Shawn Johnson thought she was too short for 'Dancing with the Stars'
By John Bracchitta, 02/16/2009
While being small may be an asset for a successful gymnast, it's apparently more of a burden when it comes to ballroom dancing, just ask Dancing with the Stars' eighth-season contestant Shawn Johnson.
Johnson, the 4 foot 10 inch gymnast who took home a gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing last summer, says her short stature has already caused professional partner Mark Ballas to make some adjustments to her practice wardrobe.
"He actually had to take me up to the higher heels... It's only three [inches], so it's not too bad," Johnson toldEntertainment Tonight in a Monday report. "I am used to being barefoot [to perform gymnastics], so it is awkward," she admits.
Despite their height difference, Johnson said that she and Ballas -- who won the ABC reality competition's sixth season when he was partnered with Kristi Yamaguchi, another former Olympic gold medalist -- have still managed to see eye-to-eye and work well together during their early practice sessions.
"We work great together and we're both in it to win it," Johnson said.
While her experience as a gymnast had made it easier to tackle the grueling practice schedule she shares with Ballas, Johnson said that any similarities between gymnastics and ballroom dancing ended there.
"Our first dance is so smooth and elegant, and I'm used to really sharp powerful moves so it's a little hard," Johnson told ET. "Ballroom dancing and gymnastics are completely different sports."
Johnson also said that due to her age -- she just turned 17 years old last month and is Dancing with the Stars' youngest contestant ever -- the show won't be letting her wear anything too revealing. While understanding of the reasoning, she noted the decision seemed somewhat ironic decision given her usual gymnastics outfits.
"They've actually said that since I'm younger I have to be a little more covered up than usual, just to make sure it's age appropriate, which I don't have a problem with, I'm used to being in a leotard, that's pretty revealing," Johnson told ET.
Johnson and Ballas will take to the dance floor for the first time during the two-hour performance episode premiere of Dancing with the Stars' eighth season on Monday, March 9 at 8PM ET/PT.