Dancing with the Stars’ Karina Smirnoff and Jacoby Jones scored their highest marks of the season for last week’s salsa, even earning a rave review from cantankerous Len Goodman. Could a mirror ball trophy be far behind? In this week’s blog, Karina spills about sharing Jacoby with another dancer and the importance of living in the moment.
SheKnows: Your salsa last week earned nines from all three judges… yay!
Karina Smirnoff: I know! We were excited for the dance, and we were happy with the scores. I think we were secretly praying and hoping maybe to get one 10 but, at the end of the day, it was our highest score and we were happy. I know Len mentioned something like he would’ve liked to see a little bit less lifts, but I tried to go for a more authentic salsa, and if you watch any salsa competition or professional couples, the girl is in the air so much. I thought I was actually doing us a favor!
But it’s all right — I’m so proud of Jacoby. He nailed that salsa, and that was not an easy dance. We really worked hard trying to get the lifts right! And then there was one lift that, after, people kept going, “Are you OK?” And I was like, “Yeah, what do you mean?” Apparently when he jumped over and hooked my neck, it looked really scary. It didn’t feel scary — it felt exciting! I was thinking, “Yay, we nailed it!” but everyone watching was thinking, “Are you OK?” (laughs) So I think we were doing lifting to the extreme.
SK: Yeah, your lifts were awesome, but — wow — you guys must really trust each other. Don’t you ever feel anxious about flying through the air like that?
KS: You know, I trust him because he hasn’t dropped me yet! I think a lot of lifts and tricks have to do with having the same timing together, and Jacoby and I are very in sync. Whenever Jacoby and I go for any lifts — even if it’s a little off — we never seem to fall or hurt ourselves in any way. There’s always a way for us to catch ourselves. The guy is strong and he’s never dropped me, so I trust him 100 percent.
SK: The trust shows! Y’all work so well together, which brings me to my next point: You nailed the salsa, and still ended up being the last couple saved — even with three nines! Is the competition extra fierce this year or what?
KS: Probably! I’ll tell you though, Jacoby was not a fan of being the last couple to be saved. He was like, “This sucks! This is scary. What is going on?” He got so mad! It was so funny to watch him, because he gets so competitive. And I love it, you know, because it means he cares. Wednesday was a really, really good day for me because he came in and was all, “Let’s nail this! I do not want to be in jeopardy ever again!” By Wednesday, we did both dances — we choreographed and he learned both dances. So I was saying, “Hallelujah! We might be in jeopardy again because this is working for us!” (laughs)
SK: So what’s on the docket for tonight?
KS: I think people will be very pleasantly surprised! We have a Viennese waltz for the ballroom dance tonight. I’ve put in an extra section where we can break frame and dance freely, but I did put in a lot of frame steps as well because I want to showcase how good Jacoby’s gotten. He holds that frame solid! It’s, like, made of cement — not moving anywhere! So I am so excited, and I hope that Len and Carrie Ann and Bruno will see the frame and recognize it. For a guy who is 6’4” dancing with someone who is 5’4”? He is doing really well.
SK: You mentioned choreographing two dances. What’s the other?
KS: We are also doing the Latin dance, which is the Paso Doble, but it’s a trio. Jacoby is dancing with me and with Cheryl, which is quite exciting! He can handle two feisty women easily. It was a good week in rehearsal, because we both were giving him a hard time. He said, “This is like a tennis match!” He kept looking at me, Cheryl, me, Cheryl, me, Cheryl. (laughs) He was like, “I’m about to get whiplash!” We do a lot of stops where he goes from her to me, from me to her — he keeps changing, so it’s going to look really cool.
SK: Now that the competition is winding down, are rehearsals more tense?
KS: We get moments where we realize that, including tonight and tomorrow, we only have three shows left and only two weeks. So it’s not that it’s getting more intense or anything, it just kind of gets a little sad. It could all end tomorrow, or it could all end in two weeks anyway. We’re not liking it, but it’s making everything that much sweeter — that much more important — but also sad a little because you don’t want it to end.
SK: You know who else seems like she doesn’t want it to end? Mama Jones, ha ha! She’s so much fun to watch in the audience! Have you two gotten to know each other?
KS: Yes, I love Mama Jones! She comes every Saturday to rehearsal, and if something looks a little funky, Mama Jones will be like, “Umm, I’m not sure about that move….” She actually has a good eye, so when we have rehearsals she actually helps us out — it’s just awesome. And not to mention, when we go in front of the judges, I used to go, “Oh boy, what is Jacoby going to say?” But now I go, “What is the whole Jones family going to say?” (laughs) I’m excited to see what is going to happen if we do get our first 10 — I think she’s going to run out and might kiss Len. So I am excited to see where that is going to lead!
SK: She’s hilarious, and seriously, her skin is flawless — I covet it. I can see where Jacoby gets his good looks…
KS: Right? She’s such a southern lady, like with the way she dresses. I can totally see her on a hot summer day going to church in her outfit. It’s beautiful! She’s really beautiful.
SK: I’m sure she will be elated if you two make it to the end. At this point, what is your strategy for making it that final night?
KS: We try to excel every single week — we try to obviously do better than the last week. But at the end of the day, it is a competition and can end in the blink of an eye. As much as we want to win and we’re working hard to get to that trophy, I want Jacoby to have a blast. I don’t want to just be in the race after the mirror ball trophy — when you treat it like a horse race and you’re constantly going for it, you forget to enjoy it and later regret it. My very first season, I was so into the competition that I forgot to enjoy it! And then it was all over, and you can’t do it again. You can’t bring it back and say, “Okay, let me enjoy it.” So I want Jacoby to savor every moment of this!