Craig Sjodin/ABC
Dahvi Shira
October 16, 2012 07:10 AM

Paula Abdul called Shawn Johnson a “sexy young lady,” following her near-perfect mambo on Dancing with the Stars Monday night – and the athlete’s partner Derek Hough could not agree more.

“My goal when I first got Shawn as a partner was to take her from a young girl, sweet and innocent, to a mature woman – sexy,” Hough, 27, told reporters backstage after their performance. “And to get those comments from the judges made me feel great.”

As for Johnson, 20 – who says she “felt good” completing the hot number – she explains to PEOPLE why she kept things conservative on the show up until now.

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“The first time around, being 17 and being younger, I was shy to everything that didn’t have to do with gymnastics,” she says. “I was like, ‘There’s no way you can get me to [dress sexy].’ [Derek]’s been trying to get this out of me since the season started.”

And from the way it sounds, this isn’t the last people will see of Johnson’s new side.

Hough says his partner’s costumes will get sexier as soon as “next week.”

Johnson’s response? “Bring it on!”

Says Hough with a laugh, “I’m desensitizing her a little bit. I’m saying things during rehearsal where she’s just like, ‘What?’ I think she was shocked sometimes but now she’s like, ‘Eh, nothing shocks me anymore.’ ”

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