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This ‘Dancing With the Stars’ more intense for Kelly Monaco

Kelly Monaco says she partner Val Chmerkovskiy (pictured during their fiery paso doble Oct. 8) are facing their greatest challenge

Kelly Monaco says she and partner Val Chmerkovskiy (pictured during their fiery paso doble on Oct. 8) are facing their greatest challenge with their “contemporary dance” routine they must perform Monday night on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.”

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7 p.m, ABC-Chicago, Channel 7

Updated: November 16, 2012 6:13AM

Kelly Monaco is taking nothing for granted in her return trip to the “Dancing with the Stars” ballroom. “I have never worked so hard in my entire life,” says the 36-year-old actress/model and season one champ. The “General Hospital”star is partnered with Val Chmerkovskiy as the competition (and elimination) continues on the “All Stars” edition of the hit ABC reality show.

We caught up with Monaco on the phone as she drove to the rehearsal studio for “another grueling night” of learning her routine for the “contemporary dance” that she and Chmerkovskiy will perform Monday night.


Was it a difficult decision to return to “Dancing with the Stars”?

A. That never crossed my mind. The first time around was so awesome that I knew I just couldn’t pass it up when they asked me to come back for the “All Stars.”.

Q. What was the biggest change you noticed about the show?

A. As a contestant, all the same rules apply, the same discipline applies. Mentally, emotionally it was the same. The only real difference is the whole production is bigger, so much grander in scale.

Q. The costumes are light years beyond what you wore in season one.

A. The big difference is that now people in America know what ballroom dancing is. When I did it the first time, I had no idea and America had no idea what ballroom dance costumes looked like. They were foreign to most of us outside the ballroom world. The costumes are so intricate and so functional. I relied heavily on my partner, Alec [Mazo, from season one], to guide me about what I should and shouldn’t be wearing. This time around I have a good idea about what will and won’t work. I have much more creative input.

Q. You haven’t succumbed to the show’s spray-tan phenomenon.

A. [Laughing] I have never had a spray tan in my life, and never will. I do body makeup because that just washes off right after the show. But I won’t do that whole spray thing. Just can’t deal with that s---.

Q. What’s the biggest difference in dance styles between Alec Mazo and Val Chmerkovskiy?

A. Alec and I started a journey with the rest of the season one cast to get the show off the ground. In terms of dancing, the level of technical difficulty that I’m being taught this time around is more intense. The first time, I was taught choreography; I didn’t really learn the dance. So if someone said, “Do the cha cha,” I would do that specific dance routine. Now, I’ve learned the actual dances, so I’m learning the depth and breadth of the movements and the footwork, the fundamentals of dancing, rather than one specific routine.

Q. How grueling is the rehearsal schedule?

A. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. We did eight hours yesterday and I’m on my way to the studio for pretty much the same today. I have bruises all over my body and everything hurts. I can’t breathe without feeling my ribs hurt. I’ve done triathlons and never hurt this much.

Q. How is your upcoming routine, the contemporary dance, coming along?

A. Oh my God, I’ve never danced like this and neither has Val. That frickin’ contemporary dance is the most difficult dance I’ve ever done. So we have a outside choreographer coming in to help us out. Every couple had that option. I looked up contemporary dances on YouTube and it’s like a f---ing ballerina on heroin! [Laughs] You have to move and flow like a tide, but have structure and control.

Q. What goes through your mind when a contestant is voted off?

A. Some of best dancers leave because, let’s face it, the show is half popularity [contest], half talent. So if you don’t vote for who you think is best, there’s a good chance the best couple just might go home. It has very little to do with technical ability on this show. I won season one and clearly I was not the best dancer, but I had a huge support system from my fans. I had something that the voting public got behind. I would never be so arrogant as to say, “I was the best dancer!” The show is not about who’s the best dancer, but who is the audience gonna get behind.

Q. Did the “dance-off” you had with John O’Hurley after season one sit well with you?

A. I was fine with it. It was for charity so I was able to donate $125,000 to charity. I’m sorry John felt he was slighted, that he felt he had to challenge me, but I don’t give it any weight. I have the mirrorball trophy, so who cares?

Q. Where do you keep your mirrorball trophy?

A. I have a shelf of knick-knacks I’ve collected from all over the world that mean a lot to me, so I proudly keep it there.

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