EXCLUSIVE: Lindsay Arnold on Calvin Johnson's First Perfect Score and the 'DWTS' Contestant He Texts for Advic
By Desiree Murphy
Photo: Getty Images
Lindsay Arnold couldn't be more proud of Calvin Johnson.
The dance duo wowed the judges with their quick step to "Dr. Bones" on Dancing With the Stars' Halloween-themed episode Monday night, receiving their first perfect score. Following the exciting moment, ET chatted with the 22-year-old dancer, where she spilled on all the behind-the-scenes action that took place as they geared up for week eight of the competition.
ET: Judges Julianne Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli had nothing but amazing things to say about you and Megatron's performance last night. Congrats!
Lindsay Arnold: Thank you so much. It was amazing, we have been waiting for that. It's seriously been a long time coming. He totally deserved it, and I'm so happy that finally happened for us during Halloween night.
I don't know if people noticed this, but the bones on my costume were legit bones from a skeleton -- like, [the costume department] took apart a skeleton that you'd use in anatomy class, and attached it to my costume, so it was 3-D bones. It was a lot, but so amazing.
After getting our scores, we were jumping and screaming, but then immediately had to get de-skeletonized and ready for the Dance Off. I was in the makeup chair with all hands on deck, people trying to hurry and take off my skeleton makeup, fixing my hair, while also cleaning Calvin's face and rehearsing the three dances backstage because at that point, we still weren't sure which style we were going to get.
You had to prepare four dances this week in preparation for the Dance Off challenge. You and Calvin ultimately lost the jive to Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy, but it still looked like you were having a blast onstage! How did you manage to do all of that in such a short period of time?
That was a stressful part of the show. Calvin and I focused on our [main dance] quickstep Tuesday through Friday, and didn't even touch on the Dance Off dances until Saturday. I felt like if I crammed too much in at once, he wouldn't be able to get the first dance. So, once we felt good about our quickstep, we started working on the others.
It was tough. I really tried to pull things he already knew, because I really didn't want him to learn brand new choreography. I was able to put it together in a way that really worked in his favor, but at the same time it was really hard. You can't give equal amount of time to four dances and expect all of them to be great.
The Dance Off actually received mixed reviews from fans of the show. Some loved it, others weren't feeling it. As a pro, were you a fan of the challenge?
You know what? I personally don't love the dance off, because it's not like we're given a dance where we can choreograph using the whole stage. We also didn't know what part of the music we'd even be dancing to, because until we were chosen, we weren't sure if we were the first solo, or second solo, so I couldn't even choreograph to the lyrics of the music. Choreographically, it's not the best, and also using only half of the stage was hard, especially with Calvin who travels a lot when he dances.
It's not personally my favorite, but I do think it's a fun moment to see how the celebrities handle the pressure. I was really proud of Calvin because he handled it great, and it shows that he can do well under pressure. It's intimidating enough as a pro! Especially on national television, you don't ever want to feel like you don't know what you're about to do, and that's exactly how you feel for the Dance Off.
Well, speaking of pressure, I've noticed that Calvin and James Hinchcliffe, who's also on top of the leaderboard, have started this friendly competition, always jokingly calling each other out. What's their relationship actually like when the cameras aren't rolling?
They are awesome, they are such close friends! Their relationship really kicked off [last week] when we had Team Dance -- we were on the same team as James and [his partner] Sharna Burgess.
It's so funny, because James and Calvin would text each other after rehearsal. They'd meet up early to go over their steps together. I think it's because they're both athletes, and they both get that it takes a lot of work to be doing what they're doing and to step out of their comfort zones.
They're using the fact that they're both out of their elements to kind of support each other, and make each other stronger. It's awesome! It's a competition, and yes, they want to beat each other, but at the same time they're supporting each other along the way. I think that's great.
In your interview package, fans also got a better look at your relationship with Calvin, in which he pokes fun at you and says you're like his "little sister." What other fun moments can you share?
We just have a very fun, playful relationship. We tease each other a lot -- whether that's he loves me or is annoyed by me. But then again, we have a really good foundation of trust and he's so willing to do anything I ask. He never questions or doubts me as a teacher, and that's really great.
It was also really cool that I finally got to meet his 2-year-old son, Caleb. That's something I had really been looking forward to! I know Caleb means a lot to Calvin, he's his whole world.
We're now only weeks away from the end of the competition and you and Calvin are so close to potentially taking home that mirror ball trophy. How do you plan to stay on top?
The thing about this show is, it's all about momentum. It's about going into the finals at your strongest. Calvin just got his first perfect score, so his momentum and peak is coming at such a good time. But we cannot lose that momentum. We have to continue to stay at the top of the leaderboard, stay strong every single night, come out with something new each time that wows people, and really take the night over.
Like last night, our performance was one of the crowd-pleasing moments, and that's what we have to do -- get people off their feet and get them to vote for us. Also, dedication and time. We usually fly to Detroit each week to be with Calvin's wife and Caleb, but he's sacrificing his time with them. He's staying in Los Angeles this week so we can get all the hours in as possible, which proves to me how much he really wants this. It's hard, but he's putting all of his time and energy into it.
Yes! Sasha and Emma recently got engaged [on DWTS], and we celebrated with an engagement party at Fig & Olive in West Hollywood. We all got together and had a night to just chill and relax after taping the show. It was really nice because we're together all the time, but we're mostly just working. We don't really get a chance to talk and just be normal people for a second, so it was really fun to celebrate their love and just have a good night with good friends!
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_!