EXCLUSIVE: 'DWTS' Pro Lindsay Arnold Talks Calvin Johnson's 'Out of This World' Jive and Sharna Burgess' Injur
By Desiree Murphy
Photo: Getty Images
Lindsay Arnold and Calvin Johnson are officially back on top of the Dancing With the Stars leaderboard -- and this time, they're planning to stay there!
Following the pair's flawless, high-energy '50s jive to Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly" on Monday night's show, ET chatted with the 22-year-old dancer, where she gave us the full scoop on what really went down in rehearsals as she and the former NFL pro geared up for the competition's Eras Night.
"It feels amazing to be back on top," Arnold gushed. "Honestly, going into this week, I was probably feeling the least best about our jive than I had with any other dance. It was super tough for us. It was a high-energy dance and lots of technique that was involved."
"But Calvin seriously pulled out everything I asked of him the entire week in that performance," she continued. "I mean, he nailed it! He had his toes pointed, he performed, it could not have gone any better."
ET: Calvin's footwork was perfect last night, but even if he did mess up, his smile and personality would have made up for it. He looked like he was having so much fun up there!
Lindsay Arnold: So true! His performance level was out of this world last night. You know what, it's funny though, because I don't think it was his favorite during rehearsals. But then last night he was like, "Wow, that was the first time I really danced it and had fun with it." Jive is not easy at all -- you have to be dancing 150 percent!
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said Megatron made it "Calvinized," and Len Goodman was very impressed by his improvement. How did you and Calvin take those comments?
We were really excited to hear what Len had to say, especially since he was temporarily gone from the show. We were hoping to hear him say what he did, and hearing him say he's seen improvement was such a treat for me as a teacher, knowing I actually helped him progress as a dancer, and then for Calvin because those words of encouragement mean everything. When you're in the competition, it's hard to recognize how far you've come.
The '50s was such a fun era. Were you and Calvin stoked when you got that decade? How do you plan to top that routine next week?
We were really excited, because Calvin loves that kind of music. I feel like that [era] is his inner personality. It was a great style for him, and enabled him to really bring out his inner Calvin. Next week we have the quick step, which is similar to jive in the way that it's very high energy, but we're back in frame, which we haven't been in for a couple of weeks. It will be cool, I think, to show his improvement on that as well.
You guys also had a group dance this week. What was it was like rehearsing for 'Team Past'? How did you tackle two dances with such a busy schedule?
The team dance was hard, especially because Calvin and I were out of town [in Detroit] most of the week. The pros got together and figured out the rest of the dance at about midnight the night before a 9 a.m. rehearsal -- it was the only time we could really all get together.
I was really happy with it. Doing that group dance, it proves that sometimes just switching it up a bit is key. The group of pro dancers we had [Sharna Burgess, Artem Chigvintsev, Cheryl Burke] worked together so well, so that was the ticket to winning that challenge.
During rehearsals for the team dance, Sharna Burgess suffered a knee injury. What exactly happened? Is she doing OK?
In our dress rehearsal, it was the first time we had done the dance in our ball gowns, which were beautiful, but a bit too long. All of us were slipping on them. Calvin tripped on mine at one point and kind of ripped my skirt during rehearsal. James [Hinchcliffe] and Sharna actually took a fall. James tripped on her dress and it caused them both to fall down, and she tweaked her knee a little.
It's a little bit scary, especially before the live show, because if something happens to us [pros], we still have got to try and make it happen. I'm hoping today that she's feeling a bit better. She's been taking great care of it, icing it, but it's scary because our bodies are our work -- we have to take care of them -- but we also don't want to let our partners or our team down.
Last night after the show, she said it was still bothering her but that she's going to be OK after some rest. I'll definitely be checking up on her!
Another scary moment was last night's results. Jana Kramer and her partner, Gleb Savchenko, had perfect scores last week with their Argentine tango, but were in danger of elimination against Maureen McCormick and Artem (who eventually went home). Was everyone shocked Jana was in the bottom?
It just puts everything into perspective. Even if you're the highest-scoring couple, you still could go home. It really truly depends on America's vote, and that's why it's so important for the celebrities to show their personalities every single week and make sure America recognizes how hard they're working.
A lot of DWTS fans have been saying that you kind of remind them of judge and former pro, Julianne Hough -- that you share that same 'It' factor, as well as skill and talent. How do you feel about those comparisons?
That's such an honor! Julianne is such an incredible dancer and an incredible person. She's had so much success in her life already, and I know that there's so much more in store for her, so I absolutely love those comments.
I definitely want to live up to that. I obviously still want to be me, but I love that people recognize that because she's someone I've looked up to since I was a young girl. She grew up in Utah, and she actually danced at the same studio as me. So as a dancer, I've also aspired to do what she has done.
In the dance world, it's extremely important to connect with your partner, to have chemistry, but to outsiders, it may not always seem that way. Fans want to know, does your hubby Sam Cusick ever find it hard to watch you dance with another guy?
That's so funny! I just got out of the car with him, otherwise I would have totally had him answer that. But no, he is so great about that. We've been together for about five years, so he has seen the entire dance world. It wasn't hard for him, but it was definitely something he had to get used to.
When you're getting so close to someone, getting really physically connected with them, it's impossible for some people to imagine there isn't a romantic connection. But it's truly all acting! Sam completely understands, and it's funny because now he totally supports that connection. He'll be like, 'You and Calvin need to get into it more, you need to be face to face more.' He loves it and gets that it's all part of the job.
You took over ET's Snapchat last night, and we got to meet one of your adorable little sisters, Riley. What was it like having her there for support?
Yes! I had my entire family at the show last night, I have three younger sisters and they're all dancers, and then my wonderful parents. They're the most supportive people ever. It meant a lot to me to have them all at the show last night.
Cute little Riley, she's so funny. She loves being at the show and just watching, because I think that's something she could definitely do in her future. [My sisters] they could be on DWTS, I have no doubt in my mind. They are all so good and have surpassed me. When I was their age, I wasn't nearly as good as they are! They have a bright future ahead of them, and I'll be sure to help them along the way.
The DWTS pro will be chatting with ET every Tuesday throughout the competition, and taking over ET's Snapchat (@etnow) each Monday. Got a question for Arnold or Johnson? Tweet me @desireemurphy_!