The Mirrorball winner admits that choreographing a complicated partner routine on RuPaul's competition series was unlike any challenge she's ever faced

By Lanford Beard
Updated May 04, 2015 03:25 PM
Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

From the ballroom to the workroom, Kym Johnson is stopping by RuPaul’s Drag Race on Monday.

PEOPLE has an exclusive clip of the Dancing with the Stars pro and her good pal Carson Kressley (also a DWTS alum) as they prep Drag Race‘s remaining season 7 queens for an unusual challenge.

“It was definitely not your typical dance, it’s sort of a twist on your normal partner dance,” Johnson tells PEOPLE of the routines she customized to showcase the queens decked out as half-man/half-woman.

“I’d never done [anything like] that before,” the seasoned ballroom vet admits.

“I’m usually teaching a celebrity, and I’m the pro, so that, when you’re out on the dance floor, you know that at least one member of the partnership can sort of pull the other one through if they get lost,” Johnson says, “but when you have two people in the same situation, that makes it really nerve-racking because either one of them could mess up, and it’s hard to get it back.”

She continues that, when it came to the final performance, “I was watching, holding my breath, thinking, ‘Please, keep it together!’ But the ones that struggled a little bit more in rehearsals ended up, I think, pulling it off the best in the actual performance.”

Johnson, 38, adds that she was also impressed with the queens for designing their performances down to the very last sequin. The importance of an all-around production is something weighing on the ballroom pro’s mind as the DWTS season 20 finals near.

High stakes for call for low necklines, apparently, and Johnson teases that there might be less costume than usual for Monday’s routines – just not on the partner you’d expect.

“I think we may be taking a different approach for Robert,” she says of her plan for her Shark Tank star partner Robert Herjavec, who’ll join her for a contemporary routine and a samba trio. “We may be showing a bit more skin on him this time.”

Though the pair seems in danger of being voted out, Johnson’s maintaining a positive spin: “We’re not looking to fall down the leader board. We’ve only got one way to go, and that’s up.”

That said, making it to the final six with a man known more for his skills in the boardroom than in the ballroom is almost “unbelievable” to Johnson – and she credits a lot of that to her partner’s attitude.

“He’s got the best outlook,” she says. “He’s completely out of his comfort zone – he’s a businessman who’s been thrown into this, and he’s embraced it. So I think he has the spirit of the show. I’ve loved every single day of working with him.”

Though she is pleased when people notice their “effortless” chemistry (“It’s great that people can see that we really like dancing together”), Johnson insists the partners are focusing their eyes on the prize: “We’re working harder than we’ve ever worked before.”

Johnson can be seen on Monday’s Dancing with the Stars, airing at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, and on RuPaul’s Drag Race, which airs at 9 p.m. ET on Logo.

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