Entering week five, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was feeling discouraged following her week four performance.
“I’ve just never really felt that disconnected from an audience. I’ve never really felt this way ever,” Girardi told pro partner Gleb Savchenko during rehearsals.
“I think I should be performing better than I am. I think I’m capable of that. Maybe I’m just holding back. Doesn’t feel good,” she added.
During rehearsals, Girardi didn’t hold back and broke down in tears in the arms of Savchenko.
“Erika’s very frustrated with herself,” he explained to cameras. “We definitely need to do something different.”
For their week five performance, the couple chose the song “Unforgettable.”
“This is one of my favorite songs and one of my husband’s favorite songs and I remember driving late at night listening to this and him singing it to me,” she recalled. “The fact that I love this song and I enjoy dancing to it, you know, could be just what the doctor ordered as far as working through and being vulnerable in front of everyone. … It’s a pretty song.”
Savchenko added: “I believe in Erika. I think if she opens up and she trusts herself, she can really do a great performance.”
And Girardi was right. After performing her beautiful Viennese Waltz on Monday, the couple earned a solid 32/40 for their number — and rave reviews from the judges.
“It was an honest performance my darling,” said Bruno Tonioli.
“I saw you just open up,” added Carrie Ann Inaba. “Forget princesses — you were a queen.”
Said Len Goodman: “I loved the routine. … It was terrific. Well done.”
Added Julianne Hough: “I know it must be really hard to hear that you’re in jeopardy and then get out here and dance and so for you to come out here and give everything that you had, we felt that. … Your connection tonight was outstanding. It was beautiful.”
Speaking with host Erin Andrews after the performance, Girardi said she “had no choice” in her breakthrough dance.
“I was broken down and just had to pull it out. There it is,” she told her. “It feels wonderful. It’s very scary, obviously, it’s a scary moment.”
Unfortunately, Girardi’s week five dance was her last. After being announced as one of the two remaining couples in jeopardy — alongside Nick Viall and Peta Murgatroyd — the RHOBH star was sent home.
“It was incredible. I mean, I did have a breakthrough. I’ve had a wonderful time. Thank you all so much,” Girardi told Andrews and Tom Bergeron. “It was an incredible experience.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.