Edyta Sliwinska is by far my favorite professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars. She is amazingly talented, is gorgeous, to boot, and is the only pro who has appeared on every season of the show. Unfortunately, she and her original partner, Jeffrey Ross, were the very first couple to be eliminated the season, but these past two weeks, she has been back on the dance floor to fill in for Julianne Hough who was recovering from surgery.
Edyta Sliwinska graciously spoke to BuddyTV this week and shared with us her insider’s perspective on how difficult it is being on the show and why there are so many injuries this year. She also analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the four celebrities in the competition: Brooke Burke, Cody Linley, Lance Bass and Warren Sapp.
This is Debbie at BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Edyta Sliwinska, one of the professional dancers of Dancing with the Stars. So, I think that everyone was really sad to see that Julianne had to take a break after her surgery, but I think everyone was really happy that you were able to take her place. How difficult was it was it to jump right in and teach Cody?
Well, I must say that this was probably the most difficult two weeks that I’ve ever had on Dancing with the Stars. First of all, I came on at the moment of the competition when you have to start to do two dances in one week, so that was very, very hard for Cody to learn in such a short period of time. And another thing is that I obviously don’t know him, I don’t know how he works, I don’t know what kind of choreography works for him. So, as I mentioned, the limited time and all those obstacles made it really hard. But Cody is a great, great guy, and he really made it as easy for me as possible.
Great. And so, if they do go on to win, are you going to ask for a piece of the trophy?
You know what? Someone proposed that we should have three trophies, but to be honest with you, I think Julianne did most of the work. Remember that I danced with Cody only for two weeks, and she did not only for all the weeks in the competition before, but also, all the training before the show starts. She is his true partner, and I would just be happy to support them and enjoy it with them.
You mentioned that you didn’t know Cody and his style of learning. How difficult is it to develop a chemistry between partners? Because that’s so important in the performance as well.
You know, chemistry is something a little bit different because that refers, I would say, more to acting than anything else. Obviously, it’s easier if you know the person, if you like the person, if you understand the person, but you can just also be professional. If you are, and you know how to act certain emotions, you can create chemistry, just like two actors create chemistry in a scene. But that communication, as you train for that is extremely important, and that’s what we were definitely struggling with because we didn’t have time to establish it.
You know, I think everyone kind of figures that all the stars work really hard on the show, but after watching the segments with Dr. Drew this week, I kind of realized that maybe there’s a whole lot more going on underneath. Can you tell us about rehearsals and what kind of tensions might occur between the pros and the stars?
The tension comes from the fact that the further you go in the competition, the more tired you are. You’re not getting any days off. The pressure is incredible. You have to learn two dances and perform them in front of 20 million people. The time is very limited. even if two pros had to learn those two dances in a week. So, what’s happening is that people are tired. This is a very physically demanding thing, and it’s very easy to snap. We, as pros, we think that we know what we’re doing and we certainly have a lot of experience. There are always disagreements about how much we should practice. We try to push our celebrities as hard as possible. Celebrities sometimes have prior commitments, and they cannot put as much to it as we would like, so that’s very often a problem. And all sorts of things that come up just out of stress and fatigue that come with this really hard regime of training.
You know, this season seems like there are a lot more injuries, and the fatigue and all of that probably contributes to that too.
Absolutely. We push our stars so hard. You know, what you see on TV looks like we obviously have fun and looks like easy, but it’s so not easy. Every season, everyone wants to look better than the couples in the previous season, and that’s why maybe there are more injuries this season than there has ever been before. It’s hard.
Dancers often get injured because they’re always working so hard and performing all the time. Is the level of injuries that occurred this year unusual in the dance world?
