EXCLUSIVE: Lindsay Arnold Gushes Over Calvin Johnson's 'Total Redemption' Dance and the Remaining 'DWTS' Conte
By Desiree Murphy
Lindsay Arnold and Calvin Johnson are officially one step closer to taking home a mirror ball trophy!
After it was revealed that the Dancing With the Stars duo would be advancing to the season 23 finals during Monday night's show, ET caught up with the 22-year-old dancer, where she couldn't stop raving over their impressive accomplishment.
Arnold and the former Detroit Lions wide receiver landed in jeopardy during the semi-finals, along with Terra Jole and Sasha Farber, who were eliminated. "Calvin and I were in straight panic mode," Arnold explained. "We were so close to not being there, and that's terrifying. It's so scary, especially because that happened to me last season. Wanya Morris and I were in the semi-finals and we ended up going home. I definitely didn't want that to happen again."
"Calvin was so nervous, he thought for sure we were going home. He was like, 'I have a feeling we're going home.' I'm like, 'Don't say that! Have faith. It will all be OK,'" she added. "After we got our results, he was so happy, like, 'Wow, I'm in the finals of Dancing With the Stars.' Going into week one of the show, he never expected to come this far. He's really proud of himself."
Although Calvin and Lindsay were "extremely relieved" to make it to the next round of the competition, the Utah native told ET they were still "heartbroken" after hearing the results.
"It was tough, because in that moment we were happy, but also bummed for our friends Sasha [Farber] and Terra [Jole,]" she added. "They have worked so hard and did such a great job last night."
Hear more from our exclusive chat with Arnold below!
ET: Let's talk about your amazing salsa trio with Calvin and fellow dance pro Witney Carson. Just amazing! What was it like having your BFF in rehearsals? Was there ever a moment where you weren't laughing?
Lindsay Arnold: That was one of the funnest routines to create! With Calvin, we were able to do things we have never done before. That was so cool for us as pros.
We'd die laughing, being silly and doing crazy things, but we'd walk away from rehearsals and be like, “Wow, we got so much done today.” What people didn't see on camera is that, us being in Detroit [where Calvin lives], we didn't have a lot of rehearsal time with Witney.
Unfortunately, we've seen plenty of injuries this season -- Sharna Burgess and Gleb Savchenko hurting their knees, Jana Kramer suffering from a sprained muscle in her rib cage -- were you at all nervous to experiment those insane lifts with Calvin?
I was SO nervous. I mean, it's terrifying to try something you've never done before, especially with a celebrity who is not a trained dancer. But I've learned to trust Calvin so much and know that he's going to perform and pull out anything that I ask of him. I really appreciate that, because it's enabled us to do some really cool things that I don't think I'd ever be able to do if I had a different partner.
You and Megatron had the tango for your first dance of the night. It was the first time the fans and judges witnessed a noticeable slip up between the two of you. What exactly happened?
After it happened, neither one of us were quite sure what happened, something just felt off. When I watched it back, it looked like I kind of slipped going into the run around, and then also, we were only supposed to do half of the amount of spins we did. Calvin kept going into an extra spin, and I had slipped and couldn't keep up with him. So, yeah, it was so weird, because this had never happened -- we never had a mess up like that onstage. But you know what? It happens!
The best thing is, he got right back into it.
Last week, the same thing happened with James Hinchcliffe and Jenna Johnson, who was filling in for Sharna, but the judges didn't seem to be as hard on them as they were on you. How was Calvin feeling after hearing the judges' remarks?
I don't think the judges gave Calvin enough credit on that. Yes, it was a clear mess up, but he continued the routine and didn't show it on his face at all. To me, that is deserving of a great score, because you see the professionalism in him knowing that mistakes are going to happen, but how you bounce back from that is what matters.
Calvin was really frustrated, and I was pretty vocal about it. Like you said, there have been times where other celebrities have made mistakes, and the light wasn't shined on it as much as it was with Calvin last night. I thought that 8 [from Carrie Ann Inaba] was extremely low considering how great his performance was -- he didn't dance badly, he had a simple mistake. It certainly wasn't intentional, and it made Calvin feel like he completely messed it up for us, which he did not.
You've always said that Calvin is so hard on himself because he's a perfectionist. But just like with football, he let it go and came back stronger than ever for the trio dance!
Ah, I was so proud of him for that! He completely erased that moment from his mind, got in the zone and NAILED IT. He had a total redemption with that dance. Honestly, at the end of the night, I completely forgot about the tango. I was just so happy with how well he performed the salsa. I just hope fans remember how much fun Calvin brought to the stage.
Well, that's hard, ha! I'm still figuring that out as we speak…
There was a lot of emotion and tears last night, and I thought Calvin brought the party and reminded everyone why they love him. He truly is such a ray of light in this competition. And I really, really want to showcase how much he's improved as a dancer.
We obviously can't come out and do stuff we've already done before. We have to come up with new tricks, new lifts, new moves, new set pieces that people have never seen before. That's exactly what I plan to do -- to push the boundaries and show people something they haven't seen on the show.
Lastly, since the competition is heating up, I'd love to get your opinions on the remaining contestants and pros. What superlatives would you give each of them. Let's start with Calvin!
Calvin, to me, I would say he's the most determined and most improved.
Jana, I think she is the fighter this season. I think she's had to showcase some real emotions in almost every routine she does. She's fought not only the dance process, but the emotional process of the show.
When I think of Gleb, I just think hot factor. He brings the hotness and the chemistry between him and Jana. So maybe the chemistry man?
James is hard, because he's a lot of things. Dance wise I think that he's shown the most natural ability. He's made it look like it's his own. He makes every routine look like it's something he's done for 15 years! It's crazy, because he hasn't.
Sharna, to me, is the most creative. She has done so many incredible things with James this season, and has really pushed the boundaries. That's what I love to do as a choreographer, so I really look up to her in that sense.
Laurie is another hard one because she's just incredible. There's so many things you can say about her, but I think she's the most mature. Sometimes I think we forget she's only 16 years old, and she's going through this insane competition.
I think Val is the softie this season. He's really shown a different, emotional side to him. I mean, we've even seen some tears from him, which is very out of his element. We've seen him be very delicate with Laurie, and really treat her like a younger sister.
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_!