With its 24th season well underway, Dancing with the Stars is on fire and one dancer burning up the ballroom this year is none other than bubbly and congenial Utah-native, Lindsay Arnold.
Last week, Arnold and her partner, former Chicago Cubs player, David Ross hit the dance floor for the show’s first-ever Vegas night, full of 11 Sin City-inspired routines that included everything from the samba to the foxtrot.
While the pair performed a sexy “Magic Mike Live” number as a jazz routine much to Ross’ apprehension, Arnold, ever the encouraging teacher with a heart as glittery as the Mirrorball, knew he had it in the bag. The two earned 31 points that night — his highest of the season and an accolade she is incredibly proud of.
“That is truly my favorite part of being on the show — the rewarding moments where I see how much my student has learned,” Arnold said. “It means a lot that I have had such incredible partners who respect me as a coach and trust me to be their teacher.”
In an exclusive sit down with Womanista, Arnold reveals that with these past few weeks under their belt, she is noticing how Ross is getting more and more competitive. She adds the two not only recognize “this is real,” but his drive is a force in what will keep them in the competition.
Despite the two being called, “Team Lady and the Gramp,” the 23-year-old doesn’t see it that way. Arnold in many ways sees age as nothing but a number and token of familial wisdom when it comes to her 40-year-old partner.
“David is one of the most genuine and down to earth guys I have ever met,” she said. “We have created a really great relationship and are already very close — he definitely isn’t a grandpa to me, but feels more like a dad to me, and has really taught me a lot already about life, so I’m very grateful.”
Arnold shares that while there are many hours involved with rehearsing, she has noticed over the years a competitive streak among the stars.
“The celebrities get more and more competitive the longer they stay in because I think they start to get really involved and it means more to them the further along they go,” she said. “[But] as pros, we are always competitive because this is our job, [yet] at the same time we are all very supportive and want to see others do well, so it’s a good mix.”
And fans are loving the mix of stars this season — especially, the chemistry between professional dancer, Sharna Burgess and world champion bull rider, Bonner Bolton. However, their pairing didn’t go without a bit of controversy when Bolton accidentally got touchy with Burgess during their first week.
It’s a situation Arnold said was an honest mistake completely blown out of proportion.
“Unfortunately in these times, social media [and] TV can turn things into a big deal that aren’t important or an issue where there is plenty of other worldly news that is far more important to be discussing,” she said.
Though there are many competitors this season working hard to win the coveted Mirrorball trophy, one star Arnold points out as possible competition to her partner is former New York Giants running back, Rashad Jennings.
“He is such a natural mover, which is unexpected because he has zero dance background, so he is definitely one to look out for,” she said.
Since signing on as a dancer for the show back in 2013 when she was just 19 years old, Arnold has seen her fair share of amazing stars hit the dance floor, but makes it a point to continuously avoid the “starstruck” status.
“I have always tried to avoid being starstruck because I try to keep the perspective that celebrities are people too,” she admits. “But that definitely doesn’t take away from the respect and admiration I have for the celebrities I have been lucky enough to meet and work alongside over the years.”
With five phenomenal seasons as a pro, Arnold reminiscences about her favorite moment on the show but said most humbly it’s tough to answer.
“I have had so many, but one thing that is always my favorite is dancing a freestyle with my partner,” she smiles. “It is such a special thing as a pro to make it to the finals on the show and getting to perform a freestyle is one of the best things.”
As Arnold gears up for another show tonight, she shares the one ritual she does every time she hits the stage with her partner.
“I always say a prayer before I go out to perform,” she said. “And then I start to focus in on my partner and make sure they are ready to go.”
Watch Dancing With the Stars every Monday night on ABC, check your local listings. For a glamour that’s truly chic and sweet, check out Arnold’s exclusive Womanista Approved picks for beauty, hair care, relaxation and more.
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