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Dancin' On Air

Soap Opera Digest: So, let's talk "wardrobe malfunction." Were you surprised by all the attention that broken strap received?

Kelly Monaco: Yes! My sister was watching on TV and said to me after, "Kelly, I didn't even know you had a wardrobe malfunction until [Judge] Carrie Ann [Inaba] mentioned it. You didn't miss a beat. I had no idea."

Digest: I confess ... me, too. I thought your hands covering your chest was part of the routine.

Monaco: Yeah, it wasn't. But thank you.

Digest: You ended up wearing the same dress in the finale. What did you do differently that time to prevent another incident?

Monaco: They sewed extra reinforcement straps in there. I had three straps going around my neck that went from one side to the other, so if one broke, I had another and another, whereas before, those straps were sewed on individually to the shoulder piece and that was it.

Digest: Did it enhance your second performance not having to worry about that happening again?

Monaco: I keep going back to Carrie Ann's comment about how she liked it better the first time with all that excitement there. That's probably why it was exhilarating to watch. Like, "Oh, no. What's going to happen next?" But I've got to tell you, it felt a lot more comfortable to be able to use my hands the way they were supposed to be used and spin as fast as I was supposed to spin and not have to worry about all of that.

Digest: Did you have any say in your costume selection?

Monaco: Not at all. They totally had us all marketed in a certain way. I got to add and subtract color from where I wanted, but the bones of the costume were already there. I said, "More rhinestones. More burgundy. Less melon," but that's the extent of that input. Which was fine.

Digest: Did you watch your performances after the fact to study your moves?

Monaco: Thank God for TiVo! What I really had to go back to see were my reactions. "What did I say? What didn't I say?" Those were the things I couldn't remember. I knew when I was dancing when I was screwing up and I knew when I was not. But I didn't know what my reactions were. What other people's reactions were. And the journey packages that they put together. Those were the things that were more important to me.Digest: Were you happy with what you saw?

Monaco: Yeah.... I was almost in tears.

Digest: How did you and your partner, Alec Mazo, choose your final freestyle dance, the one that gave you the show's only perfect score?

Monaco: After the wardrobe malfunction, we both said, "We have to have a tear-away! And considering I suck so bad at waltz, we thought, "Let's do a fake-out in the beginning and pretend we're doing the waltz and go into something else. It was his job then to choreograph the rest. I pushed for the lift. I pushed for the backbends. I pushed for the helicopter [spin]. I pushed for the things that I always wanted to do, the things that we weren't allowed to do throughout this whole routine, the things I couldn't wait to do.

Digest: How did you do all that spinning and not get dizzy?

Monaco: Considering the first day I couldn't do one spin without feeling like I was going to vomit, I came a long way. Your body gets immune to it. But yeah, after those helicopter spins, I almost had it. Spin after spin after spin.... I was spinning my little heinie off.

Digest: One of the clips in the finale showed you and Alec working out in the pool. Where did that Dirty Dancing bit come from?

Monaco: The pool thing came about because we tried practicing some of the lifts in the studio and after being dropped on my head, we realized that wasn't working. So, we got in the pool, but I couldn't keep the Dirty Dancing [lift]. I don't have the balance for that. We got that lift one time out of 10, so it wasn't worth the chance that we'd be able to get it that one time when we needed to get it. So, we went with a different lift, which was equally as difficult. There was also a whole segment [that didn't air] where I practiced with a helmet that I'm sure will come out in the behind-the-scenes DVD. I literally had a helmet on during my whole entire rehearsal. It started when he was doing split kicks over my head. I'm like, "I'm not getting my teeth knocked out. I'm putting a helmet on." It was a sight to see.

Digest: How are you doing, bruise-wise?

Monaco: I got a real nice clunker on my knee [during the finale] from the fall out of that helicopter spin. Play it in slo-mo and you'll see it. But I don't know if many people were looking at my kneecaps.

Digest: And your feet?

Monaco: My feet have never hurt so much in my entire life. They're cut, bruised, swollen. My toes are a pack of sausages.

Digest: Do you think the harsh comments early on from the judges inspired you to do better?

Monaco: I do. But I stand by what I said from the beginning. I respected their comments and I think in order to improve, you have to be honest. It was the best thing they could have done for us — not necessarily for everybody, because I don't think just anyone can take it and run with it, or take it and not bite back. A natural reaction would be to yap back at them and say who the [bleep] do you think you are? So for me, and the way I respond to things, it was the best thing that could have happened.

Digest: Looks like you really did have the eye of the tiger.

Monaco: It's an awesome feeling to know that we were the bottom hitters in the beginning and we ended up against the best couple. When all's said and done, we went to the end. We couldn't ask for anything more.

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