It's all-American week on Dancing with the Stars — a theme near and dear to Petra Nemcova's and Dmitry Chaplin's hearts because they weren't born in the United States. "It's quite special for me and Dmitry," Nemcova tells TVGuide.com. "The quickstep will be a thank you for all the opportunities we've received coming to America." So what can we expect from their dance? Find out below. Plus: Why is she a clumsy elephant?
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How's the quickstep coming?
Petra Nemcova: Very well. It's different from the devilish paso doble! Now I can be smiley and more myself, which is definitely more enjoyable. But it's all-American week and we want to say thank you. We accomplished our dreams because of the openness of everyone's hearts here in America. My dream was to help children and I was fortunate to establish the Happy Hearts Fund. One of the greatest things about Americans is that there's such a strong philanthropic identity in the DNA of the U.S. It's such a charitable nation, so it's a thank you for all the opportunities not only for my dreams, but for the dreams of children all around the world.
Are you telling a story throughout the dance?
Nemcova: We do have a story, but it's not related to the thank you, because the song is about a special city in the U.S. There's no other place like this city, so we kind of had to make it more themed about the city. The singer of the song is one of the greatest in history, so we're very excited about it. I think it's going to be great.
Did you have any trouble learning the choreography?
Nemcova: There are so many fast steps! I was a bit afraid of the quickstep because everyone said it was challenging. It's definitely fast and it's a challenge, but I'm enjoying it. I'm picking it up. I still have to work on many things. And the stamina — it's crazy at the end, you're just like, "Oh my God!" Dmitry needs extra energy, but I need new feet! They are burning! It's a stamina dance, but it's good to be able to smile through it.
Nemcova: [Laughs] Nope! Last week was so funny. He worked very hard to make me angry! Every week, he takes a different approach, depending on the dance. Last week, he was trying to piss me off for the whole week and teasing me, holding my legs. Every week is a different challenge — different character, different pain! You feel pain in different parts of your body. Last week, it was the lower back for the paso. This week is my feet. The waltz was my neck. There are different bruises in different places. I should be marking waltz bruises and paso bruises.You suffered a serious hip injury in the 2004 tsunami. How concerned are you about re-aggravating it or getting another injury?
Nemcova: I definitely am concerned when we do tricks, like for the jive. I had a time trusting Dmitry to slide through his legs and jump in the air without bumping my pelvis. It was hard to overcome that. My pelvis definitely hurts. That's one thing that is constant. But I get massages to release the tension. I have a girlfriend staying with me and she's an amazing acupuncturist, so she always helps me. I'm afraid it's going to lock and I'm not going to be able to take a step. I'm trying not to go overboard [in rehearsals], but I'm also trying not to be afraid because when you're afraid, you can cause more problems. The judges have said you need to work on your core strength. Are you doing anything to improve that?
Nemcova: We are doing ballet. It's amazing for many things: fluidity, being more balanced, being more aware of your body. Before the show, I was really not aware of my body, what every muscle does. Most of my time was spent creating programs for children and strategies — mental work, nothing physical. I had no dance background. I'm a clumsy elephant — not coordinated. I have a really heavy walk. My sister used to make fun of me that I danced and walked like an elephant. Dmitry was saying in the beginning that he was teaching me how to walk. Now I can pick up steps better and I'm more aware of my body. It's exciting because you learn not just ballroom dancing, but how you can overcome anything when your mind doesn't block you. You cannot focus on the worst. Dancing's Cheryl Burke hopes to bring out Chris Jericho's "gentlemanly side"You've done well with ballroom and Latin dances. Do you prefer one over the other? You did get a 25 with the waltz.
Nemcova: I love the waltz. The story behind it and the song is very dear to me. Dmitry did amazing choreography for that. I think the ballroom dances fit me better than the Latin ones just because I'm really tall. It's more challenging doing Latin. You need much more speed and effort for Latin because you have [to cover] more distance for any type of kicks. And you see more of the legs and you can see more mistakes. I enjoyed the paso. It was hard one, but fun. Ballroom — it seems like I can master it better and faster than Latin. Models haven't fared that well on Dancing. Do you think you can break the model curse?
Nemcova: [Laughs] We'll see what will happen. Hopefully I can break the curse! Honestly, for me, it's not about going from Point A to B, but enjoying the journey throughout. If there's a week where it's the last one, then I have to do something else and that will be focusing on rebuilding schools for children, which is a great thing to go back to. Life in general to me is about the journey. Even the dancing — dancing with purpose to raise awareness for children who were victims of natural disasters. I will be doing the same thing after this, but reusing different parts of my body. I may have to ice down my brain instead of my feet then!