On the Ground

From The Bachelorette to the Ballroom

A Q & A with Canadian Dancing with the Stars contestant Kaitlyn Bristowe By Grace Wells-Smith
  • Bristowe and Chigvintsev / Photo courtesy of ABC

Update: On November 23, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev were crowned the winners of Season 29 of Dancing with the Stars. Bristowe is the first Canadian who has ever won. 

On Monday, Dancing with the Stars revealed the top ten duos. Included in that list is Albertan Kaitlyn Bristowe, from The Bachelorette season eleven. 

Hosted by Tyra Banks, the twenty-ninth season of the celebrity dance competition premiered on September 14. Other celebrity contestants include Selling Sunset’s Chrishell Stause, AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys and Carole Baskin (now eliminated) from Tiger King.

Bristowe is paired with Artem Chigvintsev, a longtime Dancing with the Stars pro. The team has been among the top scoring for the past two weeks, peaking at twenty-seven points (out of thirty). And for Bristowe, this has been a long time coming.

She got the news in June, during a Bachelor Nation interview with host Chris Harrison.

“I do have a very, very real question for you, Kaitlyn,” said Harrison.

“Ok,” said Bristowe.

“And this is a question I am so excited to ask you because, well, your life is about to change and I’m not joking,” said Harrison. She then looked at her boyfriend, Jason Tartick, and asked if he knew what was going on. He shook his head and said he had goosebumps.

“Kaitlyn, will you be on the next season of Dancing with the Stars?” asked Harrison.

“Are you serious?” said Bristowe, visibly in shock.

“I’m dead serious,” said Harrison.

“Ok, play it cool, Kaitlyn. Play it cool. Are you serious?” she asked again. And of course, she accepted the offer.

The Dance Current caught up with Bristowe to talk about her experience on the show so far.

Grace Wells-Smith When Chris Harrison told you that you were going to be on the show, you seemed so shocked, almost speechless. Why were you so excited?

Kaitlyn Bristowe Well, that was a whole other backstory. I was actually supposed to go on Dancing with the Stars five years ago after my season of The Bachelorette. And I had a contract signed, and I was so excited to go. And I ended up being told I couldn’t because I was still under another contract. And it was kind of taken away from me. And I was just heartbroken and crushed. And I think over the last five years, I’ve had such a good relationship with ABC and with everybody over in The Bachelor franchise that they kind of felt bad for how that had all went down. And so they gave me another chance, and I just couldn’t believe it.

GWS Oh wow! So what went through your head when Chris was like, ‘You’re going to be on the show’?

KB I don’t even, it was like an out-of-body moment where I was just like, I almost didn’t believe the words he was saying. And it took a couple seconds to register. And I still didn’t really process it until I got here and it was all happening. But I just thought about younger Kaitlyn. I used to dance when I was young, and just all of my dreams coming true with dance.

GWS So this week, the top ten were revealed. And you did the samba to Sorry by Justin Bieber. The feedback you got was really good, especially from Derek and Bruno. They commented on your technique, and I think Bruno mentioned that he thought it was quite elegant, while Carrie Anne wanted more attack, she said, even though she still gave you a really great score. Can you tell me what it’s like to stand there when you’re done performing, and listening to all this feedback with tons of people watching on TV?

KB I’m usually just so happy that I got through the dance because it is so much hard work. And I think a lot of people don’t really see a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff or all the hours that go into it. And it’s just, you work so hard through the whole week for that minute and a half on the dance floor. And so when I’m done, I’m just, like, pure joy. If the judges tell me I did terribly, I’m going to be like, ‘Ok, I hear you,’ but, like, I did it. So it’s kind of surreal standing there and listening to their feedback because they’re judges and they’re the professionals and they’re telling me things that I need to listen to, and take into the next week, because I always want to show up the week after and show them that I listened to their feedback.

GWS Right. So, before the music even starts, how do you feel in that moment? When you’re on the stage, it’s quiet, the lights are down and you’re about to go.

KB It is a rush. Like, I go through so many different emotions on that Monday. And that moment right there. Like, there’s something that just comes over me where – I mean, five seconds before that, I’m freaking out. Artem is always having to be like, ‘Just take a breath; you’re going to be ok. Just go out there and have fun,’ because I just start to panic. Like, ‘Well, what if this happens, or what if this happens?’ And I get so nervous, but then as soon as I’m out there, and it’s dark, and the music’s about to start, I just, like, get in the zone.

GWS So you’re in the top ten; are you excited?

