Carrie Ann Inaba Says She 'Helped Push' Kaitlyn Bristowe to Be 'Extra Amazing' on DWTS
Kaitlyn Bristowe received a standing ovation from the DWTS judge and received her first perfect score for her Britney Spears-inspired tango
Following Monday night's episode of the ABC dance competition series, the 52-year-old judge discussed the role she believes she played in helping the former Bachelorette, 35, and her pro partner, Artem Chigvintsev, improve their dance routine — after Bristowe received what she described as "soul-crushing" critiques from the judge two episodes prior.
"I am beyond happy for them, because truthfully — they want to win," Inaba told Entertainment Tonight on Monday. "Tonight, she stepped up."
"I'm just happy that tonight she delivered an incredible dance, and I don't want to take much credit for it, but I do think I may have helped push them to make sure that they were going to be extra amazing," she continued.
Inaba added, "I think that I push everybody to be their best, because if you join Dancing with the Stars, you're putting a lot out there, you're risking a lot. I believe everybody wants to win, so my job as a judge is to encourage you to be your best."
During Monday's Icons Night on DWTS, Bristowe channeled Britney Spears, performing an Argentine tango to Spears' hit song, "Toxic" with Chigvintsev, 38.
Bristowe earned a perfect score for the choreographed number, which Inaba called "amazing," after she, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough all awarded the pair with 10s across the board for their dance. Inaba even gave Bristowe and Chigvintsev a standing ovation.
"We push you because we want you to reach your ultimate," Inaba said during the broadcast. "Tonight, I mean every line was amazing. Every lift, Artem, when she landed, her foot was like perfect and you never, not even like a centimeter of smudging or anything. Everything about it was amazing."
She added, "Your lines, elegant, passionate. Everything that we've been wanting from you was in this routine."
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Inaba's praise comes after Bristowe and Chigvintsev received some rather harsh criticism during week seven from Inaba, who told Bristowe that she felt the star "gave up" during her performance.
"What's so hard is, you are a good dancer, and I saw you trying really hard tonight. The things that didn't go well for you was the lift, number one. Number two, you are not resisting enough," Inaba said at the time, per ET. "I think it's because of your flexibility, sometimes you don't hold your shape strong because the elbows give out so work on that."
"Also, it felt like at moments you gave up. You had a moment of chaos there and I saw it in your eyes, and I felt like your spirit dropped," she added. "I don't want to discourage you because I do think you are a fantastic dancer but this was another not-great dance of yours and I apologize."
Speaking to PEOPLE after the show, Bristowe said that Inaba's comments were "soul-crushing" and that she truly gave the dance her all.
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After receiving positive comments from Inaba on Icons Night, DWTS host Tyra Banks asked Bristowe what it felt like to hear the uplifting words.
"I always felt like that's where it was coming from, even if it was hard to hear, I always knew it came from that place. So to hear that we worked so hard and we got what we wanted from all of you, thank you," Bristowe said.
Upon being awarded a 30/30 from the judges, Bristowe, who will compete in next week's semifinals, excitedly said: "I'm so happy!"
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.