updated 11/11/2012 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/12/2012 AT 7:25 AM ET
Peta Murgatroyd is a former Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy in season 14 – only her second season on the series – with Donald Driver. The Australia native is blogging for PEOPLE.com about competing with Gilles Marini in the current all-star season.
It’s week eight and we’ve got one more week until the semi-finals. This is when everyone really starts to get aches and pains and just gets lethargic.
Occasionally I’ll have a glass of wine when I get home at night, but usually to unwind, I hop straight into bed. I’m exhausted. There’s no time for going out and partying. All my energy lies in getting Gilles [Marini] to the finals.
I’m feeling confident. We obviously had an extra day to rehearse last week since there was no show on Tuesday. It helped us polish things a lot.
Monday was great. The fusion dance went really well. We got three 9½s and that was a great score. Gilles and I were very happy with how it went. He did everything that I asked him to do, so I couldn’t ask for anything more.
This week we have the quickstep as our solo dance and we have a trio salsa with Chelsie Hightower. I’m so glad we chose Chelsie, because she’s just a little firecracker. She’s going to add so much dynamic to the show.
Rehearsals thus far are going great. We have finished up both dances now, but we are perfecting them so that Gilles doesn’t have any worries when he goes out on the floor. We are dancing to “Danger Zone” from Top Gun for our quickstep. It’s really fun. I think Gilles is really embracing the character of it. In the dance, we run around the whole floor and never stop at all.
I have no idea who is going to go home during double elimination this week, regardless of who has a good score or who doesn’t have a good score. It’s really hard to tell at this point in the competition because everyone is amazing.
I get asked all the time about who I think our biggest competition is, but I’d have to say everybody. I can’t name one person who is more than the other because everyone is just neck-and-neck at this point. Whether you have a low score or a high score at the end of the day, it’s about the fans voting. As you saw, Sabrina Bryan went home. It’s ludicrous and it’s crazy, but the votes count so much.
The whole experience is kind of like Groundhog Day. You get through last week, and then you have to start all over again with new ideas and a new dance. You have to get new energy and find new things that are going to inspire you.
I’m totally inspired by Gilles every day. He’s amazing to work with, and we collaborate all the time with ideas. I never shun away his ideas. He’s very much involved in the choreography process and I love working with him.
I think Gilles’s passion, will and drive to succeed have gotten us this far in the competition. I think he’s an incredible performer, which is what the judges mostly say about him – that he embraces each character that he’s been given.