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Kym Johnson Hits the Floor

The new Dancing with the Stars champion talks about making her Broadway debut in Burn the Floor and working with Donny Osmond.

Kym Johnson
Kym Johnson isn't exaggerating when she says the last week of November was "the craziest week of my life." On Tuesday, November 24, she and her celebrity partner, Donny Osmond, were crowned champions of the ninth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, and on Friday, November 27, she made her Broadway debut in the dance extravaganza Burn the Floor. TheaterMania recently spoke with Johnson about these significant events and her plans for the future.

THEATERMANIA: Last week was really a whirlwind for you. Were you prepared for it?
KYM JOHNSON: I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. They put all of the finalists from Dancing on a private jet to New York on Tuesday night so we could appear on Good Morning America on Wednesday, and right after that, I had to start rehearsals on Burn the Floor -- with no sleep. It was exciting and crazy!

TM: Being from Australia, was being on Broadway something you always thought about?
KJ: It was always my dream to be in a Broadway show, but I didn't think it would happen. I was really nervous on Friday, which was my first show, but by Sunday, I was really enjoying it. And now I love it!

TM: Is this your first time doing Burn the Floor?
KJ: I was in the original workshop in 1998, and then I toured with it for six years -- we even did Radio City Music Hall. But it's definitely changed a lot; it was more of an arena-style show in the past. Now, it's much more intimate. I also had to learn all new choreography; but since I am really familiar with Jason Gilikson's style, it wasn't so hard.

TM: You're appearing in the show with your Dancing with the Stars co-star Maksim Chmerkovskiy. What is that like?
KJ: We're good friends, so it's nice to be dancing with him every night. And no offense, but on Dancing, you don't dance fully with another professional, so I am really enjoying this. Plus, on the show, I had to choreograph all the numbers and come up with songs, costumes, and all that. It's nice that I don't have to keep thinking every minute and I can just dance.

Kym Johnson and Donny Osmond
(© ABC)
TM: What was your reaction when you found out your partner was going to be Donny Osmond?
KJ: The dancers are always playing guessing games before they tell us who our partners are, and I think everyone was jealous. I had a good feeling from the beginning; I knew he was dedicated and would give everything. His work ethic is so professional.

TM: What was your off-stage relationship like?
KJ: Donny is the nicest man; he had a smile on his face every day. He used to give me singing lessons on our lunch break, which was a real role reversal. He would bully me into singing, and I'd bully him into dancing. He thinks I have a good voice. He tells me I should do it professionally. We'll see.

TM: Did you expect to win?
KJ: It was a tough competition -- very up and down, like a roller coaster. But it's not how you start, it's how you finish. We were in bottom for the semifinals; thank goodness for the fans. So we knew we had to make a comeback in finals. Donny and I put a lot of effort and thought into the freestyle number (which was set to "Back in Business"). And when they announced the winner, I was nervous. I really did want it.

TM: What's in your future?
KJ: After I'm done with Burn the Floor, I'm going to visit my family in Australia. Someday, I would love to choreograph my own show. I grew up on those old MGM movies and that's where I got a lot of my inspiration. And I would love to do a more traditional musical. I really want to play Roxie in Chicago. I think it is just an incredible part. I sing all the numbers in my dressing room and at home. In fact, my flatmate thinks I sing the role very well.