Q&A With Melissa Rycroft of 'Dancing With the Stars'
All-star contestant on double-elimination week and who she thinks is the team to beat
By Lie Shia Ong
Melisa Rycroft first competed on “Dancing With the Stars” during the show’s eighth season, placing third overall. Now back with her original dance partner, Tony Dovolani, the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and reality TV contestant (she was on “The Bachelor”) says she hopes they can go all the way and bring home the mirror-ball trophy as the champions of this season’s “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars.”
MSN TV spoke with Rycroft about what’s ahead for her and Tony as they head into a double-elimination week.
MSN TV: You’re going into the third week of competition. What do you think the most challenging element will be for the week ahead?
Melissa Rycroft: I think it’s just going to be reinventing ourselves. The competition started as such a high level, and now we have a double elimination, and after, I think I can say, the shocking elimination last week, we’re all on our toes. You never know what can happen. I think we spent extra time in the studio yesterday just trying to put everything we can into this Week 3 routine to make it to Week 4.
Knowing there’s going to be a double elimination next week, does that change the way you prepare for Monday’s dance at all?
Definitely. None of us actually knew that this double elimination was going to be this soon. We knew there was going to be one later this season. So when we heard it was next week, we all kind of panicked up in the red room going, "Oh my gosh. It’s next week! Did we pick the right song? Do we have the right dance now?" Again, I think what we saw last week is how big the audience impact is on the show because the bottom two of the night were not the bottom two on the leaderboard, so you’re going in with that in the back of your mind, going, "I need my dance scores to be high enough to compensate for any audience vote." It’s intimidating going into a double-elimination week.
What dance are you and Tony working on for this week?
Tony and I are going to be doing the samba, which is a fun one.
This week we saw Len and Bruno had a little bit of a heated debate over your jive, and Carrie Ann sort of stayed out of the discussion. What did you and Tony think about their comments?
I love the fact that Len was defending us. He was on our side, and usually it’s kind of Carrie Ann and Bruno against Len, and this time Len had a comment that Bruno disagreed with, and we wanted to stay out of it, but at the same time we also thought it was a little flattering that of all the judges up there, Len was the one defending us.
You also mentioned that all of you were very surprised that Joey and Kym were eliminated. What was the reaction among the other contestants right after that happened?
Every elimination from here on out is going to be tough because you really look around going, "I don’t know who’s going to go." You look at people like Sabrina and Shawn, and their scores are probably going to be up at the top of the leaderboard every week, and then you look at people like Bristol and Kirstie, and their fan votes are probably going to be at the top every week. You never know where you’re going to factor into that equation. Everyone was shocked because this is the first elimination where the bottom two were not in the bottom two. I think we all just were like, "OK, I guess we move on. Here we go!"
Has it been more difficult competing for a second time or a little easier because you know what to sort of expect?
It’s been harder. My body was not moving the same way. It’s not really reacting the same way. I’m not much older. It’s just three years, but my body’s changed a lot in those three years. But in terms of handling practice and handling the pressure it’s definitely easier this time around. Tony and I are just kind of more relaxed and we know the process. We know on Wednesdays I’m not going to know the dance perfectly, so you go in Thursday and you finish learning the technique. … You understand the process and you don’t stress out or freak out quite as much as we did in Season 8.
Now, last time you were competing, you weren’t a mom yet. Is it hard taking care of a young daughter and finding time to practice for the show?
Definitely harder than I thought it was going to be. On paper I thought I had it all planned out — everything figured out, but it’s hard because when I’m at practice I’m constantly worried about her. Did she eat OK? Is she taking a nap? Is she having a bad day? And when I’m home with her, I’m constantly trying to go over my dance routine that I just learned in practice. It’s hard, but ultimately she’s my number one priority and [my husband] Tye is the number one priority, and Tony understands that, and so far we haven’t had to cut into practice time or anything like that. It’s just learning how to juggle and balance and knowing that sometimes it’s OK to make time for yourself when it benefits the family.
One of your fans, Shelly, Facebooked in this question to ask you: Any plans for a Season 2 of “Melissa & Tye”?
Right now no. That doesn’t mean there won’t be one ever. We filmed that earlier this year and we just kind of got busy with other projects going on. We’ve now moved back to Dallas. If the timing comes up again to film, then absolutely, but as of now we’re not.
I have to ask you about your thoughts about another ABC show since you competed on “The Bachelor” yourself. What do you think about Sean Lowe getting cast as the new bachelor?
I knew Sean, oddly, like five or six years ago because he was dating one of the girls I was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader with. I remember thinking he was so nice, and when I saw him on “The Bachelorette,” I went, "Oh my gosh! What a small world we live in that I actually know this guy!" I have to say I haven’t talked to him in a while, but what I did know of him he was a great guy. Really nice. All the girls had crushes on him. I think it’s a great opportunity for him. I hope he finds love. If he doesn’t, I hope he finds something else that’s just as good too.
If you had to pick a couple to win “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars,” who would it be?
Me [and Tony]! [Laughs] Hello?! You know what, this is going to be a hard battle for everyone this season. Dance-wise I think right off the bat Sabrina and Louis have obviously proved that they’re a powerhouse and they’re going to be tough to beat, and the same with Shawn and Derek. Then you have the charisma of people like Emmitt Smith and Gilles Marini. All you can do is go week to week going, "I hope I’m in the mix. I hope I’m enough." It’s going to be tough to beat them, but it’s my goal to make it to the finals. So we’ll see.
“Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” airs Monday and Tuesday nights on ABC.