo stuff. ... We're definitely spending more time with the rumba.
"Gangnam Style" already has built-in moves, so how much work do you even have to do?
Murgatroyd: Yeah, exactly! [Laughs] We have definitely put a lot of those tricks in there.
I love your reactions when you found out that was your song.
Murgatroyd: Oh, yes! Well, that's one of my favorite songs. It just kills me every time I see that video. When I saw we had it, I was like, "Oh, my God! That's going to be amazing to do and replicate!"
You guys definitely got the better song for a dance compared to "Call Me Maybe."
Murgatroyd: I think so too! [Laughs] I'm sure theirs will be amazing. They're all young and physically fit, so they can do it all.
How did you guys put together the team dance? Did you designate a lead choreographer or do you guys collaborate?
Murgatroyd: We actually sent the celebrities out for, like, half an hour just because it's easier when the pros work together. Maks and I took some of the leadership and got some of the group stuff down, so I would say we're the co-leaders.
I think it's safe to say you're happy with your team selection.
Murgatroyd: [Laughs] Yeah. I wanted first pick and we got it. I love those guys, obviously, Maks and Val. I love Cheryl as well. She's a great friend and she was Gilles' former partner, so it was perfect. I think there's so much heart and soul on our team. The celebrities are just fun. They just want to entertain. They don't really care about not having the best technique and that's the best song for it.
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Gilles wanted to make it sexy with Kelly and Val. Can you really make "Gangnam Style" sexy?
Murgatroyd: [Laughs] I really wouldn't call it sexy. I would call it a whole lot of fun. But, I mean, they're just a sexy couple anyway.
How's the rumba coming along?
Murgatroyd: Our rumba is going to be crowd-pleasing and it's to one of the awesomest songs ever, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." That's Gilles' guilty pleasure song. He apparently used to sing it when he was younger and the other boys didn't like it. I hope it's going to be one of the best dances of the evening because most people are going to be doing a faster dance, like a samba. We're going to come out with a serious rumba.
He said he wanted all 10s last week, and Donald [Driver] was obsessed with getting a perfect score last season, which you also made a goal. Are you focused on that now, especially since you were a half-point away from one?
Murgatroyd: Yeah, they're hung up on 10s! I think Gilles definitely wants them, but I'm not striving for that yet because the competition is so fierce at the moment. It's going to take a long time, I think, for anyone to get a perfect score. And with the half-points, it's easier for the judges not to give a perfect score. I just want his technique in the rumba to be really, really good. I don't want them to say, "you're too sexy" or "you made it too over-the-top," so I'm trying to put in a really good balance of emotion and technique. I definitely want them to say he has good technique.
That picture he tweeted of you with your leg literally straight up past his shoulders is crazy.
Murgatroyd: Oh, my God! I couldn't believe he tweeted that. I was like, "What are you doing?!" [Laughs] I'm very flexible. I had ballet training for many, many years, so I can do stuff like that and splits very easily. It will be [in the dance], so look out for it!
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A lot of fans believe Gilles should've won Season 8. Do you feel pressure to take him to at least the finals?
Murgatroyd: I don't think I feel pressure. I just feel like I would love to do it for him. I would love for him to have the Mirrorball trophy just because he was so amazing his first season. There is talk about how he should've won and stuff, and I think he's doing an amazing job on All-Stars. All-Stars is the best of the best. If we make it to the finale, I would be happy.
What's your take on everyone else who's left?
Murgatroyd: I think everyone who's left is the best of who should be there. Apolo [Anton Ohno] and Karina [Smirnoff] are just amazing. I'm so glad her fall didn't get them eliminated. They're so good. Kirstie has got the heart and soul, but she has good technique as well, which I think a lot of people overlook because she's such a great personality. Sabrina [Bryan] is a powerhouse. She's just out of this world. She's a freak of nature. She can literally be in the troupe. Kelly and Val are incredible and have the best chemistry I've seen. Melissa [Rycroft] and Tony [Dovolani] are fantastic. She's really pushing herself and you can see that. Shawn [Johnson] and Derek [Hough] — obviously, they're the best of the best right now. They just keep pumping out these incredible routines and you're like, "How do we top that?"
Gilles said he downed a $400 bottle of wine after your tango because he was worried he would get eliminated. Did you join him?
Murgatroyd: [Laughs] No, I didn't. That was so funny. He had a little meltdown!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC. Both nights will be performance shows this week and there will be no elimination.