Mirrorball, Mistakes: Brandy Dreams Of `Dancing’

It’s the night of the “Dancing With the Stars” premiere, 20 minutes until Brandy and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy dance live in front of millions, and the singer-actress can’t find her performance costume.

Scrambling, she finally locates the dress, but now one of her dance shoes is missing. With time running out, she decides to perform barefoot, but she misses her cue and can’t catch up for the duration of the dance.

Then she wakes up.

Brandy has spent several nights dreaming about “Dancing With the Stars,” and she confesses her anxious nocturnal sojourn during a rehearsal just days before the season premiere.

“A couple of nights before, I’d been dreaming about the mirrorball,” she says, referring to the show’s glittery trademark trophy. “So that’s good.”

But with the 11th season about to begin, her nerves are rising.

“I have a hard time trusting the process and trusting the moment,” she says. “It’s always coming from a place of wanting to do great.”

Chmerkovskiy reassures her. A veteran of eight “Dancing” seasons, he says that if she makes a mistake, he’s ready “with plans C, D and F to camouflage it, so you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

The 31-year-old star is set to make her dancing debut Monday alongside her fellow celebrity contestants: Actors David Hasselhoff, Jennifer Grey, Florence Henderson and Kyle Massey; athletes Rick Fox and Kurt Warner; reality performers Audrina Patridge and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino; singer Michael Bolton; and political daughter Bristol Palin.

Photo: AP Photo
Brandy and her dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, rehearse for "Dancing with the Stars," in Los Angeles.

After two weeks of working together daily, Brandy and Chmerkovskiy’s playful chemistry is clear. He purposely pokes at her sore muscles; she warns that he better not drop her during one of their tricky turns.

“That’s like telling Michael Jordan you better make that basket,” the pro dancer says.

Their banter continues as they practice the jive at a public dance studio inside a suburban mall. Chmerkovskiy tells the slender singer to extend her foot a little further, and she responds with, “Dude, if I go any further, I’m going to go outside that window.”

They run through the moves again and again, and when Brandy finally gets the steps right, she lets out an excited little scream.

“Stop squealing and go,” Chmerkovskiy says.

“That was awesome,” she tells him. “I landed on the right thigh.”

“And I’m moving on,” he says. “Do it again.”

They continue, and Chmerkovskiy chides his student for overstepping her mark. She blames slippery dance shoes. He scoffs, takes off his Nikes and dances in his socks to show her that she could still control her footwork. Then he slips, his feet sliding out from under him.

“Exactly! Exactly!” she shouts victoriously. “Thank you universe, because this is the first time I’ve ever been right in rehearsal. … This is what you did in the dream, when I only had one shoe!”

“Please use that footage,” Brandy says to the camera operator capturing their rehearsal.

Chmerkovskiy sighs as they continue.

“Take 743,” he says, clapping his hands together like a director’s clapboard.

Brandy’s appearance on the hit dance show represents a reunion with ABC, where she had her only other televised ballroom-dance experience in the network’s updated version of “Cinderella,” in 1997. Brandy played the title character, and one of her scenes included a whirl around the ballroom. But that was 15 years ago, she says, and more focused on the facial expressions of her and her prince than the precise movements and proper posture required on “Dancing With the Stars.”

“This is brand new to me,” she says.

But it’s not the only new thing she’s got going. The reality show about her family, “Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business,” is set to return to VH1 in December. And Brandy is headed back to the studio to work on a follow-up to 2008’s “Human.”

“Music is my first love,” she says. “I love doing both (music and TV). I was born for this.”

She also hopes to incorporate her new dance moves – and maybe her dance partner – into her music videos.

But first, she’s got to get over her “Dancing” jitters and get through the season premiere. She and Chmerkovskiy are performing a floaty Viennese waltz that’s sure to evoke Brandy’s Cinderella days.

“You, Cinderella, prepare for the fairy tale,” he says. “It’s going to be fantastic.”

Brandy takes a deep breath of self assurance, shaking off the anxious dream of the night before.

“I know I’m not going to misplace my dress. I know I’m not going to misplace my shoes,” she says. “I’m going to make all of my cues and I’m going to dance with everything I’ve got.”