By Parade Magazine
Van Amstel talked to Parade.com about getting inspiration from Saturday Night Fever for tonight's routine, which eliminations surprised him most so far, and what makes a DWTS celebrity easy to work with.
On his and Sabrina's new strategy.
We have changed our tune a little bit. We got a message from Carrie Ann [Inaba] and the other judges. They complimented Sabrina on her technique and dancing, but somehow they're not looking for dancing on a dance show. Carrie Ann said, 'You're playing it safe.' We were not playing it safe, we were trying to stay within the rules. To me, that's being respectful, but somehow being respectful was not appreciated. Having said that, it lights a fire, and it made us change some of our thinking. So in the end, I'm thankful. It's like Christina Aguilera's "Stronger," about thanking her ex-boyfriend for how he cheated on her because it made her a stronger woman.
On tackling the disco tonight.
We're going for what a disco represents—a lot of fun and making sure we're having a good time. I actually went and did research, and I was in for a lovely surprise that a lot of hip hop and jazz heritage comes from that era. I also looked at Saturday Night Fever, and I was surprised that the dance level has changed tremendously over the last 40 years. If I would literally do what John Travolta did then, it would not come across the same. So it's kind of interesting how you have to kind of edit the iconic moves to make it interesting in 2012.
On their disco outfits.
We're so close to Halloween, and with disco outfits, you can so quickly go costumey. We didn't want to make a parody or make fun of disco, so we're still going classy. We're trying to really make a contribution rather than walking out in something over-the-top or cliche.
Did the right contestants go home last week? Vote!
On which eliminations were the most surprising.
Joey Fatone and Helio [Castroneves]. Even Drew [Lachey]. It was surprising because they were champions in their season and they had the likability factor, and of top of that, they can dance. It shows that it's not just about the dancing. It's about the fan base, people voting, and there's a competition within the competition. You can dance your heart out, but that is not enough. It's a shame, but at the same time, it's the name of the game.
On losing the top spot on the leaderboard.
We knew upfront that being in the top of the leaderboard is just a one-day feeling, because the next week, it's a clean slate. Everybody is back at square one, and everybody has the same opportunity again to be on top of the leaderboard. We knew that it could change the following week, and it did. The surprise didn't come out of nowhere. The nerves, though, are more, because if you end up in the middle of the pack, it is scary. But we're here and we're not sitting still.
On their biggest competition.
From a dancing point of view, you can say Gilles [Marini], Shawn [Johnson], and Melissa [Rycroft], but then again, don't count out Kirstie [Alley] and Bristol [Palin's] fan bases, because they have been on the bottom of the leaderboard. Kirstie was in jeopardy last week but Bristol hasn't even been in the bottom two once. Emmitt Smith has a great fan base, he's a phenomenal guy, and he has the moves. It just goes to show you that everybody is our competition.
On working with Sabrina and what makes a great partner.
She picks things up really fast because she's already trained. She never takes anything for granted. She does not put herself on a pedestal. She is really very down-to-earth, the girl next door who happens to be very pretty and humble. I've had the most amazing partners. Kelly Osbourne was the most memorable journey ever on Dancing with the Stars, just to see her growth. Niecy Nash, Margaret Cho, Lisa Rinna, Priscilla Presley—they have all been amazing women. But if I have a reality star celebrity, they try to manipulate the competition because they come from reality. Sometimes is that those people come across brilliantly and the people at home pretty much are being fooled. With Sabrina, what you see is what you get. That's so refreshing in a world like Hollywood.
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