Laurie Hernandez is “Cute Laurie” no more!
The 16-year-old Olympic gymnast showed off her sultry side on Dancing With the Stars on Monday, performing a passionate tango on the one-hour live face-off show, where pairs were pitted against another couple to compete for immunity in Tuesday’s elimination show.
Hernandez was initially worried that her youth may be a detriment this week, as she and pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy were given the tango, a more “intense” dance that requires a lot of passion. Going up against Derek Hough and Marilu Henner, 64, certainly didn’t ease her nerves!
“It sounds like a whole other level of woman that I don’t know about,” Hernandez said of the tango, with a nervous laugh. She reacted with widened eyes after lingerie was bandied about during a wardrobe fitting and couldn’t contain her giggling after Chmerkovskiy told her to put her hand on his face during rehearsals.
“It’s not like I’ve ever had like a boyfriend or anything,” the gold medalist said. “I mean, I sleep with a teddy bear at night!”
When it came time to dance the tango, however, there was absolutely no sign of Cute Laurie.
Rocking a sparkling black backless dress with thigh-high slits and a dramatic dark lip, Hernandez completely shed her All-American image for her red-hot DWTS tango with Chmerkovskiy.
The week of rehearsals paid off. Hernandez and Chmerkovskiy snagged a 31 out of a possible 40 and beating the Henner-Hough pairing for immunity. (Carrie Ann Inaba deducted a point for including a lift in the routine. So in reality, Hernandez’s score could have been a 32.)
After the routine, even Chmerkovskiy had to ask Hernandez how she channeled her inner passion.
“I was struggling to put in that emotion so I was like, I gotta pretend I’m smelling a really good quesadilla,” Hernandez adorably revealed.
Oh, to be young!
Dancing With the Stars airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.