‘DWTS’ semi-finals: Karina Smirnoff dishes on if Apolo's 'sexiest man' status has gone to his head

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The "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars" season is winding down, and that means it's time to bring out the big guns. Or should we say the big top, as in "big top" jazz?

That's what pro dancer Karina Smirnoff and her star partner Apolo Ohno brought on Monday night, when they performed a jazz dance to a never-before-seen theme dreamed up by show producers. Add to that a Michael Jackson-inspired dance round, and it was a semi-finals show that may just top them all.

We chatted with Karina after Monday night's show to find out more about that circus-themed jazz dance, rumbaing to the King of Pop, and what she thinks of Apolo's sexy status!

On her semi-final circus act

It was straight out of Cirque du Soleil as Karina and Apolo debuted their highly anticipated big top jazz to the Gwen Stefani song, "What Are You Waiting For?" For this crazy combo, Karina opted to choreograph a more modern jazz routine to the song.

"We're going to go more for modern jazz because of the song choice we are dancing to," she said. "The big top part, that's circus: lots of tricks, lots of lifts."

And lots of disagreement from the judges. While Carrie Ann Inaba nabbed the all-star couple for being "out of sync," Bruno Tonilo came to their defense, calling the dance "edgy" and saying he loved the blend of Cirque du Soleil and "A Clockwork Orange." What did Karina think of the judges' mixed messages and that total score of 27 points?

"You never know what to expect from the judges," she told us. "It's really difficult to predict what the judges will score you on and what they're going to say. We put in a ridiculous amount of work on the dance. We started the week with the jazz, and the circus element of it was difficult because we don't actually get to try the stage, the spaces, the actual platform, the actual circus rings, the actual mirrors. We would put boxes in the studio; we would put a table from the hallway to serve as a podium. You don't get to try this out until the show. Was our jazz as good as our rumba? No. In rumba, we just came together, and we were in sync, and it was perfect. But in the jazz, we gave it our all. We did the best that we could."

While she does think one judge's score of seemed a little low, she added, "We'll take it. And if we're here next week, we're going to fight that much harder."

On her rumba to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror"

The stunning pro dancer had high expectations for this week's rumba to the Michael Jackson classic, "Man in the Mirror." (And with Mama Jackson in the audience, the pressure was on to impress!)

With Karina and Apolo totally in sync this time around (and dare we say sizzling?), even Carrie Ann's heart melted over this romantic rumba. All three judges served up perfect scores for the duo, and Karina told us the powerful song was key to their success in the dance of love.

"When we got the song 'Man in the Mirror,' I was super excited," she said. "It's one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs of all time." But she had to reconcile the song's serious theme -- of poverty and change in the world -- with a romantic rumba.

While nothing felt right for the first couple of days, she told us, "The more we started dancing, we wanted it to be romantic and special and sensual. We didn't want it to be raunchy."

She and Apolo eventually did find a connection to the song's message in their dance: "Sometimes it takes a woman to make a man and it takes a man to make a woman. And sometimes you need that love to be stronger and to start changing yourself for that person that you love. And that's what we went for in this dance, because the song is so powerful," she said.

Karina was also glad to have a second chance at a dance this week. "To be able to go from a circus jazz that didn't get a very good reaction -- and the comments and scores we were hoping to get - to be able to cancel all of that out and get in the moment with the rumba was incredible," she said.

On Apolo making People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive list

Talk about bringing sexy back! Just days after Apolo made People's coveted "Sexiest Man Alive" list, we had to know the inside scoop: Has his newfound sexy status gone to his head? His dance partner -- who spent about 45 hours rehearsing with him for this week's routines -- tells us he's so shy that he didn't even tell her about his sexy status.

"It took me eight weeks to get his shirt off," Karina reminds us. "He's so conservative, but I'm not mad about that. I like it." But she did say that after his hip action in this week's rumba, "He really should be the sexist man alive."

All-stars finale

Next week's finale promises some "supersize" freestyles. Karina tells us, "We have some amazing ideas if we do make it to next week and if we do get to do the freestyle … It could be pretty incredible!"

With another dreaded double elimination on tap for Tuesday, the all-stars need your votes to make it into next week's finale. Online voting at both ABC.com and on Facebook is open until 11 AM ET/8 AM PT.

Tune in to the "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars" week nine results show on Tuesday, 11/20 at 8 PM EST on ABC.

More from this contributor:

'DWTS: All-Stars': Karina Smirnoff dishes on trio dances

Backstage at 'DWTS': Karina Smirnoff talks chemistry and that mid-dance slip

'DWTS' Backstage: Karina Smirnoff talks fusion dance and Apolo going shirtless

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