Janel Parrish is best known for playing Mona Vanderwaal on the TV drama Pretty Little Liars. She’s been paired with pro Val Chmerkovskiy for Season 19 of Dancing with the Stars, and she’ll be blogging for PEOPLE about her experience on the hit ABC show.
Last week’s contemporary dance definitely was my favorite dance. I thought the choreography was the most beautiful we’ve done so far, and I love Romeo and Juliet. I love the story behind it, and the song and just the message behind the song – that everybody’s free to love who they want to love. It’s an emotional song, and it allows you to express emotions through dance, so I loved every second of that.
With contemporary, you can really express your emotions through the dance, so I loved being able to perform that and feel that while dancing it. I got to act through it, and that’s what I love to do, so I got to combine acting with dancing. I obviously really love dancing with Val too, so it was a very special moment for us both.
Both of us did not expect to get 10s from the judges. I mean, we thought it was a beautiful dance, we loved dancing it, it felt great when we were doing it, but when we got 10s it was a huge shock, and it just made the whole night extremely special. Obviously winning immunity was huge for us as well, although I think Val was a little bummed because he definitely wanted to dance in the dance off!
This week we have two full dances, which has definitely been a challenge. Val and I have the quickstep, which was America’s choice. They got to choose everything we’re doing – the costumes, the end, how it begins. They voted that they wanted Val to bring the beard back, so he’s bringing back the beard! And they voted on our song, so we’re dancing to “Hey Boy, Hey Girl.”
I’m so happy with all their choices. It’s going to be really cute. At first, I was really worried about the quickstep, but now that we’ve started working on it, I think it’s going to be really fun. I can tell that my ballroom hold has gotten a little better since we started, so I’m a little less stressed out about it than I thought I was going to be at first.
The second dance is a trio, and we’re doing that with Keo Motsepe, so we’re calling it our “trio with Keo” and it’s going to be a salsa. We all have a trio and it’s up to us to decide how we go about that. We’ve decided on a really sexy kind of tribal salsa dance. It’s going to be really cool.
The quickstep is going to be really cute and fun and playful, so I’m looking forward to that since we haven’t had that in many dances, and the salsa’s going to be raw and sexy and kind of animalistic, and I’m looking forward to that as well.
I think from here on out, it’s going to be overwhelming each week because the workload is going to be heavier than it has been, and I think we’re all just trying to figure out a way to cram in as much rehearsal time as we can with the limited days that we have left.
Val’s been amazing. He has the exact same amount of workload that I do, if not more, because he’s the one who has to choreograph and teach me. He’s been keeping it really calm, which is the only reason why I’m calm because I look to him. He’s my leader, so when he’s strong – and he is – I feel strong. It’s been really good, and we’re having fun amid the crazy!