Today's News: Our Take - Dancing's Maks: I Believe We Can Make the Final
Hope you're all well and safe and sound, especially if you're on the East Coast. My and Kirstie's thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
It's been a very hectic few weeks and we're glad we don't have a Tuesday show this week. (I hope you all voted, by the way!) We decided to just take the day off completely. We didn't have rehearsals or anything. It's gotten to the point where last week was so draining physically and mentally for Kirstie that she could barely stand. We've never taken a day off, so it's good to let her have a chance to rest.
A lot of people have been saying to us, "Well, she's already done the show. She knows what to expect. How can she be so exhausted?" Yes, she's already done it, but this season isn't a direct replica of Season 12. None of us has any idea what the show is going to throw at us each day, let alone each week. When you don't know what's coming, everything's a surprise and you get more anxious and stressed. It's human nature. Suppose someone said, "Drop and give me pushups." You're going to keep going until they tell you to stop, but you don't know when they're going to tell you to stop. Psychologically, it's a lot easier to be told to do 50 pushups and be done with it. Kirstie knows about the group dances, the trio, the marathon and everything, but she doesn't have the schedule in front of her for the season. We get told each week what's happening the next and it's overwhelming. She's a trooper. I want her to hold on and keep doing her thing. I think the "incidents," as Len called them, during our fusion routine took a mental toll on her. She put a lot of effort into learning the dance and the one time she messed up her count was on show night, and it was a big blow to her. Her feeling backstage was, "What the hell is the point? I'm putting so much effort into rehearsing and I just messed it up." I feel really bad and there's nothing more I can ask of her. I want her to realize that there are only a couple weeks left. One thing I can promise is that she's not giving up. She's doing more than she should. She's doing more than she can. The end result, whether we win or lose, will be a tribute to her resilience.
The thing that kills me the most is that I can't help her learn to dance the way she wants to and the way you probably normally would in real life. If I were to tailor a program to her, it would be longer and more in-depth. She's not the type of person who's like, "Tell me the steps and I'll do them." She's a cerebral person, an educated actress and woman. She knows her craft and she approaches everything the same way, including dancing. She needs time to learn. It's not that she's not capable of learning; it's that she doesn't have the time. There is no way I can tell her what she wants to learn in order for her to learn it well in four days. I'm trying to make her understand that she's not learning just dancing. The show is basically: "Show me what you're able to learn in four days." If she gets it, I think it will help a lot.
I believe in Kirstie. I don't care about the outcome. I don't care what position we're in right now. She's a person that we need on the show. She brings a great contrast to the show, and I'm not talking about skill level. Everybody left is incredible. I know everyone is predicting Shawn, who continues to make our jaws drop, to win, but I don't think it's a slam dunk. Melissa is fantastic. I'm so happy for her and Tony winning the marathon. Apolo — wow! He is amazing and kills it every week. Kelly is just stupid good. Emmitt's still got it and Gilles is arguably one of the best male celebrity dancers we've ever had. They're all so good that sometimes you can't even differentiate, but the show is not just about dancing, and as you saw in our package, Kirstie has realized that. She knows she belongs here. She brings something to the show — entertainment, inspiration — that cannot be scored. Even in professional dance competitions, it's not always the winners or best dancers who are the most memorable. The paradox of taking your non-dancing friends to a dance competition is that they usually point out the dancers with the most personality who maybe finished in the quarterfinals or semifinals. If you don't know about dancing, most people don't care about technique or turns or extensions. They just want to be entertained. They're looking at it from a different perspective. They don't look at it like a dancer. I didn't understand that for years. That's why you had Maks speaking out about Bristol in Season 11. I know people reading this right now will be like, "He's backpedaling." I'm not. I am making my own discoveries about the show that I probably should've made a long time ago, but better late than never. Same thing with Kirstie — I believe we still have a big breakthrough in us. I believe she can make the final. Everybody is working hard, but I wouldn't count us out.
We have two dances this week: The Viennese waltz and a trio with Tristan. I can't wait to work with Tristan. Just having another person in the room would alleviate the pressure Kirstie. We're good friends with Tristan and we hang out. I made a joke that we picked him because we just want him to be paid, but I was so happy that we got the first pick so we could grab him. We didn't want to throw away the first draft pick, so to speak. Tristan's very positive, very fun, lighthearted and he's a very good dancer, so I'm really looking forward to the trio.
