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Dancing With The Stars

Exclusive Interview: Brandy Dishes on How Things Have Changed on the DWTS Set

How hard was to prepare for two dances this week?
It was SO hard. I just remember practicing for it and Maks turning on the music and saying, "We're going for four minutes so get ready." And we were passing out. We were so tired and so exhausted, and right before we did it last night we had to do the four minutes in dress rehearsal and Maks wanted us to go full out in the dress rehearsal so we could see what it was like. I couldn't stop coughing. It was so exhausting. Then when we did it that night I just thought that with the crowd and the judges watching and knowing that everyone at home was going to be watching that I was just going to have adrenaline. I was so tired. You don't understand. I said “You know what, if my body doesn't do it for me, I'm just going to LOOK like I have a lot of energy.” But I really didn't have a lot of energy. Don't tell anybody! [Laughs] I was really tired.

It didn't show, even though you guys went last you had to pull off some really tricky moves.
Thank you so much. I tried my best, I really did and I was so happy for Maks because he never won the marathon. He never won it and he really wanted it. He was doing all sorts of kicks and stuff and I'm like “Maks, that's not in the choreography!” He was just so excited and I was so happy that he was able to win. It's so funny – you come into the competition and you want to win for yourself and you want to win for your family and your friends and your fans and stuff, but honestly, I really want to win this for Maks. He wants it so badly and he's deserved it so many times. So I want to work so hard to make him proud so that he can take home that trophy.

So Maks’ role is really “The Brandy Whisperer,” because he knows how to calm you down when you’re stressed.
Yeah, he does. He pushes a little bit of my buttons sometime because we're both passionate people but we're friends at the end of the day and that's what helps. We've connected on another level. This is really my buddy, lmy brother, and so he does calm me down and he knows exactly how to talk to me and how to say things to help me, to calm my nerves, and to help me through it. He's really a great partner.

Let’s talk about the mood among your castmates. You and Maks have stayed on course and are rising up, but there’ve been some shifts among others lately – Jennifer Grey’s had off moments, Bristol Palin’s shown some real improvement. No one’s got this sown up.
Things do change. It's definitely a different energy now in the competition, because there are not that many couples left and everybody is trying to step up their game. So the vibe is just a little bit different. We're a lot more quiet than we used to be. Of course, we're still all very close but you can just tell that everybody is in a different mind state, everybody is in a different zone, and as much as I love my other cast members I'm just so focused on me and Maks right now. It's almost like everything else around me doesn't exist right now, because it's the halfway point in the competition and I really want to go all the way. I don't want anything to get in my way at all.

After two intense but very successful weeks getting into her groove on Dancing with the Stars, R&B star Brandy escaped the dance studio to give Wetpaint the latest 411 on her dramatic improvements. As Brandy and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy stake their claim as frontrunners to claim the coveted Mirror Ball trophy, she shares more inside info, including how she found confidence on the show, which celebs are rooting for her, and the change of mood among the cast members.

Editor's Note: Brandy wanted to make sure we sent a big “thank you” to all of the Wetpaint fans who’ve supported her since the beginning of the competition – and yes, she’s still eager for your votes! If you want to see more Brandy, she’ll be appearing on both Access Hollywood Live and Ellen Degeneres’ special Halloween episode on Friday, Oct. 29.

What a night you had on Monday!
It's so amazing! I'm so floored by what Maks is teaching me and what I'm learning every week. This is an amazing experience. I'm so glad that I'm a part of this show and this cast. It's just really a blessing.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. You and Maks are showing a real consistency and development, where some of the other bright lights have hit some snags. What's been the trick for you two?
I think with Maks, he always wanted us to grow each week and he wanted us to be consistent and that's been his strategy from the very beginning. We're both very passionate about this competition. We really want to inspire people when we dance and we want to go out there and do our best. He's told me little things that have helped me. [On Monday] night before we performed, he said, “Listen, just try to impress me. Do what you do in rehearsals. Try to make me proud of you and then everyone else will be.” I was like “That is such a good little nugget to keep in my mind,” and that's really what I did. I really tried to make Maks proud and then the judges were proud, and then the audience was proud, and then the fans were excited. So I took that and I ran with that.