KB Oh my gosh, I am thrilled every second that I’m here. I’m just so happy and grateful. And the fact that I’m in the top ten, it’s already gone by so fast. I just love every second of it.

GWS And I guess the rest of it is going to just fly by.

KB Absolutely.

GWS So I want to go back to before the show even started. How did you prepare before you stepped foot in your first rehearsal?

KB I don’t know how early other contestants found out they were going on, but when I found out, I was just like, ‘I want to feel so strong going into this. I want to take care of my body. I want to take care of my mind. I just wanted to come here feeling the best I’ve ever felt.’ So I actually worked with a trainer and did a lot of weightlifting and boxing and just tried to fuel my body with proper nutrients. I would take vitamins and I was using my Peloton and I was just honestly so in the zone to get in shape and get strong for coming out here. And I was meditating, manifesting. I was doing it all.

GWS It’s been about six weeks now. Have there been any rude awakenings or any wake-up calls that you didn’t expect? 

KB Honestly, I think it’s the pain in the body. I mean, as hard as I trained before I came out here, in the first week, two weeks, I hurt my ankle so badly I had to get an MRI. I thought I was out of the competition. I think what I’ve learned is that it can be taken away from you so fast. And so you just really have to take care of yourself. And then I think another thing was I came in here thinking like, ‘Ok, I don’t think I have an advantage because of my dance in my past. I think I actually have to unlearn things.’ But it was so much harder than I could have ever even imagined. And Artem had to sit me down and say, ‘You need to be better at communicating because you’re coming in here and you’re acting like you can do this, and you got this. And then we go to do the dance, and you don’t, and that’s fine. You’re just not communicating with me.’ So I’ve never really been told that I’m not a great communicator. And so that was kind of a wake-up call for me, that I need to take that into the dance studio. I need to put my ego aside and know that I’m brand new to this and I need to communicate.

GWS So, that was one thing I wanted to talk about too, was your partnership with Artem. Obviously, it’s going well, especially the past two weeks. And so what do you think goes into creating that kind of partnership?

KB Well, I think we became stronger just from that conversation because I do think communication is key to any partnership in life, including in the dance studio. So I think that has helped us and I think we both are so dialed in and focused and want this, and you know, he’s had a year off and he has a newborn baby. Every time, he’s like, ‘I’m doing it for him.’ And this is an absolute dream come true. I feel like we’re both on the same page with how hard we want to work and how much we want to be here.

GWS And so when did you have that conversation about communication?

KB That was two weeks ago. Well, I mean a week and a half ago.

GWS I’m wondering, do you have any pre-performance rituals that you do every week?

KB I always Facetime my mom, my dad and my sister every single time before and after the dance. But anything other than that, I always do stretching and just basic things. I’m not really a superstitious kind of person.

GWS Right. Well, your family must be excited for you.

KB Oh, actually, that’s one more thing I do. I always sit and do a meditation before too. But yeah, my family is just so proud. I mean, they know how much I just love to dance and that this was a dream for me. So they’re all just over the moon.

GWS And what has been your favourite performance so far?

KB Probably my Viennese waltz I did when I dedicated it to Jason. I loved the costume. I loved the choreography; it felt the most comfortable to me. That was probably my favourite. But I mean, I can’t believe I’d even say this because if you asked me three days ago if I love the samba, I would be like, ‘I never want to samba in my life again.’ But after watching the performance and seeing how all the hard work paid off, that was also one of my favourites.

GWS So did you think that the samba was the most challenging?

KB Oh my gosh, yes. It’s so fast. And it’s got a bounce to it. But you have to keep your knees straight on certain points and, like, my hips just don’t move like they should in that kind of dance, and it was very challenging.

GWS So my final question for you is about competing. I used to be a dance teacher myself and worked with competitive kids. Sometimes they would get really down on themselves after getting feedback. So what’s your advice to young people who compete in dance?

KB I know it’s hard to take the feedback sometimes because you feel like they are trying to almost, it feels like an insult when you’ve been working so hard, but you have to shift your mindset and know that these judges are there to tell you what you need to work on. And that feedback that you take into the studio, and you work from, and that’s where you’re going to grow. So if you’re going to take it and be offended by it, you’re not ever going to grow as a performer. And you have to take that with a grain of salt and know that it’s out of respect for you.

GWS Those are all my questions. Is there anything else you wanted to say?

KB No, that’s great. I’m just so happy to be talking dance with anyone in dance right now. It’s just such a dream.

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