Credit: WENN.com Photo: Stepping Up the Romance

In the latest of my season-long chats with Dancing With the Stars contender Brandy, she gives me the inside scoop on stepping up her game this week, her “date night” with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and reconnecting with her own romantic side.

Let me put it out there: this week was my favorite of your dance routines so far.
Thank you so much. I feel great about it!

You were clearly nervous because of the romantic, sensual side of it going in, and you pulled it off. When did you crack the nerves and get past that?
Yes, I definitely was. I just said, 'I've got to let go and I have to just trust Maks.’ Right before we performed Maks whispered in my ear, 'It's just me and you. Just focus on me,' and I just did. I knew that those scores were so important, with the acting. It's funny because my acting coach was in the audience and I had to put it on — at least act like I was in a romantic situation with Maks and it worked. I was just able to turn it on.

Whenever we’ve met over the past several years, it’s always struck me how poised and in control you appear. It seems now that this experience is making you more emotional. Am I right to say that? That your emotions are kinda bubbling to the surface?
Absolutely. This is definitely an emotional experience. It's a roller coaster, actually. Your emotions go up and down because you have the adrenaline and then you have the nervousness and then you get the fear and then you care so much about it that you don't want to go home. It's a whole slew of emotions that you have to go through.

Is it changing you in just your day-to-day life? Are you finding that you're becoming a different person from this experience?
I'm definitely getting stronger, and I feel like I will be able to perform on any stage after I perform with Dancing With the Stars, because this is completely out of my comfort zone. I don't have a mic on this stage. Every stage that I've been on never had judges. Every stage that I've been on never had other people that I had to compete with. It's just been all about me, in that moment, and this is just completely different. I definitely feel like this has changed me.

From the emotional to the physical: you looked hot in that outfit.
Thank you so much! [Laughs]

The costume was probably your sexiest yet. How did you feel about that? I think that's something you always have to be prepared for on the show, what they're going to put you in. Are you comfortable or getting more comfortable?
Well, after this week's costume I have to be comfortable with anything because I didn't have hardly anything on. It was risky and I loved it because now I could wear anything on the show because I wore what I wore on Monday. Actually, it helped me in my dance to have that on. I felt a little more sexy with that on. I always look forward to the costumes each week. They're all different but they're studded, diamond'd out, flashy. I love that. You feel like a real life Barbie doll.

After all this training can you talk about the positive changes you're seeing in your physique — the good things happening to your body?
It's definitely becoming more toned, for sure. My legs are getting stronger. I'm not as pigeon-toed as I used to be. I'm a little more flexible than I was before, so I definitely can see the change.

Tell me about this so-called date with Maks.
He's so cute. He was like, 'We need to get out of the dance studio. This is all we've been doing. Let’s go out.' I said okay, and so I go home and get dressed up and meet him out and it was so cute how he had the flowers and the candy and the wine and stuff – but I was like, 'Maks, you have to be more romantic in presenting them!' But he's my friend and so you have to also get into the mind frame of being romantic. So after we got over that hurdle he started putting his whole mack-daddy swag on me, and it was cute…real cute! We were able to get through it and get the dance where we wanted it to be.

You two are buddies, but have you seen him pull out his ladies man side with other girls?
I haven't really seen that side of him. He tried to give me a taste of it for me to get into the mode of the Rumba, but I know Maks is Rico Suave. I haven't seen the full part yet, but I definitely know that he has it in him, for sure. But I'm his buddy so it's kind of hard for him to be that way with me.

This week was interesting for everyone on the show. It seems like people like you and Jennifer Grey took significant leaps forward and then other promising people like Kurt Warner are starting to hit that wall where they're struggling to get better. Did you notice any frustrations from your fellow dancers?
It was definitely a lot more tense than it was last week. I was able to see how it really matters to everyone on the show about how well they do, and so when you don't get the score that you feel that you deserve or that you want, it doesn't feel good because you want people to love what you do and you want the hard work to come through and show. Sometimes when that doesn't happen you can see it. Like my two 7s: I could kick myself because I feel like I could have done a lot better in my technique. So I was more bummed about my 7s instead of being excited about my two 9s. It's just a weird dynamic, because you want to do well. You want to do what you did in rehearsal on the stage. People are getting a little bit more tense about it, for sure.

How did you feel about saying goodbye to The Situation?
I felt really bad about that. My mom actually cried because he's a really good guy, a nice guy, a giving guy. From the moment that he stepped on set, everyone was getting gifts from him. He's really humble, and to see the work that he put into this and to always have something positive to say to everybody on set, always playing on his iPad with us and showing us the new apps to get – I was bummed to see him go. You could tell, too, that he also really cared. This wasn't just, 'Oh, I want to be on Dancing With the Stars and get popular.' This is something that we all care about so much. It's really an experience where you really start to want to be good.

How did the show’s new stage — which looked pretty fantastic — affect your performance?
It just felt a little bit more intimate. It felt like the audience was right there with you and was sharing the experience with you. But I really couldn't feel the difference except for the closeness of the audience.

This was a weird week for Brooke Burke in the news. How are her spirits?
Brooke seems fine. She's such a nice woman. She started talking to me yesterday about doing the splits and how I have to stretch everyday and she said, 'Girl, I'm going to give you my number and if you need to talk just call me.' She's really a beautiful person. I didn't notice anything down in her spirit at all.

You've been focused on being a mom, and you've talked about romance as not a big part of your life. But are you opening up to that? Is that something that you're getting ready for?
Yeah, of course I'm open for love. I'm probably one of the most loving people you'll ever meet. I know that being in a relationship is something that I must experience again. I just have to be patient and wait for the right guy to come into my life and do all the things that I need to do to be a good woman. I'm ready for that, but I'm just being patient right now and waiting for my perfect soul mate.

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