"Switch-up sort of felt like a vacation," says the Pretty Little Liars actress

By Janel Parrish
Updated October 20, 2014 08:30 AM
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Janel Parrish is best known for playing Mona Vanderwaal on the TV drama Pretty Little Liars. She’s been paired with pro Val Chmerkovskiy for season 19 of Dancing with the Stars, and she’ll be blogging for PEOPLE about her experience on the hit ABC show.

Dancing to a Jessie J song knowing that she would be a guest judge definitely put the pressure on last week!

I’m a huge fan and I wanted to make sure that we did that song justice. I think she was a little shocked seeing the song she wrote for her mom being taken in a racy way, but she seemed to really enjoy the dance.

I apologized to my dad after my dance because it was pretty sexy, but he’s totally fine. I warned my dad about the dance before he came and he still wanted to see it. He actually really liked it!

Artem Chigvintsev and I were actually really bummed about Julianne Hough and Carrie Ann Inaba‘s critiques, saying our dance wasn’t burlesque, because we thought that we were doing a true burlesque. I guess in a true burlesque it’s a lot more cheeky, a little bit more comedic, but we’ve never done burlesque on the show before and it’s never been done with a man. That kind of throws a wrench in the true burlesque when you do partnering. I think Artem did an amazing job with the choreography, and ultimately we were really happy with the way that it turned out. We were still really happy with 8s.

Watching Val perform with Lea Thompson last week, I was a little jealous, I’m not going to lie. But it also made me appreciate him a little bit more, just to step aside and watch him do his thing. I thought he did an amazing routine. It was very creative and just so wonderful. I was really proud of him.

I also really liked Bethany Mota and Mark Ballas‘s routine. I thought it was really fun and extremely creative.

It was a fun week to dance with somebody else, but I think we were all really happy to go back to our partners. It’s really nice to be back with Val. Switch-up sort of felt like a vacation, and then getting back together to do our routine is like getting back to work.

This week we are doing the samba, which so far is the hardest dance I’ve had to learn. It’s very technical and really, really fast. We’re learning a dance very quickly, so there’s really no time to learn the actual technique of the samba. I think that’s the hardest part – trying to learn the steps and trying to incorporate a whole new feel into it. The samba has a little bit of a bounce to it, so we’re trying really hard to work on that.

This dance is going to be a very traditional samba. Val and I were talking about how our routines so far have been a little bit more contemporary takes on some of the dances, maybe save for the rumba, but this is going to be a very traditional samba. We’re channeling some amazing Latin dances.

Tonight is going to be the hottest night of the week because we have Pitbull judging, and there’s going to be some really sexy dances!

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