Inside Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten's 'DWTS' Country Night Rehearsals (Exclusive)
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For Alexis Ren and her pro partner, Alan Bersten, gearing up for Dancing With the Stars' Country Night has been fraught with difficulties, from having to perform a challenging dance to their total unfamiliarity with country music -- and that's all before you even get to Ren's painful, cracked rib.
However, the cheerful duo isn't letting anything keep them from hitting the floor and giving it their all. ET's Katie Krause joined them during their rehearsals on Thursday, and the couple dished on their upcoming routine, the obstacles they've faced and persistent questions about the nature of their relationship.
When the pair takes to the DWTS stage on Monday, they'll be wowing the audience with a samba, set to a live performance from country songstress Lauren Alaina, who will be singing her recent single, "Ladies in the ‘90s."
The experience is particularly exciting for Bersten, who's never danced as part of a live performance on the show. But he's also looking forward to getting into their country-themed costumes, which he said are going to be less traditional deep South country and "more modern country, like popstar country."
"I am going to go with the cowboy hat just cause I love a good excuse to wear a cowboy hat," he added.
However, the rehearsal hasn't exactly been a cake walk for Ren, who suffered a cracked rib before last week's Halloween Night performance, where she and Bersten still managed to score an impressive 27 out of 30.
According to the 21-year-old Instagram star, the injury is certainly making things much harder for her, but she's got no choice but to just power through.
"It kind of sucks, but it's fine, I have just been icing it every night and stretching it and doing what I can," she shared. "There is nothing you can really do for a fractured rib other than just bear through it."
For Bersten, Ren's injury has also had a real impact on his choreography for the routine.
"I have been doing a much more conscious job of making sure that we don't do anything that could affect the rib," the 24-year-old dancer shared. "Not many big bends to the left, cause that's where it hurts, and no tricks. But we can't really do tricks in samba anyways."
Another challenge the couple is facing next week is the Team Dance, in which the eight remaining pairs are divided into two teams for a large group number. Ren and Bersten, who are members of #TeamJoeDown, will be performing to “Country Girl” by Luke Bryan.
Ren and Bersten are collaborating with Juan Pablo di Pace and his partner, Cheryl Burke, along with DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold. Additionally, "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile and Jenna Johnson will be rounding out their ranks.
According to Bersten, the costumes for the big number are going to be "epic," and for that dance, Ren will be rocking some serious Western wear.
"I'm wearing cowgirl boots," she teased. "I tried them on and they're cool."
"There might also be flannel involved," Bersten hinted.
While the pair have been turning out particularly fun and exciting performances week-after-week, one thing that's caught fans' interest is the burgeoning showmance that been developing between the pair behind the scenes.
While they've both been hesitant to address head-on whether or not they have feelings for one another, or if they're dating, both Ren and Bersten admit that they've felt pleasantly surprised and supported by those interesting in their romantic connection.
"It's like a private matter, but you know, it's nice. It's encouraging to see that people want to see us together," Bersten said. "That's cute."
It's sweet. It's really nice to see people love us," Ren said, adding that the attention does still feel "really weird."
"I usually try to keep my personal life pretty private," Bersten shared. "But man, it's flattering to see."
It's not hard to understand how romances can form under the conditions that stars and pros find themselves in during a season of DWTS. After all, they spend nearly all day everyday rehearsing intimate routines in close quarters.
However, that closeness has also allowed them to learn a lot about each other. According to Bersten, the most interesting thing he's learned about him and Ren is how quickly the frustration can come, and then go.
"[It's interesting] how easily we get frustrated at each other, but then how easily it's like, 'OK, it is not that big of a deal," he explained.
"Like, we are going to strangle each other's neck and then we are laughing the next five minutes," Ren added. "It's up and down, up and down, because we both care so much."
Check out Ren and Bersten's Country Night samba and their big Team Dance when Dancing With the Stars returns Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
The pair also played a fun game where they revealed all sorts of cute and revealing facts about themselves, including their dream date nights. Check out the video below.
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