We are constantly amazed by the seemingly effortless way Dancing With the Stars manages to produce a live dancing extravaganza every week. Aside from the occasional wardrobe malfunction, everything tends to run like a well oiled machine.
Well, there's a lot of effort that goes into making the show seem so easy. Wetpaint Entertainment recently had the chance to talk to Dancing With the Stars pro troupe member Sasha Farber, and he told us all about the behind-the-scenes work that we never got to see — and the amazing Season 14 cast.
Wetpaint Entertainment: So tell us a little about what goes into getting a DWTS show on the air.
Sasha: So much goes into that people don't know about. I always like to talk about wardrobe. Wardrobe has one of the most hectic schedules. Wardrobe has probably the hardest job out of all of them. And then all the people backstage putting everything together so it comes together perfectly the night of. It doesn't just happen like that. It's so much practice, and so much effort that people don't know about. All the producers and all that, they work ridiculously hard. Even the cameramen — their job is incredible. What those guys capture is amazing.
As for the dancing, you start getting ready maybe three, four months in advance, personally, just yourself. Starting going to the gym, starting to eat properly, starting to take more dance classes. You want to be in top form when everything starts. It's like — all the hard work, mentally and physically, you want to get done before the season, so when the season starts everything looks easy and happy and stress free. That sometimes doesn't happen — sometimes stress is good, and the pressure's good — but working your body maybe three four hours a day for it. Stretching and dance classes...There's so much that goes into it.
Do all the pros and pro troupe members start so early?
Well that's me personally, myself. usually you find out a week or two before, but you don't want to find out a week before that oh yeah, you're in, and then have to get ready from there.
Once the show starts, what does a week look like?
I wish people knew how hard everyone trains. I wish there was cameras to show you what happens from the start of the week to the end of the week.
There's a lot of stress involved, because if you come up with choreography that doesn't work — I'm sure the pros get stressed out, because they want to make their celebs look the best they can. And I think in doing that you have to make them feel as comfortable as you possibly can. I did the Australian DWTS where I was a pro, and I found that it's very, very important to make your celebrity really, really comfortable with herself, and have fun with it.
The week starts off with learning the dances first and making them comfortable. Picking the design of the dress, picking the story, and going into your fittings. Also trying to fit your social life in there, too, because you don't want to stress [the celeb] out. You need them to have fun.
In terms of getting ready for the show, there's camera blocking, there's performing the routine over and over again until you kind of get sick of it. You go home, and you're lying in bed, and the routine is going through your head. Once you can do the routine in your mind, you can do on the actual floor. What happens is sometimes people blank out, so you want to drill it into their heads. But not stressing them out, and having fun at the same time. So you have to come up with angles or keywords or options.
How much time is spent rehearsing in the actual ballroom?
It depends, maybe an hour sometimes, maybe two hours, it all varies. I do think it's really good to practice in the ballroom, because you can see your angles and you can work things out — where the judges will be sitting, what angle you should feature.
That seems like so little time!
That keeps it exciting. It is a reality show, so you have to keep everyone on their toes. Anything can happen, that's the best part.
You mentioned the costume designers. What goes into designing costumes?
Howard [Sussman] the wardrobe [supervisor] , is pretty much a legend. They go from nothing to beautiful dresses, and suits for the guys. You will never see anything worn twice. You can imagine — ten dresses and ten suits have to be made a week. That's crazy, crazy sewing time. They do an amazing job. Some of the dresses, you could use them in movies, no problem. They're Oscar dresses for sure!
The pros have input. Because the show is weekly, that means the pros have to go straight into their thinking heads, because the later they leave it, the harder it would be [to get done] for the next week. The pros say what they want, and the design process begins of "okay, we'll draw this up." And then the pros go "nay" or "yay." Normally "yay"!
What is the most fun part of the week?
When you have your choreography down and you get to go into the auditorium and show it off. It's funny, when you're dancing in the ballroom it looks beautiful inside, but you also know that outside this ballroom there are 23 million people watching. Imagine 23 million people in an auditorium sitting there, watching you dance! Because it's live, that's what's going through your head. "This is awesome, but there's also so many people watching right now."
Anything coming up for the pro troupe that you're excited about?
I can't say much, but I'm really excited that my girlfriend [Emma Slater] is in the troupe. she's going to be performing with us and she's an awesome dancer, so that's going to be awesome. I can't wait for America to see what she can do.
What did you think of the Week 1 performances?
I was watching it going "oh my god." It looks like somewhere in the middle of the season because the standard is so high. I was really, really surprised at everyone's standard, and the degree of the difficulty in the routines.
Do you have any picks for frontrunners?
I was trying to look, 'who do I think is going to win?' And each one would come out and I'd go 'whoa. No, this one.' Tristan [MacManus] and his partner, Gladys Knight — wow. She was awesome. For a woman her age to do what she's doing is incredible. We train hours and hours and hours on one dance and she pretty much did that in a week. Each week she's just going to get better and better."
Also, Mark Ballas and his partner [Katherine Jenkins] did an an amazing job as well. She looked like Marilyn Monroe at one point. I was like, wow.
For more from Sasha, you can follow him on Twitter at @SashaFarber. And, of course, remember to tune in to DWTS Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
For more news about Dancing With the Stars, Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.