"You go through moments where you feel like you have nothing left to give, and your energy is depleted," Bleu tells PEOPLE

By Corbin Bleu
November 25, 2013 11:20 AM

Corbin Bleu is a former High School Musical star, now competing on season 17 of Dancing with the Stars with season 13 champion Karina Smirnoff. This season, the Disney alum has been blogging for PEOPLE about his experience on ABC’s hit show.

At the beginning of rehearsing for this week, I was about to pull my hair out. I had no idea how we were going to get through it. We have five dances to do. So there’s so much press and everything, and the amount of interviews that I’m doing is cutting into rehearsal time. It’s craziness. It’s like finals in school. It’s hell week.

I expected the season to be a lot of hard work. Everyone warned me that it’s one of the most time consuming and physically and mentally draining processes to go through. But what you don’t realize is how much goes into it with production. You’re constantly debating back and forth with what song you’re going to dance to. Sometimes you’ll submit a song and they won’t necessarily let you choose that song. Then you have to rework the entire dance concept. Then you have to figure out lighting and costumes.

I think there’s a very diverse group of finalists. Bill [Engvall]’s definitely the heart. Everybody loves him because he works his butt off. He’s never danced before, so this is really incredible for him to be able to be here. And then you have Jack [Osbourne], who has gone from where he was at the beginning of the season to where he is now. It’s a complete 180. Amber [Riley] is a showman. When she gets out there, she’s got the facial expressions and the energy. It’s definitely a diverse group.

I’m just focusing on not messing up my own dances. I am not in control when it comes to what the final result is. All I can control is myself. We are working really hard to have an awesome freestyle. We have a samba, and I’ve never done samba. We have a repeat dance, which is our quickstep. That was one of the hardest dances for me. And we have an opening number and redoing another dance.

For our freestyle, production flew us out to Vegas so we could work with the Michael Jackson ONE Show Cirque performers. Our freestyle is Michael Jackson. We’re doing it to a very iconic Michael Jackson song. We have everything in there. We have some cool aerial stuff, little nods of the hat to other dance style performances and a bunch of signature Michael Jackson moves. It’s the year-end recital.

Once this is all over, regardless of the outcome, I now have a new skill under my belt. I can walk away from this saying I know all these ballroom styles. I’ve taken away a whole new group of friends. Everybody here has been a joy to work with. And I have Karina, who is definitely one of my new best friends. She’s been incredible. I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout this whole process. You go through moments where you feel like you have nothing left to give, and your energy is depleted.

This experience made me realize how much I’m an actor first. I love dancing. I will always love dancing, but throughout this entire process, the best way for me to get on the dance floor was to have a character and a storyline. For me, it’s all about the intention and motivation behind the dance.