Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson said she is enjoying the challenge of mastering the waltz for her "Dancing with the Stars" debut next week.
Shawn Johnson (U.S.) is one of 13 celebrity contestants on the eighth season of "Dancing with the Stars."
"Everything is tricky and, so far, nothing has been easy," she told IG this week.
Johnson said she and her partner on the show, professional dancer Mark Ballas, are eager to compete against 12 other celebrity couples on the season-eight premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" on ABC, March 9 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
"There's nothing easy about it," said the 17-year-old Johnson of the waltz. "It's all been new and challenging to me, from the foot placements to the body posture, to dancing with a partner and dancing in heels."
Known for her powerful, quick style of gymnastics, Johnson said she is gradually easing into a new style of movement — with Ballas' support.
"It's been extremely hard, but Mark has been very patient and encouraging in teaching me how to move slow, elegant and smooth," said Johnson, who at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing won the gold medal on balance beam and silver medals with the U.S. team, in the all-around and on floor exercise.
Ballas' best advice, Johnson said, is "to let all of my gymnastics habits go and have confidence in learning a new way to move."
In sixth season of "Dancing with the Stars," Ballas and partner Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic figure skating champion, danced to the championship trophy.
Johnson said she and Ballas have been able to maintain their focus and teamwork during their training which includes five hours of daily rehearsals, seven days per week.
"Mark's a professional, so both of us are used to working really hard, but we both like to have fun also," she said.
Johnson predicts she will have no problems with the physical endurance required for the duration of the show, which runs through May.
"Are you kidding?" Johnson joked. "I have 14 years of gymnastics under my belt!"
Although Johnson is accustomed to being scrutinized in her specialty of gymnastics, she said she welcomes feedback from the "Dancing with the Stars" judging panel, which includes dance experts Carrie-Anne Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. Johnson also wants the voting television audience to be entertained by her performances.
"I'm eager for constructive criticism, and any comments the judges have will be taken to heart," Johnson told IG. "As for the general public, I plan on just being myself, having fun and hoping they enjoy my performance."
External Link: "Dancing with the Stars" Official Site