You seem to have put out a genuine joy when you've danced in the last two weeks – the happiness factor looks like it’s been stepped up. Is that true?
Absolutely. Brooke Burke's husband gave me some advice: he said “Go out there and just have a good time. Don't get too far ahead of yourself and don't get into your head. Just go out there and have a good time.” That's what I've been doing. I've been trusting the moment. I've been trusting that my body knows exactly what to do, that the work that I've put in with Maks is going to take its course on the dance floor and it's really all about trusting the moment. That's really all I've been trying to do, because I think in the earlier stages something was really missing. I was too concerned and I was too worried and doubtful, and none of that translates into a good dance. The more fun that you have the more fun that people are going to have watching you.

Can you describe how you feel in the moments before the score is revealed?
It's wonderful because when you get the good comments from the judges you go up there feeling confident that you're going to get a good score. You just don't know if it's going to be an 8 or a 9 or a 10 – or a 7. You don't know what it's going to be, but the comments really give you a hint on what they're going to give you. Right before, I'm like “I just want it to be high. Just please give me a high score so that I can keep learning each week.” I'm very anxious up there. I really don't know what to say to Brooke. I just don't want to sound stupid and I don't want to sound too excited, because my inner child is so young and bubbly and I could scream. It's like “Calm down. You're 31. You have to be a lady!” So there's so much going through my head right before the scores. I'm anxious and I get so excited up there and I get very overwhelmed. So Maks always has to calm me down. He's so tired of calming me down.

Are you and your castmates leaning on each other still or is it getting more competitive in that you're keeping your thoughts to yourselves?
Well, it's hard for me to keep my thoughts to myself. Monday night Bristol and I were going over facial expressions in the mirror for our Tango and I was like “You've got to get sexy on them, BP! You can't be afraid!” So we're still encouraging each other. That's never going to stop because we're all in it together regardless of there being one winner. We're all winners to even get out there and do it every Monday. But it's definitely a different vibe, and it's not like the first second or third week. Everyone is serious right now, very serious. The talent level is amazing in the competition.

I feel like there's no easy pick for America Tuesday night. Does everyone feel that: that there is no natural pecking order this week as to who’s most likely to go home?
It is very stressful. I did well last Monday night with Maks, but Tuesdays are always nervous for me – you just never know who America voted for. We'll find out and see, but I really hope that I don't go home. I really do. I don't want to leave. It's not time for me to leave yet. I don't want to go. [Find out who went home Tuesday night here.]

You've been out and about to some events lately. What are people saying to you about the show, what do they ask you?
Well, I went to The Carousel of Hope Ball the other night with Maks, and so many people were coming up to us and telling us that we're doing a good job and they want to see us go all the way and that they want us to win and all those things just made me feel so good. This show has brought so much exposure and a totally different demographic than what I'm used to into my life, to be known. There's twenty one million people watching and that's really been a blessing for us all, to get this type of exposure and to do this. So it was a great night for me. Of course going to a charity event for children with diabetes and then on top of that everybody and their mama was there, just beautiful people coming up and saying positive things to Maks and I. It made us feel really good.

There were a LOT of famous people at that event. Did you find out that you had a particular celebrity fan?
I love Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry, and when I went to say hi J-Lo she said, “So, how's it going on Dancing With The Stars?” I was like 'How did you know?' You'd never think that someone like J-Lo, that something like Dancing with the Stars – and no offense to them, they've done a great job of making the show a phenomenon – but still it's like she knows that I'm on Dancing With the Stars and that just made me feel so good. Then Akon was like “You're doing good on the show.” I was like “Wow. This is amazing!” Then just regular people that walked up and had something nice to say, even that makes you feel good. It's amazing.

I’m going to just decide now that you're going to be back next week. What's the main focus going into the next round of dancing?
I just have to stay in the zone. If I make it through then it's definitely not allowing anything to get me out of the zone. I have to have confidence and I have to believe in myself and I have to believe in my partner and I have to continue to trust our formula and what has worked for us and go to the final. That is something that I must do. I don't want to come out of this headspace at all, because I'm in a good place right now and I'm starting to believe more and more in my ability and that the God within me is definitely poking it's head through. I'm ready to go all the way.

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10.27.2010 / 08:56 PM EDT by Scott Huver
Related: Dancing With The Stars, Interviews, Brandy

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