Paige VanZant Talks On Rehearsals For Dancing With The Stars, Her New Dance Coming Up, And More

We posted on this interview in the new Who’s Dancing What and When” post last night, but, we wanted to make sure to give it a post of it’s own too since it’s such a great interview. Paige VanZant talked with MMA Junkie about how Dancing With The Stars is going so far. She also talks on what it’s like working with Mark Ballas, her new dance coming up (which is a Quickstep to something from “Toy Story”), and more. Here’s a take, but, be sure to read MMA Junkie for more.

What was rehearsal week like with Mark still recovering from the Week 2 back injury? How much did he do, and going forward, will you always have a second person in there to do particular lifts or moves so he can make sure he doesn’t aggravate the injury during the week?
He did most of the teaching from a chair. It wasn’t until Saturday that he really stepped in to do the dance with me. Until Saturday, I was doing it with Alan (Bersten) most of the time, and then Mark would step in when he could. It was up to Sunday and Monday for us to get it down together. It was definitely a little scary going into it, only rehearsing with Mark for not very long. But he did a good job with all of it, and hopefully he’ll be better and can dance full time (in practice) this week. I think Mark’s still undecided exactly what he’s doing (with rehearsals with the injury), so I feel a little in the dark with a lot of it. But whatever happens, I’ll be comfortable with whoever I’m dancing with, or whoever I’m learning the dance with. It’ll be OK.

Can you feel their excitement level of the crowd while you’re dancing? And how does that compare to the crowd when you fight?
I didn’t really notice the crowd at all. And it’s the same thing for a fight – you try not to focus on who’s in the audience because you don’t want it to distract you from performing well.

You got a strong anti-bullying message out there for “Most Memorable Year” week. How important was it to you to bring that element into your taped package?
For me, my biggest message for those who are bullied is, you don’t have to tell people what happened to you. You don’t have to tell people what you went through. That’s the past, and the past doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is growing from what happened to you and using it channel something really positive. And it’s hard to look at it that way at the time. It’s hard to say this will mean something, or this will be worth it in the end. It’s hard to look at it in a positive way. So it’s just about pushing forward and not having to become your past and just growing from it. For me, it was kind of a battle. I had a lot of people telling me, “Oh, you need to tell your story because then there are people who can get through this and then you’ll have a connection with people.” And that’s the complete opposite of what I want to do. Yes, I’ll say that I was bullied and I went through some traumas in my life, and it really doesn’t matter what happened because I’m not going to label myself and I’m not going to have a target on my back because of it. It’s all about whatever you go through and how hard it is and just growing from it – not becoming your past and knowing you have a bright future ahead of you.

Was the vibe around practices and in dress rehearsals different this week for some people, especially given the emotion behind some of the routines?
Of course, everyone was emotional. It was a little bit different because the emotions were high. I feel like it was still very happy, though. Obviously, some sad stories were out there. But everyone, at the end of it, just felt so good to get out there and perform and dance another day and share a little piece of them. I think everyone really walked out happy.

You, Wanya Morris and Nyle DiMarco seem to have separated from the pack a little.You’ve said you had no expectations other than have a good time and have a great experience. But you’re right there in contention and you’re getting great comments from the judges. How does that feel?
It feels really good to get the positive feedback from the judges and be toward the top. For me, still, I just want to get my story out there and share and connect with people and bring more fans over to the UFC. For me, it’s still just about the experience. I don’t know how long I’ll be on the show, so I’m not going to take any day for granted. The athlete in me, I want to work hard. In practice, I want to learn the dances. I want to learn the technique, and I think that’s definitely what’s helped a little bit. I just hope moving forward that I can continue to do that and just enjoy the whole process.

ETA: Below is a new interview with Good Day LA…