It was mission accomplished for Aly Raisman on Dancing with the Stars last week: She impressed Carrie Ann Inaba. "I was really excited. I couldn't believe it. I honestly thought it might take a bit longer," Raisman tells TVGuide.com. "She actually told me on Tuesday that I did it better [during the encore] than I did on Monday." Of course, Inaba wasn't the only judge Raisman blew away. She and Mark Ballas earned a 27, the highest score of the season so far. So what's her goal for this week's side-by-side dancing?
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Congrats on the 27. That's got to feel good.
Aly Raisman: Thanks! Yeah, I did not expect that. Mark thought I could do it, but I just wanted to do a good dance. It's only the fourth week, so to be on top is great, but it's not over yet. I want to keep improving and peak at the right time.
When you were doing it and after you were done, were you thinking, "I nailed it!"?
Raisman: I just felt really good doing it. I felt in the moment and in character and I think I brought a lot of emotion out there. It felt good being able to describe through my dancing how intense it was to train for the Olympics. But I could feel good about it and the judges could not like it, so it was awesome that they did. And also, having Gabby [Douglas] and Kyla [Ross] there was amazing. Hopefully they can come again, and McKayla [Maroney] and Jordyn [Wieber] too. It meant a lot to me.
You need a Fierce Five reunion.
Raisman: I know. Well, we had one last season! [Laughs] Maybe later, hopefully.
How much confidence do the 27 and the comments give you going into this week?
Raisman: I feel definitely more confident with performing, but the samba is a whole new dance and it's really hard. I'm really not thinking about the score or being on top or anything. It's, like, all samba, all the time.
What's hard? The rolls?
Raisman: Yeah. This is, technique-wise, the hardest dance for me. There's a lot of bouncing, so you're bending and then straightening. You have to have the exact technique because Mark and I are side by side. On top that, we'll also be side by side with Witney [Carson] and Tony [Dovolani], so I can't really be off or out of sync. This has been the most difficult week so far, but it's coming along.
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Is Mark choreographing all of it or do Witney and Tony also have input?
Raisman: It's pretty much all Mark. We've only had a few hours with Witney and Tony. They've been giving me tips and stuff. I think it will be a fun dance. The dance itself is upbeat and the song we have is great. It's kind of like a huge dance party. I like that after last week when it was all intense.
Do you like this side-by-side dancing idea? It puts a lot of pressure on the celebrities to be up to par.
Raisman: Right. I think it's really difficult. I've been doing the samba for five days and I have to do it against professional dancers who've been doing this their whole lives. I've also only been dancing for two months. So that's like me doing a tumbling competition with someone who just started gymnastics two months ago. It's not the same level at all. I'm not sure how they're going to judge it or what their expectations are. I just know I have to really focus. But I'm excited because it's a challenge and I think it'll be fun to see all the routines and all the other pros back and performing. It's also helpful to have two more professionals there, especially a female pro.
Len [Goodman] teased you again last week. Why does he keep picking on you?
Raisman: I don't know! First, I was like, "What is he talking about?!" [Laughs] Then I realized he was joking. Who knows? Maybe because he knew I fell for it last time. But it's better than him being serious about not liking something.
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Lisa [Vanderpump] had some health issues last week. How are you holding up? I'm assuming, as an athlete, you know how to look after your body.
Raisman: Yeah, I'm OK. It's been tiring and I'm sore, but nothing major. I'm good so far. I felt bad for Lisa and I'm really sad that she left. I really like her a lot as a person. She's really classy and hilarious. And Giggy is so cute! The whole cast is planning to go to her restaurant one night. I'm not sure when yet, but it'll be fun, like a binge night to unwind.
So now that you've impressed Carrie Ann, what's next?
Raisman: Well, this week, I just want to do a good job with the samba. It's really hard for me — I'm not joking. I know I have to step it up and the samba's all about performance too, so I can't hold back. I'm going to go out and pretend like I'm dancing in my room.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
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