We caught up with country music star Cliona Hagan to discuss how dancing compares to singing, what it's like to be strung up in ropes for dance and her plan to smuggle her costumes home with her.

Cliona Hagan, the performer who distinguished herself in The All Ireland Talent Show at the start of her career, wasted no time in distinguishing herself on Dancing With the Stars, nabbing the first score of 10 for her fiery samba with her professional pro dancing partner Robert Rowinski.

But as the weeks tick on and more dancers are eliminated, the competition is heating up hotter than Hagan's dance shoes.

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"The competition heated up majorly tonight", she said after last week's show, which saw Young Offenders star Demi Isaac Oviawe eliminated. "How I’m dealing with that is to keep focused and I’ve been putting in more hours, as well, during the week, rehearsing.

"It’s so horrible to see someone like Demi, who I’ve been living with and is like a little sister to me, go home. It’s an unfortunate part of Dancing With the Stars. I suppose the winner has to go home too."

How does someone keep a level head with hours of rehearsal every day, mounting pressure and the watchful eyes of the public, not to mention the three esteemed judges? "For me, practice, practice, practice and focus and also to enjoy it. I love getting into the character! It’s so much fun, y’know, being held by ropes and getting into a crazy person character. I loved it all."

As one of Ireland's most beloved country music stars, Cliona is no stranger to a fully lit stage and a heaving audience, but this when it comes to performing, you require an entirely different kind of stamina, she said.

"I’m used to being on stage singing but the dancing is completely different for me. It’s out of my comfort zone 100%.

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"I think the only correlation would be, obviously, there is an element of performance and I think the singing and performing live has helped in that aspect. But regarding the dance, I’ve never danced a day in my life! So it’s like, right Cliona, don’t mess up, remember all your steps and just give it socks."

While quick steps, tangos, and rumbas look effortless during the stars' 90-second performances each night, they require titan effort and immense amounts of preparation. You might waltz onto the dancefloor, but there's no guarantee you'll waltz off it in one piece. 

Cliona has suffered her own share of injuries, saying "I have another injury last week when I was doing a solo dance of the samba, I threw my left arm back too far and during practice today for the tango because it’s such a rigid dance but it’s quite forceful, as well, with the head movements.

"I’ve hurt my arm again, so I’ve actually pulled one of the muscles from my rotator cuff so it’s very, very sore to keep in frame and I felt, y’know what, it’s just one of those things. Everyone has injuries and I just have to keep moving on and soldiering on and not let this keep me down."

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As a performer, too, you would expect her to be well used to hair, makeup, and glamorous costumes, so it really means something that the singer is so taken aback by the glitz of Dancing With the Stars

"Oh my goodness, I said to the girls in the costume department I’m not giving the dresses back! They’re amazing, they’re out of this world. You wouldn’t be able to buy these outfits in a shop. They’re fantastic and, as well, the hair and makeup girls are just second to none and it’s every girl’s dream to get made up like this, and from professionals."

Dancing with the Stars continues every Sunday on RTÉ One at 6:30pm.