The race for the Mirror Ball is on once again in Season 28 of Dancing with the Stars, and this time, former Bachelorette Hannah Brown is taking the stage with her partner Alan Bersten. Spoiler alert: They won the whole thing! Read on to find out more about everything that happened in the week leading up to their final winning performance in Hannah's DWTS diary.
Tuesday, Nov. 19
Oh my gosh. I cannot believe that this is the last week that I will be doing this crazy thing that I've been doing for 13 weeks now [Ed note: Stars start practicing for DWTS two weeks before the show begins airing]. Making it into the finals is already like winning, in a sense, so I feel like I have a sense of relief that I can just do my thing and be confident in knowing that I have worked so hard to get here.
I feel like this is Alan's go-time. He's really stressed, which kind of made me upset. I was just wanting us to enjoy our last run of spending so much time together dancing, so it kind of bummed me out when I realized fairly quickly that he was not in the mood to chat with me. It didn't feel like I could do anything right, even though I was honestly probably the most calm and willing to just do whatever he said. So I pulled him aside, because I was close to tears, and told him we needed to talk before doing our last interview together. He said he was just stressed, that there's a lot of pressure on him, and we ended up hugging it out like we always do and having a really special conversation about how we've enjoyed this together.
Then we did our last master interview, and I got so emotional talking about mine and Alan's time together and the true friendship that we have. I know everybody thinks that we're dating, but we really aren't. We've really grown as friends, and it's been a rollercoaster. We're just two passionate people who have given it their all to this competition, to the show, and to our partnership. I realized that at first in this journey I wanted this to be something I do for myself, because I before this I was giving myself as the Bachelorette to these men who really didn't deserve it. So it's been cool and full circle that now I want to win this not just for me, but for us as a team, because Alan has put everything into this just like I have.
After that, we practiced our Viennese waltz, which was one of our very first dances and one of the best, and added like 45 seconds to it. Then I learned a little bit of my freestyle. Then Alan had to stay and continue choreographing the freestyle. I went home and iced my ribs, watched Euphoria, and went to sleep.
Wednesday, Nov. 20
Today we have our extra dancers here for the Viennese waltz. It's fun because they're all the pros I've gotten to know well, so it's fun that they get to be added to our dance this week. Alan is still a little stressed, but he's trying to be better about how he's dealing with that. I can tell he's working hard on making sure that the dance is great and he showed me a little bit of it before we started. It's a hard freestyle, but it's so me — we have "Girl on Fire" and "Hollaback Girl" as our dance songs that are being remixed together. He really wants to showcase me, which is so awesome of him, and we have a lot of partnering sections which is great, because I really think we dance so great together, too.
We started learning the dance and it's tough. There are these crazy lifts and jumps that we really can't try yet until we have the dancers in, because they're involved in them too, but I'm learning it rather quickly. I'm like game on — let's do this thing.
After that we had the ABC holiday party, so I had to go get ready, and I have this really pretty dress that I got to wear. I was there representing both the Bachelor franchise and Dancing with the Stars, so that was cool. There were so many amazing and talented people there, so it was awesome to be in a room with them.
Watching all the different partners on the show is funny. I think Alan and I are definitely the closest. Even though we probably have some of the bigger fights, we just enjoy being around each other. At the party we just ate a bunch of desserts and drank wine, which are all things that make me happy. Then I went to bed early because we have a long day tomorrow.
Thursday, Nov. 21
Today is a big day for me to learn everything. We're working with the backup dancers to do the crazy lifts for my freestyle. I have to jump off the stage into Alan's arms! It's so scary. Witney Carson, one of the pros, even tried doing it, and she struggled with it too. I feel like I'm ready to do whatever, but this is a little tough.
There is one really cool lift I get to do with everyone holding me, though, and that's really fun. It was scary at first because you have to flip backwards, stand straight up, and ultimately let the dancers toss me back up. I love all the backup dancers, but sometimes it's intimidating, because they're so good and you have to be able to hold your own in the middle of them. But I have my girl Peta [Murgatroyd] in my dance, and Jenna [Johnson] is definitely helping with the Hollaback Girl section too. When we break into Hollaback Girl I'm in the front, and there's no room for mistakes. Everybody seems really excited about the dance, even the backup dancers, and that makes me feel good. This is such a hard dance — I'm dancing two minutes straight, balls to the wall — and I'm just like, again, again, again. I want this so badly.
At night, I went to an event for Cara Delevingne, because she created this really cool line for Balmain and Puma. We connected this year and she's just the coolest chick ever. It was great to be able to be out for a bit and to support her, even though my ribs hurt to just sit. Then I went home and went straight to sleep. I'm trying not to stay up too late and to get my rest.
Friday, Nov. 22
Practice again. These practices are long. We practiced with the troupe and this is the day we have to get it perfect, because we have to send in a shot for production to see to figure out how they're going to make all the crazy fire and special effects happen.
It's coming together and I'm feeling good about it. Everybody's just really helpful, and Alan is feeling good too. We still have our moments, but it's going well.
