updated 09/16/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 09/16/2013 AT 5:30 PM ET
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff are teaming up to compete on season 17 of Dancing with the Stars. The former High School Musical star and the season 13 champ will blog on PEOPLE.com about competing on the hit show.
I wanted Karina as my Dancing with the Stars partner so badly. I am extremely grateful that I got my wish. We’re having a good time. She’s working me hard. We’re having fun, though. We laugh every day. She is such a hard worker and wants to produce the best performances we can get.
We haven’t really had any spats. The only thing that we’ve actually butted heads about was a mishap when we were working on a tough lift for our first dance. She had hurt her leg a little bit and I told her to rest on it and not risk further injury. She said, “No! Let’s go again.” We push ourselves more than the other pushes. That’s really where we’re most combative.
The fact that I’m athletic and go to the gym constantly has been useful in rehearsals. I’m able to move and pick up choreography quickly. I have a really great memory, so I’m pretty good when it comes to learning lines and everything.
Having some dance background – especially in tap and ballet – I’m sort of used to falling on that in certain dances. It’s literally the complete opposite movement. For instance, we’re working on some jive dances right now and I’m used to trying to tuck my butt under, but you’re supposed to stick it out. Certain things like that are so ingrained in my body. I have to retrain myself. It’s not even learning something from scratch as much as breaking down old habits and relearning them.
I’m nervous about our lift during Monday’s dance. It’s a very tough lift, especially for week one. Our first dance is contemporary, which allows lifts. We’re attempting a pretty big one. We’re doing really well, but we did have that one fall. We’re working hard at it and getting so much more comfortable with each other’s bodies, so I think we’re going to be okay.
I think everybody is excited about this season. Usually when we look at the cast, there are one or two people at most who have had dance experience. And then sometimes you might have to pull up people on IMDB. But I think this season is going to be really exciting because everybody has got an edge. Half the cast has had dance experience and some people are so popular because they’ve been in the press recently.
Having Corbin as a partner has been great because he just doesn’t stop. We work hard every day. He’s a bubble of joy to be around and to dance with. He’s always positive and joking around. I use this experience to get away from every day problems. I love it. So far, I love every single second of this season. Happy Smirnoff is always better than angry Smirnoff! I think the whole cast is happy this season.
Corbin and I have a very similar sense of humor. We make each other laugh all the time. We spend so many hours together that it can seem even longer than it really is, but we make the time go by fast.
It does help when you have a partner who has had dance experience, but ballroom and ballet are polar opposites. I have students who were principle dancers of ballet before and the moment they start doing ballroom, it looks so awkward. Sometimes, having a partner who had experience before is a good thing. And other times, it’s a bad thing because you have to re-teach certain things. Relearning is a lot more difficult at times than starting from scratch.
Overall, though, I don’t think Corbin has any weaknesses. But also, it’s only the honeymoon stage. I’m sure we’ve all got to find each other’s weaknesses – it’s just a matter of time.
Neither of us has ever done a contemporary dance before. I’m nervous for Monday. Our dance has a crazy lift in it. It’s nerve-racking. You only get to do it once. You work so hard and then you get this one chance to make a first impression.