Karina Smirnoff, who is paired up with television and stage veteran Corbin Bleu, said the Bleu's professional dancing background has been both a blessing and a curse.
Smirnoff said she pursued Bleu relentlessly, "nagging him to do the show for almost five years."
"There was a reason why I wanted him to do the show, because I knew he comes from this industry," she said. "He's given me anything I would possibly want from a partner."
But while Bleu came in with dancing know-how, that professional experience, for him and fellow finalist and longtime dancer Amber Riley, has made the judges look that much closer.
"They leave no room for error for us," Smirnoff said, recalling a comment from judge Carrie Ann Inaba about a moment in their waltz. "I think when Carrie Ann mentioned something in the waltz that he wasn't on his center, I went back and watched that over and over again, and I was like, gosh darnit. That's what cost us a 10?"
Smiroff said they're hopeful but nervous going into the final weeks of the competition, but plan to push through to the end.
"At the end of the day, this is something we can't control," she said. "Our main goal is to come up with routines that are exciting and entertaining, and hopefully the audience will love it and vote us into the final."
"That's the only thing we can control, and we're going to work hard on that," she said.