Saturday, Nov. 23
Today has been up and down. This is our last day before camera blocking, so Alan and I had practice by ourselves in the morning. I'm forgetting a few things, which I shouldn't be, but I'm just overwhelmed and a little sad that this is almost over. It's the weirdest thing: I've never felt like I'm counting down the days for something to end on one hand, but on the other can't believe that this is really almost over.
We get to actually go on the stage and almost do a camera blocking before camera blocking, without the cameras, which basically means we get to do the dance on the stage for the first time. That's when I got a little upset with Alan, because I was really scared about doing the jump off the stage. It wasn't landing right and I was freaking out. Alan is kind of like me — he gets stressed and all over the place — and this time he has to deal with like 15 other dancers too. So we went to Erewhon, talked it out, and went to the studio.
I was literally crying while dancing because my ribs hurt so badly, but I just knew we had to fight through it. Alan knows we're in the final stretches so he pushes me, and at this point I'm tired of getting in arguments about it. So I'm just wiping away a tear and doing my dance over and over again until it's right.
Then we had this big shoot where we went up to the helicopter landing on top of CBS Studios and did this really awesome shoot where they say our names and make a montage of us saying cool stuff. It was really fun, but I was really cold. I was wearing this really small gold dress, but it ended up being a really nice shot, I think.
My parents got into town later at night so I got to see them. It was really great to be able to just come home to my mom and my dad. I walked in and had some ice cream and a salad, because, you know, balance. And red wine! Then I had a shower and got in bed, because tomorrow is camera blocking.
Sunday, Nov. 24
I rolled out of bed, had touch-ups in hair and makeup, and did an interview with Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight. Then we started practicing the dances with all the effects. This was not the best camera blocking for us. I just got really emotional. I think Alan and I are very much the same in how we handle stress, and it's not in the best way. We're like fire and gasoline. We should be used to this, but we still hurt each others' feelings. And then we always just make up and we're fine.
I'm really feeling the pressure. I know I shouldn't, because it's already done — we're in the finals; it's already happening. We're trying to reach out to everyone we know to post to vote for us tomorrow, because it's the big day and I don't want to stress about that anymore.
I got home and my parents had ordered food for all of us and made homemade guacamole, and we just sat around. It was so awesome to come into my house and have Hallmark holiday movies on and everybody sitting around on the couch. It was just what I needed for the night.
I'm packing up all my stuff to get ready for the big day, because whether we win or not, we're going straight to Good Morning America on Tuesday morning, so I have to be prepared for that. I'm having to leave it all up to the Lord, and whatever's gonna happen will happen.
Monday, Nov. 25
Oh. My. GOSH. I am the mirror ball champion!
Going into the show tonight, I had this feeling of peace that I really haven't felt during the season. I'm always wanting to go over my dance moves 'til the last minute, and I think sometimes my perfectionist ways get in the way of me actually enjoying the process. But I didn't let that stop me tonight. I knew that this was the last time I was going to get to dance and something about that just made me more free. I had moments where I got nervous, of course, because I think when you want something so badly that's normal. But I was able to channel all that. I honestly really surprised myself, because even throughout the day, at rehearsals in the morning, I was not that way at all.
I prayed, I flipped a switch, and right before we started dancing, Alan was in tears. I was like What the heck? What happened?. He was just really overwhelmed and excited and thankful, and that was really cool to see. Keo [Motsepe] asked me right before, How are you feeling, what has this all meant to you? just to make me think. I started tearing up too. He told me to channel that, and everybody will see my heart. I feel like that's what happened — especially in my Viennese waltz. It was a beautiful dance for me to perform and be a part of, and it gave me a lot of confidence going into the freestyle. I was watching everybody else and I'm like, This is our last time to dance, so Hannah, just own it. I had so much fun in my freestyle, and that's when I needed it the most. I could have let all the pressure get to me, and I have before. But I really did enjoy the moment.
When we got to the final two, I had no idea what to expect. I thought that they called our name for the runner up so I was confused on what to do, and when everybody started screaming I looked at Alan like, "Did they say we won?" I thought I would have burst into tears, but I was really happy and shocked. When I won Miss Alabama USA I was the same way — I just celebrated. I have had moments when I have gotten teary eyed since my named as called tonight and a lot before, but I am just really grateful for this opportunity, for all the lessons I've learned, all the dance steps I've learned.
But really, this experience goes far past just dance steps. I've learned so much about who I am, my strengths, my weaknesses, how I can push through things I never thought that I could, how I can be a performer and I bring something different to the stage. I might not be able to always act, but I bring real authenticity. I'm so glad that people were able to support and rally around me and help me have this beautiful victory and happy ending that I've been wanting so badly for the past year of my life. It turns out I got it in a totally different way. You know, my Mirror Ball is just as shiny — probably more shiny — than that engagement ring that I once had. So I think I upgraded!
Watch Hannah and Alan's winning Viennese waltz and freestyle below:
Reporting by Samantha Rollins.