This week on Dancing With the Stars, Ryan Lochte and his partner, Cheryl Burke, will heat up the dance floor for Latin Night. In his blog for Yahoo TV, Lochte talks about his spicy hot Week 6 dance, last week’s tearjerky tribute to his mom, and why he is definitely not ready to go home.
This week we’re doing a salsa. And man, I gotta tell you, I thought the other dances were hard, but phew! Salsa’s got me going. It is really hard.
The music is really fast, so that automatically gets you kind of flustered in your head because you want to try to dance on the beat. And then you have to know your steps, and you have to move your hips, and you have to move your arms a certain way, and you’re swinging your head. So it’s like five different things going on at once, and then trying to keep up with the tempo, so it is just … frustrating! I think this is the hardest dance I’ve had to do.
Quickstep was hard because you’re moving so fast, but before going into this competition I thought the salsa would be really hard for me, and I was right. I’m getting better as the days go on, but I’m missing almost a day-and-a-half of rehearsal this week because I’m going to a wedding, so it’s gonna be rough. I’m really hoping that at today’s rehearsal I’m just 100 percent focused, geared in, so then Saturday at the wedding maybe I can even practice. Hopefully Kayla, my fiancée, will help me. I’ll just tell them to put salsa on! And I can foxtrot, I’ll quickstep, I can cha-cha…
It was hard to put myself out there with my contemporary dance last week, but I was so confident with the steps and everything that all I really had to do was get into that emotional state. I think that’s been my biggest thing these past few dances, just being in that emotional place, playing that character that you’re supposed to be for that dance, and I really was into it last week. I was just imagining that I was with my mom and everything we’ve been through, and how many times I’ve failed throughout my swimming career and having her there for me, picking me up, supporting me. So I really had to visualize that during my dance routine.
It’s hard because I’m still getting some stuff happening from Rio every once in a blue moon, and it’s just hard being so vulnerable on the dance floor and not being in my natural surroundings. It’s hard putting myself out there and putting on a pair of dancing shoes instead of a swimsuit, because this is kind of like my second chance and I don’t want to blow it. So I have a lot of pressure in that sense because in every dance I want to prove to everyone that I’m not what people perceive me as. And that’s why last week’s dance was so important, because it was deep and emotional and sensitive, and that’s me.
I don’t think my mom has been able to say anything since my dance last week — she’s still crying! She has just been so proud and happy and she knows how hard this is for me, and she’s just amazed that little by little I’m becoming a dancer.
Watching everyone’s Most Memorable Year package, I got emotional because I understand being in that emotional state and having that memorable moment be so much a part of them. Every dance I was moved. I was getting teary-eyed with everyone’s package just because I’ve put myself in their position and I know how it feels. It was just so emotional, but it was amazing. That was probably my favorite week.
Cheryl and I have been on the bottom for this whole competition, but now it’s on. Yes, the scores have something to do with it, but I think it’s about the process — about taking a nondancer and making him better. I think people want to see how far I can go. My fans are incredible and they keep voting for me, which is amazing.
Cheryl has done a lot for me. She hasn’t just taught me how to dance; she actually picked me up when I was at the darkest point of my life. She gave me a sense that there is a light, to be positive, to keep fighting. And she has been really positive and a great friend throughout this whole journey. She’s awesome.
And Kayla has been so supportive. She seriously has been my rock. I would not get through anything without her. She has been so positive, and every day it’s just positivity, showing love — it’s amazing how caring and loving she has been over the past couple of months. I told her I wanted to propose to her before December. This was before I went to the Olympics, so we knew it was going to happen before December, and then it was just the right timing. Her family was in town, my family was in town, and I wanted to have an engagement celebration, so it was perfect timing.
I don’t want to go home yet, because not only am I surrounded by so many positive people, but the Dancing With the Stars team is like my family. They’ve opened up their arms to me and this whole thing has just been amazing. I’m trying so hard to just keep on the show, because it’s been a life-changing thing for me.
All the fans and my friends and family that have really stuck by me through the bad and good times, I love you guys so much. I really appreciate all the support and positivity you have shown me. So keep voting, because I’m gonna dance my heart out and try to give you the best show I can. (As told to Victoria Leigh Miller)
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of DWTS on Yahoo View.
Ryan Lochte is a competitive swimmer and 12-time Olympic medalist. He is currently competing on the 23rd season of Dancing With the Stars.