I think it’s quite unusual because all those injuries occurred at the same time. But yes, you are right. Injuries always happen. You know, normally, however, we would take two, three weeks off to recover and then we go on. What’s different about this competition is that you cannot take any time off. You just have to go on, or, like Misty [May-Treanor], pull out completely. Those are the only two choices that you can have. And perhaps, also, what’s happening with some of the dancers on the show, like Karina [Smirnoff] and Kym [Johnson] – I’m lucky I didn’t get injured – is that we’ve been working really hard, not only on this season, but we’ve done a couple of seasons before, and don’t forget about the tour, without any major breaks. This summer, we had a little break, but really, we’ve been going on for two years without a minute to just stop and to let our bodies breathe and rest. So maybe all that came together, and that’s how all the injuries are happening.
Well, the tour is going to start soon, but I hope that you’ll get a break afterwards. Another thing that I am noticing that is a theme this year is with Len Goodman, the head judge. I feel that he’s kind of nitpicking a lot more, especially with Lance and Lacey [Schwimmer]. What’s your opinion on using more modern dance elements and doing non-traditional things that Lance and Lacey have been doing?
You know, I actually really like what they do and their personal style that they explore, and they should definitely go in that direction now. What Len is doing is… You know, he’s the only proper ballroom judge in this competition that had ballroom training and was a ballroom dancer. So, if he is not going to defend the traditional ballroom style, who will? And I think this is fine. This is great that we have variety on the show, that we have couples like Lance and Lacey that bring something new, and that we have couples like Brooke and Derek, who are probably more traditional. We have people with great personalities and charisma like Warren. That makes the show so exciting and, I think, successful. But Len has to defend the tradition because that’s all he’s about. Bruno and Carrie Ann are not going to do it, so I think that’s his job and I don’t see anything wrong about it.
And finally, my last question. I wanted to ask you what you thought, of the four teams that are remaining, what do you think are their strengths, and what do you think are the things they have to work on as they get into the semi-finals?
OK, Derek and Brooke, this is probably the best couple if we talk about the quality of dancing. I think Brooke has improved a lot and she’s amazing. Definitely, her strength is going to be the technique and basically, the quality of dancing that she brings. She’s probably the best dancer out there. Now, I just hope that people will not think that she doesn’t need support and stop voting for her. So she needs to make sure that she comes at the audience and let them know that she always will need the support because, as you know, actually, maybe last season, the best dancer won, but in all previous seasons, it has not been the best dancers that got the mirror ball trophy. So she needs to be careful with that.
And then we have Warren. I think that Warren needs to rehearse as much as possible because he’s very busy, but he needs to put more time into training and not rely only on his great personality and charisma, but also try to work a little bit more details on these dances. I think if he gets to the final and he becomes compared to Brooke, people will see more clearly that, yes, he has this amazing connection with the audience, but his technique lacks a lot.
And then we have Lance and Lacey. Well, here’s a couple that tries something new, that tries to explore different styles of dancing, and I actually think that is their strength. They are always exciting to watch. They are always full of surprises. They are always very entertaining. But Lance does have very poor footwork. He definitely needs to work on that. He definitely needs to work on polishing the way he moves. He picks up the steps and he has great rhythm, but he really needs to look at his technique.
And the last couple, we have Cody and Julianne. Here’s Cody with this great energy and he’s just all out there. But what Cody needs to work on, and I’m talking about my personal experience, is his focus. He’s very talented, and if he can only get himself to pay more attention to what Julianne is saying and to be able to stay focused on practice for more than an hour’s time, he can improve a lot. Otherwise, what’s happening is kind of like, he only learns the routine, and then he brings all this energy into it, so sometimes it comes across as a little spastic. But if he could learn the routine and to put more time to polish the details, to work on quality, I really think he has the potential to match the quality that Brooke Burke has. But normally, he just doesn’t have the time to do it because he’s so all over the place.
Well, he’s just 18.
He’s almost 19, and I know it’s really hard for him, I really do. And never blame him about it. It’s just his personality, but if he wants to win, he really needs to focus.
-Interview conducted by Debbie Chang
(Image courtesy of ABC)