To some, Melissa Rycroft may forever be the bachelorette Jason Mesnick chose on “The Bachelor,” then tossed aside. The good news is that a lot more people know her from the eighth season of “Dancing with the Stars” (on which she finished in second place after coming in as a last-minute replacement for Nancy O’Dell) and her current stint on the all-star edition of the show. I spoke with Melissa, who also has her own reality show, “”Melissa and Tye: A New Reality” on CMT, about returning to the same old stomping grounds,
Why come back to “Dancing with the Stars”? You’d done it once, after all.
Looking over the past four years of my life, it was one of the best standout experiences I ever had, so why wouldn’t I? I absolutely wanted to do it again.
Was it difficult to put your life on hold?
Yes and no. The first time, I was able to put the rest of my life on hold. It was just me. This time around, it’s more about juggling. My partner [Tony Dovolani] understands. He has a wife and children, so for both of us our priority is definitely the home life. He’s been right there all the way.
Who do you think is your greatest competition?
It’s hard to tell just because the audience can change the game. It’s hard to look at the leader board, honestly, because it doesn’t always make a difference. In the first two weeks, Louis [Van Amstel] and Shawn [Johnson] and Derek [Hough] and Sabrina [Bryan] have been power houses. But you also have the great charisma of Kirstie, Emmit [Smith] and Gilles [Marini]. You don’t know who to be scared of; people who are rock solid or fun and keep the audience entertained!
What do you see as your flaws?
After watching the first two performances, technically I’m not as perfect as some of the others. I look more messy. But I think I have a great personality. Tony and I turn the routine into a performance. Week one, we put on a scene from “Chicago,” a Broadway show. That’s where Tony and I can capitalize on our strength, our ability to entertain people.
Which styles do you like the most — and which ones do you loathe?
I really love the Latin routines; salsa and samba and tango. And then, my least favorite is the jive, which I’ve already gotten out of the way.
Which is worse – performance Mondays or elimination Tuesdays?
The performance days you have adrenaline pumping. Yes, you have nerves, but there’s excitement. The second day, it’s just nerves. It doesn’t hit you until the last five minutes of the final show that someone is going home. Last week we were in the last group who could be eliminated. We knew one person in our group in jeopardy, and it was intense.
Is the bar really set that much higher this time around? There are a few dancers who aren’t that great, honestly.
Yes, but I also think it’s the Sabrinas and the Shawns who keep that level up. Those girls are both champions — Olympic champions. There are other people who are great, but we need to keep up with that level that they set, and Gilles as well. You just need to change your approach. You’re keeping up with the best of the best every week. And, of course, we all want to one up each other.
So, now that you’ve been called back to the show, do you think it may be a good idea to keep up with your dancing lessons, just in case?
No absolutely not. If you grew up doing it, it’s one thing, but I don’t know anyone who does it. I burned my shoes the second the show was over the first time!
I guess you didn’t see an all-star season as a possibility?
I don’t think any of us thought it would happen. That’s why nobody kept it up. Well, not exacty. Joey and Sabrina did the Vegas show [of ‘Dancing with the Stars’], but it was a lot of fun, it’s just a different avenue. To go into ballroom now, it would be silly, because it’s a whole different format on the show. You’re thrown into it, so it’s not like a dance class at all.
What has being on “Dancing” done for your career?
It gave me a career. You hate to say nobody knew you before, but I was the ‘Bachelor’ girl who got dumped and that was it. “Dancing with the Stars” thankfully has an even bigger audience and people got to see a whole different side of me. They got to know me, plus I got jobs I never could have imagined. I owe everything to “Dancing.”