I got a lot of tweets about my "fireworks crotch," so I'll tell you the whole story of what happened. Our song was "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder. The stage designer comes up to Kirstie and me and says, "Listen, the producers think it would be great if you wore this codpiece that is from that era and fireworks will shoot out from it during the dance." Kirstie and I were like "Are you serious?" He says yes. And then I realized that Kirstie was on his side and not mine! She goes, "You have to do it. I think it's going to be so funny." It took a little convincing from the comedic genius that is Kirstie and whatever the hell the stage designer was thinking, but I finally agreed. So we build the whole dance around the concept that my codpiece would erupt, for lack of a better word. On Friday, we go in for our costume fitting and the costume designer says, "We're not doing it." I was like, "Are you kidding me?! We built the dance around that." Apparently the pyro-technician was too busy to make it. I was very upset at first, but I thought about it and realized that I didn't want to do it to begin with. But then the producers made a few calls and the pyro guy gets the thing done somehow. On Monday, we decided to cut it out of the routine and use it for the bumper, which is the teaser before the commercial break. I was so nervous about it. The thing was literally a cup painted black with a hole in it and a tube sticking out that looks exactly like what you think it looks like. It's not well-endowed at all. It goes on top of your pants and you have a thong situation with a wire, and the pyro guy is standing behind the stage with a remote detonator. It's like a child made it for a science project. Imagine if we had kept it in the routine! Kirstie and I would be in a tight hold in the quickstep and bam! Fireworks go off right into Kirstie Alley's you-know-what. The bumper went off fine and I'm glad you all had a laugh, but it took every ounce of me not to squint! That is, however, the last time I agree to the producers' ideas! They've put me in tights and in pleather, but an exploding codpiece is the last straw!
I don't know how to smoothly transition from something light to something serious, but I do want to address Sandy. I cannot begin to describe what it was like last Monday to have to dance while something so devastating was happening on the other side of the country and people were dying. The stories coming out break my heart. I felt helpless and thank God for Kirstie because she made me realize that I'm a lot more powerful than I think I am. She organized a semi-truck to deliver donations from L.A. to the East Coast and it was just inspiring to watch her to her thing. I've since contacted a lot of people myself. A lot of people came out of nowhere told me how they helped out with Katrina. One lady contacted me on Twitter and I was on the phone with her for 90 minutes. In 2005, she put together 54 trucks that went to New Orleans that brought donations. So I'm working with her to take the necessary steps to do something similar. I've found somebody who will get me a big warehouse in L.A. I will get trucks. After that, I'm reaching out to big corporations about donating stuff. I got a tweet from somebody in San Francisco and she said that her husband is a truck driver. I spoke to her and her husband and they're willing to come down and drive to New York, which is absolutely incredible of them.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things and areas that are not being talked about and not being shown on TV. There's only so much devastation you can show, but I know there's a neighborhood where I grew up that's wiped out. They're setting up bonfires to keep warm outside. Everything they own is destroyed. My dad came out and close friends have been with us. My friend from Brooklyn showed me pictures on his iPhone that he took of neighborhoods where we grew up. There's a foot of mud, beautiful gatherings that are completely destroyed. The people don't know what to do. They're waiting for something to come. Obviously a lot of effort went into Manhattan and higher priority areas and I'm not judging anybody, but the outer boroughs and areas like Staten Island and Long Island and New Jersey cannot be overlooked. I'm so grateful for Gov. Christie and Gov. Bloomberg and our mayors. I'm fascinated with Cory Booker. He's a superman. People are tweeting him, "I have a fire in my house," and he tweets back, "I'll be right there." And he is. It's stories like this of people in power who are not sitting back in their offices, but are actually hands-on that are encouraging. President Obama responded immediately and came down to help out right away. I'm trying to spend the rest of my time to do something that I strongly believe in. This is giving me a different perspective on life and helping others and doing something that has a bigger meaning. It's going to take a long time to recover.
I cannot wait for when the season is over and I can go home. Val and I are going to spend most of the time at home trying to help out. We've been talking to our friends. We're going to go house-to-house and help rebuild. You don't need to be rich and powerful to help. It starts with a blanket and a pair of socks. That's not a lot to ask of anyone. I don't want to want to call anyone out and I'm not angry at anybody, but I expected a lot more from our cast. I realized that when you don't have a personal connection to something, it can leave your mind really fast. I can't blame anyone because I've been guilty of it too. All I know is New York is my home and has given me so much. I remember 9/11. It was a devastating event. The way people rallied made me really proud of New York and made me proud to be an American, I feel very proud of being from there. It's my obligation, because of what it's given me, to give back. My dad told me that there are three-hour lines for gas. We are so spoiled in this country. We don't fathom what it's like. Since my family came here, in the last 19 years, I've never felt what it is to have a deficit of anything. We come from a place where we stood in line for sugar and bread. We had coupons to get a portion of something a month. In the last 19 years, I forgot what it's like. Seeing and hearing about this scared the hell out of me. I don't want to go back to that. I'll do anything I can to help and I hope you all will also do what you can do help. Whatever you can do, please do it. Whether is volunteering, donating money, clothing, getting the word out on a grassroots initiative on Twitter — anything is something.
Thanks for reading!
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