Chilean actor Cristian de la Fuente has so far survived two eliminations on ABC's ballroom-dance competition series "Dancing With the Stars," airing competitions on Monday and eliminations on Tuesday, but that survival came at a cost.
"My body is really, really sore," he says, "especially after the jive, where we really moved and danced. It was very fast, a lot of tricks. I'm sore in places that were never before sore in my day. And yes, my neck is bothering me a little bit -- something I did. There's a little pain everywhere."
Also the star of the upcoming USA Network series "In Plain Sight," de la Fuente is paired with professional ballroom dancer Cheryl Burke. She has won the competition twice, once each with actor Drew Lachey and football star Emmitt Smith.
But last season, with partner Wayne Newton, she went out fairly early in the competition.
"We joke around," says de la Fuente, "that every time she's been paired with a good dancer, she wins. So that means that if she doesn't win, it's all because of me.
"In a way, there's pressure, because, of course, you want to win. I think she's the best dancer and choreographer on the show. I want her to win. It's not just that you want to do well for you; you want to do well for your partner also. You spend a lot of time with your partner. You start having a relationship, and you want her to do well.
"So, of course, there's a little pressure, but it's not a bad pressure, it's a good pressure. It's a good pressure that makes me wake up early in the morning to rehearse, rehearse until late and go through the five hours -- or sometimes seven hours -- we rehearse a day, with happiness and having fun."
Although he is the only Latin man in the competition, de la Fuente says that's not necessarily a factor in his case.
"People think that Latinos are all the same," he says, "that all Latinos are good dancers. [Chileans] don't have a very sophisticated dance, national dance. It's not like salsa, meringue or samba or something, like sophisticated in that way. My theory is that the warmer it is in the country, the better the dancers are.
"That weather [in Chile] helps to have perfect wine, but not perfect dancers."
But, on Monday, April 7, de la Fuente says he and Burke are tackling the Paso Doble, which is modeled after the Spanish bullfight. That's one dance where de la Fuente's Spanish heritage may come in handy.
"My grandfather was born in Spain," he says, "and went all the way from Spain to Chile, so I have a lot of Spanish blood in me. Hopefully that blood and those genes are going to be awakened, and my blood will be helpful in doing a good Paso Doble and making the memory of my grandfather happy."
Asked if that Spanish heritage allows him to whip up paella (a traditional Spanish rice dish), de la Fuente says, "I'm not a good paella cooker, but I can eat it very fast. My grandmother used to cook delicious paella."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun