Former Glee star Heather Morris is competing on season 24 of Dancing with the Stars — and blogging about her experience exclusively for PEOPLE. Follow Morris, 30, with pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, 37, on Twitter!
It’s hard to believe we are only two weeks into this wonderful adventure.
It seems like I’ve been working for months to break down everything I already knew about dance and ingraining a ballroom frame of mind: hips forward, shoulders back, pinky up, head looking so far over my shoulder I could basically see my left butt cheek … whoa.
I think I really have to make a choice this week. Do I really focus on my newly acquainted (mmm … more like shoddy) ballroom technique or do I just admit to the fact that I’m not a trained Viennese waltz/jive/tango dancer and that I’m going to just show the judges that I’m really good at being emotionally expressive? These are the two thoughts that consume my inner dialogue as I head towards Monday’s live performance — and I think I’m ready to own them fully.
Thinking back to last Monday’s show, it felt like a roller coaster ride to say the least.
If you didn’t hear through all the social media outlets within the last eight days, Maks had a fluke calf injury during our rehearsal just two days prior to performing the jive to Little Mix’s catchy new song “Grown.”
When the injury occurred, I wasn’t quite sure what happened. Maks just abruptly stopped dancing during a run through of our performance and limped away in pain, saying it felt as if my microphone pack had fallen off and smacked him in the leg. Of course my initial reaction was to drive him to the urgent care, but Maks quickly tossed that idea aside. He said, “It’s more serious than that. I need an MRI.”
The next day, everyone kept asking me if I was okay and how was I handling everything. But really? A grown man with a 10-week-old baby just had a serious injury that could potentially end his career, and they’re asking me about MY emotional state? No thank you.
I had no time for self pity at that point. I just wanted to make sure he was okay and I didn’t even consider worrying about myself.
I mean, yeah, my nerves had only just begun to calm down after learning this new style of dance in just three days — and now the producers are telling me I have to switch dance partners for Monday’s show … so maybe I was a bit nervous.
But looking on the bright side, it didn’t hurt that I had already gotten to know Maks’ replacement. He is a strapping young man named Alan Bernsten, who had been working over the last few weeks in our DWTS group rehearsals.
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Alan and I had already established a sort of quirky, fun kinship that I love, so the entire process went relatively smooth. (I can’t thank Alan and Maks enough for such an easy transition. They really set me up for success.) After a couple of extensive rehearsals, Alan and I were still showing a bit of jitters before the big performance. But that’s understandable, right?
We had rehearsed the routine numerous times and we both knew we were ready, we just needed to get it done. The performance went great in my eyes. So what if [head judge Len Goodman] didn’t love the hip-hop section? I did, Maks did, and the rest of the world did — and that’s all that matters to me.
During elimination, we found out we were saying goodbye to the one and only Chris Katan.
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I can tell you I am partial to him, and not just because he was, and still is a LEGEND on Saturday Night Live, but because of his overall, positive spirit — and maybe also his hysterical side comments he made throughout the everyday grind.
The second the cameras cut at the end of our live show, I told Alan that I was not cut out for this because my heart broke into a thousand pieces when I heard we would be saying goodbye to our beloved Chris. It took everything I had to muster the courage to say during our goodbyes.
“You shouldn’t be going home,” I told Chris — and I left it at that. I quickly felt like that was enough, or at least the “right” thing to say. I now rest assured knowing that it won’t be the last time we work together, and so, for now, I’m at ease.
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We found out we’ll be performing to Britney Spears‘ “Toxic” for this week’s Vegas theme, which has me a little bit thrilled and a little bit disappointed all at the same time. Haven’t I already done this? Isn’t this what my iconic character on Glee is based on? I’m here to show my fans — and the rest of the world — more about who Heather really is and, to me, this seems like a step back in time.
I called my sister to share my thoughts and she quickly assured me, saying, “Heather, so many of your fans will be so happy to see you perform this again!” Talking to her allowed me to understand that I have to set my ego aside and bring myself to this as much as I can because, without my fans, I would not be where I am today.
Going into tonight’s show, I’m tired — not only from our substantially lengthy group rehearsals we’ve had the entire weekend, but also because my family is in town and want to make sure I go get as much quality time spent with them as possible. So all I’ll say is DO NOT miss the opportunity to tune in to see me perform to Britney Spears’ “Toxic” tonight. I can guarantee you, Alan did one hell of a job choreographing it and we will NOT disappoint.
Vegas Week on Dancing with the Stars begins at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.