I Went Behind The Scenes Of A DWTS Rehearsal, Here's What You Don't See
Christian Wilkins turned this fumbling journo into a certified disco dancer, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Fans of 'Dancing With The Stars' will have heard countless times just how grueling the show's rehearsal process can be.
In the lead up to every Sunday night's live broadcast, the stars spend the better part of their week in the studio, drilling the choreography for hours and hours on end.
It looks tough. But the masochist in me has always wanted to try it. So I wriggled my way behind the scenes and into a rehearsal with Christian Wilkins and his professional dance partner, Lily Cornish.
"This week has been a really hard week," Lily told me as I entered the rehearsal room. "We're doing contemporary so it's a lot of 'get up off the floor, jump over here, jump over Christian, Christian throw Lily around!'"
I think for both of us, even me, this week has taken a toll on my body.
Hearing that a professional ballroom dancer was feeling the strain, I began to worry about how I would hack it. Fortunately for my brittle bones, there was to be no dramatic lifts or impossible positions. Instead, I'd be hitting the dance floor with some disco moves.
For this week's group number, the contestants will be boogieing along to a '70s classic. The ever-delightful Christian took the reins, walking Lily and I through the steps he's been learning.
Did I apply two layers of fake tan in preparation, knowing I would have to see myself in a mirror beside living goddess, Lily Cornish? Maybe. (Yes).
Did I make sure my hair looked okay, knowing I'd be swooshing it around next to the man with the industry's glossiest locks, Christian Wilkins? Maybe. (Also, yes.)
Clumsily hip-thrusting my way through two counts of eight, I quickly exhausted my own abilities and we called it a day. I do have to say though, Christian was an excellent teacher. I told him he should throw his hat in the ring and come back as a pro dancer next year.
Christian was one of the few stars to enter the comp with a little bit of dancing experience under his belt, but he insists that slither of practice has actually done him more harm than good.
"I danced at school," he told me.
And I'm going to be honest, I walked into this TV show quietly confident that my dancing skills would help me. Thus far, they have only hindered.
"My technique that I've taken from having done ballet before is completely opposite to doing ballroom and Latin."
According to Christian himself (and hey, sometimes the judges), timing is the pair's biggest issue. "I get so excited during the live shows," said Christian, shimmying his shoulders.
"Lily’s like ‘slow down!’ I can see it in her eyes when we’re dancing. I'm like a giant child and I give 150 percent. But everything is so technical that you need to hit the mark."
"You need to focus and be in your body," said Lily, jumping in. "If you're too out of your body, it can get a bit hectic."
Christian is the son of renowned entertainment reporter, Richard Wilkins. But he tells me he's not the only one in the room with showbiz in his veins.
"Lily's actually a 'Dancing' alum because her step dad who got her into dancing was on the original season."
Him and my mum met while he was on 'Dancing With The Stars' -- so it's pretty funny. I'm sort of like second generation.
Lily and Christian were more than welcoming as I blundered my way through their dance rehearsal, and I could quickly see the rapport they've built with each other.
"It's so much time together --- like being in a relationship, even more than that," Lily said of their close bond.
"It was actually making me a bit sad the other day thinking about it coming to an end," said Christian. "We go from having seen each other, literally, every single day for now five weeks... to not."
"I'll be a sea away, back in Tasmania," said Lily.
"She's my little Tassie devil," Christian said, scooping his dance partner up in his arms.
While they're mentally preparing for the best, they're physically prepping for their more intense performance yet.
It's Back To School week this Sunday on Dancing With The Stars, and Christian and Lily assure me they have something very real and very raw in store.