Dancing with the Stars is about to feature another first. The upcoming all-athletes edition of the ABC celebrity ballroom competition, which marks the first-ever themed season of the franchise, will also include the biggest height difference between two partners in the history of the show.
While past seasons of Dancing with the Stars have paired tall basketball stars with tiny female dancers, no DWTS pro has faced the challenges that Lindsay Arnold will face as she dances with 71-year-old NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem stands at 7 feet, 2 inches, while Lindsay Arnold is only 5 feet, 6 inches.
While Kareem clearly towers over Lindsay, the DWTS veteran revealed that she is actually inspired by the pair’s massive height difference.
“We’re making it work first of all,” the Dancing with the Stars champ told TV Guide.
“It’s the biggest height difference that we’ve ever seen on the show. So that’s definitely a challenge. When you dance, there’s a lot of dances where you have to be closer in height to do them, but we are getting creative. We’re making it work. It’s actually really exciting for me as a choreographer because I love pushing the boundaries and trying new things, and that’s something that we’re definitely going to do this season.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar added that he likes to compare dancing to basketball because you have to “learn each others’ strengths and weaknesses and anticipate their moves and do everything you can to make your teammates look good.” The NBA legend admitted that dancing looks much easier than it actually is, and he said all of the coordination, planning, and practice has been humbling but fun.
Lindsay Arnold is coming off of a Dancing with the Stars Season 25 win as she heads into the all-athletes season with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Last fall, Lindsay was paired with actor-singer Jordan Fisher. The couple not only won the mirrorball trophy, but they also set the record for the number of most perfect scores on any season of Dancing with the Stars. Lindsay’s past DWTS partners also include several athletes such as boxer Victor Ortiz, NFL player Calvin Johnson Jr., and MLB catcher David Ross.
Lindsay Arnold and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will kick off their Dancing with the Stars competition with a Cha Cha. The couple will face off against nine other couples to compete for the 26th DWTS mirrorball trophy.
In addition to Kareem and Lindsay, the four-week Dancing with the Stars: Athletes season will feature Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer and pro partner Witney Carson; softball superstar Jennie Finch Daigle and Keo Motsepe; former Olympic skater Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber; MLB player Johnny Damon and Emma Slater; NFL star Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess; Olympic skater Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson; Notre Dame basketball player Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko; Olympic skater Mirai Nagasu and Alan Bersten; and Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson and longtime DWTS pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev.
Check out the video below to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold talking about their biggest competition on the new season of Dancing with the Stars.
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30 at 8/7c on ABC.