The former O.C. actress blogs exclusively for PEOPLE
When I first found out that I was going to be on DWTS and working with Artem, I was really excited. But I was also really unsure about how things would go.
Like any new working relationship, you never know if your personalities are going to clash or what the teacher-student relationship is to work. And I won’t lie, in the beginning things went very slowly and I’ve had a bit of a rough ride.
I’d gone to ballet classes when I was growing up, but all of a sudden I was working with a professional dancer who is an expert at all types of dance. Artem would show me a sequence and expect me to pick it up, but all I could do was start laughing because it was so overwhelming.
But Artem didn’t let up or take it easy on me, and I appreciate that. He can be tough and strict, but he’s never mean. I don’t mind that he’s a little hard on me because I know that means he’s taking this seriously just like I am. It’s nice to work with someone who is as committed to their career as I am.
But I also have to keep reminding myself that we can’t work ourselves too hard. We have really long days in the rehearsal studio, and I’ve had to work on taking more breaks because I’ll realize I haven’t eaten all day and I’m getting moody and hangry because of it.
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It’s important to take care of our bodies because this is a bit like a marathon. I want to be around in the competition for a long time, so I can’t burn out.
I’ve already hurt my neck and back, but I’m making sure I keep practicing yoga because stretching is so important. And I’ve notices a difference already in my body! I don’t think I’ve lost weight, but I can feel my body opening up and I just feel more in tune with my muscles.
For the first live show, we are dancing a sexy, fierce tango. The dance is tricky, but I have had a lot of fun helping put it all together.
I think Artem was surprised by how involved I wanted to be in the planning process. I showed up with storyboards, costume ideas and videos of tangos that I really have enjoyed. I love being hands-on.
I have to admit, I’m a little terrified to step out in front of that live audience for the first time tonight. I’ve done stage productions before, but this is so much more stressful. There is so little time to rehearse on the actual ballroom floor.
Artem tells me that he’s had partners who are great in rehearsal and then get on stage and have no idea what is going on. Going into tonight, I just have to have faith that we’ve worked hard enough and hope for the best!
Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.