Dancing's Karina Smirnoff: The Judges Hold Corbin to a Higher Standard
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff | Photo Credits: Adam Taylor/ABC
Only five contestants remain on Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars, and it's anybody's guess who will go home with the Mirrorball trophy. Only two of the semifinalists — Amber Riley and Corbin Bleu — have professional dance experience, but at this point in the competition, is that more of a hindrance or a help?
"[The judges] leave no room for error for us," Karina Smirnoff, who's partnered with Bleu, tells TVGuide.com.
With Leah Remini, Jack Osbourne and especially Bill Engvall emerging as fan favorites, what do Bleu and Riley have to do to keep themselves in the contest? Smirnoff spoke to TVGuide.com about the dramatic routines she and Bleu have planned for this week, as well as the return of Maksim Chmerkovskiy as a guest judge, and her newfound addiction to Game of Thrones.
Let's talk about your waltz from last week, which was very straightforward. Did you feel that the Game of Thrones theme for your Viennese waltz was a misfire?
Karina Smirnoff: With the Game of Thrones [dance], we learned that the judges don't particularly like thinking outside the box, and they would much rather prefer sticking to the traditional ideas. And coming to the quarterfinal week ... we decided that maybe we shouldn't risk it and do a traditional waltz the way waltz is expected to be done. With that said, we still went after the story, because for us, dancing is a physical expression. Like, you tell a story with your body language. We still did that with our waltz, but we definitely kept in mind that the judges would much rather prefer to see the traditional waltz over the Corbin and Karina version of the waltz.
Even though the judges didn't care for it, how did you guys feel about your Game of Thrones routine?
Smirnoff: It's still one of our favorite dances. . ... We love our Game of Thrones. I mean, he's still Khal Drogo and I'm still Khaleesi, and that's not going to change. But it is a competition and we want the good scores. ... So, once we're done with Dancing with the Stars, we can do another one of theGame of Thrones. But for now, we have our eye on that final and we are ready to work our butts off for it.
When you did the routine, you had said that Corbin was a big fan of the show but you were less familiar with it. Have you started watching?
Smirnoff: I have! It's scandalously brutal. When you watch some of the episodes, your jaw drops to the floor, because you're like, 'No way. they didn't just kill him.' The show is brilliant. I had seen little bits and pieces here and there before we did Game of Thrones, but after watching how excited Corbin was, I was like, you know what, it's definitely worth checking it out, because now I know the whole love story between Khal Drogo and Khaleesi. So I started. I'm into it. I just got to the [Red Wedding episode]. I think I had a nightmare afterwards. ... I can't wait for the next season to start. Thanks to Corbin.
For the trio dance last week, things seemed to get a little tense in rehearsals with you, Corbin and Witney. What was going on?
Smirnoff: The way the package was cut was definitely interesting to watch live on the big screen before you start dancing. But, you know, we can't control [that]. ... I knew what I wanted to do with idea, with staging and choreography, the concept and the way I wanted to go. So, we did all of that on Tuesday and then Witney came in on Wednesday and then all three of us finalized certain sections. ... That was something that we did together to create choreography that would really play up everyone's strengths.