One of the most anticipated television shows of the year, Dancing With The Stars, will be hitting the dance floor again next week for yet another exciting competition but with a new twist—an all-star cast. That’s right! This season will welcome 13 fan favorites and previous winners back to the stage to take the quick footwork and drool-worthy ensembles we love to the next level.
Among the cast is reigning champion, Peta Murgatroyd, who took home the Mirror Ball trophy as Donald Driver’s professional partner. We talked strategy with the Aussie-native, who hopes to continue her winning streak with Season eight’s runner-up, Gilles Marini. Here’s what she had to say about injury prevention, her secrets to looking fab and her favorite indulgence, cheese!
After being the first duo to be sent home Season 13 with Metta World Peace, how did you change your tactics for the win with Donald Driver?
I think that it’s always easier when you have somebody that is willing to learn and willing to put in the effort and the hours. I was devastated when I got out first because it was my first season. I wanted to come out and make a big bang as the new pro on the block but that didn’t really quite happen and I was crushed. I really think that Donald was so inspiring to have as a partner and he really wanted to win it. It’s just all about how you guys work together and the communication.
What have you been doing in preparation for another victory, this time with Gilles Marini?
One of the biggest things is respect for one another and I think [Gilles] has that. He’s an amazing person. He can definitely move well. I looked back on some of his old YouTube videos and he was really good. One of his major pros is that he can act so he’s great with getting into character and really sort of honing in on what the dance is about.
Gilles suffered from a separated shoulder during his season. How do you prevent injury?
Warm-up is key and cool-down is key. I can’t even start dancing until stretching first. I think that’s from the ballet background that I’ve had for 12 years. We didn’t take a step without making sure our feet were flexed and pointed and, you know, every muscle was warm. Also, because I’m so flexible with my body, I need to keep it strong and make sure that I do a lot of Pilates, for instance. I do a lot of that and strength training with weights. Read more
Last week on Dancing With the Stars, pro Peta Murgatroyd and her partner, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, aced their fox trot during the Motown challenge. The previous week, they were on the top of the leader board with their paso doble during rock week. It’s beginning to look like this is one of the pairs that will surely be tough to beat!
As they were preparing for the classical challenge tonight, we caught up with Murgatroyd to learn more about her partnership with Driver and what it really takes to pull together those impressive routines.
I predict the three couples in the finals will include… “Fingers crossed, Donald and I will make it! Katherine [Jenkins] has amazing skills and William [Levy] has the fan base. But there are a lot of great dancers this season who could surely go to the end!”
My favorite season so far… “I’ve only been on two, but when I was with Meta World Peace [nee Ron Artest], we were knocked out in the first round. Donald is dedicated, willing to put in the hours and is so kind. We’re working so hard for the mirrorball trophy and are planning to add better skills and harder choreography moving forward.”
To prepare for one show… “We dance at least six hours daily, and sometimes come back in the evening for more. Then Donald goes home to his family—he’s great at balancing it all!”
The cameras don’t catch… “Despite the strong competition, everyone becomes a big family. I’m really good friends with Katherine and Maks [Chmerkovskiy].”
My celebrity dream partner… “Justin Timberlake, Kellan Lutz or George Clooney.” [Editor's note: We're right there with Peta on these picks!]
The theme week I wish we would do… “I love R&B and hip-hop music and would love to dance to that on the show.”
To feel confident in my skimpy outfits… “I just tell myself to suck it up! It does help that I get to work with the designers who make the dress so they take my input into account.”
Now tell us: Which celebrities do you think will make the final cut on this season of DWTS?