Professional dancer Chelsie Hightower first spun her way into the spotlight as a contestant on the fourth season of the FOX reality hit “So You Think You Can Dance.” From there, she was cast as a pro coach on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” where she spent seven seasons working with a variety of celebrities. Examiner caught up with the 26-year old blonde on Feb. 12 to get the scoop on her participation in “Paul Mitchell Shall We Dance on Ice,” the third event in the Colgate Skating Series, which airs Feb. 13 at 3 PM ET.
In addition to sharing tidbits about the Kristi Yamaguchi and Rumer Willis-hosted show, which features performances by a quartet of pro dancers and a robust slate of internationally-known ice dancers including Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Hightower also reflected on her time on both “DWTS” and “SYTYCD,” and updated fans on what’s been keeping her busy.
Sherry Wight: What’s your role in “Paul Mitchell Shall We Dance on Ice” and why did you decide to get involved?
Chelsie Hightower: Steve Disson [of Disson Skating, the show’s producer] is a friend of mine and I am a dancer in the show.
SW: Tell me how it all works.
CH: The special is a show where it combines the best of the ice dancing world with “Dancing with the Stars” dancers. Each piece has a theme and the dancers typically start out the numbers and then the skaters come in. It’s an amazing show to be a part of and something I look forward to doing every year.
SW: Would you participate again if asked?
CH: I would absolutely do it again if asked.
SW: Did you have reservations about the concept: mixing ice with dance?
CH: My only reservation that I have is that I am not used to dancing in a 60 degree arena wearing very little clothing. [It’s] tough to keep your muscles warm and ready to dance but otherwise I love dancing with the skaters who are so inspiring.
SW: I have to go way back to your “So You Think You Can Dance” days. “Bleeding Love” is one of my all-time favorite routines from that show. I’ve watched it hundreds of times over the years because it’s just that good. What was your favorite routine from that show and why?
CH: That is very sweet, thank you! “Bleeding Love” was such an iconic dance so it has to be one of my favorites, but I also loved performing our jazz routine and our [Emmy-nominated] Argentine tango routine which was choreographed by Dmitry Chaplin, who is also in this show.
SW: What do you think you’d be doing with your life had you never tried out for “So You Think You Can Dance”?
CH: I believe I would have gone to school, probably been married by this point since that’s the theme of where I grew up and I’m sure I would have been happy, but I’m more happy with the way things turned out. I have the rest of my life to be married! And at this point I am now looking forward to it.
SW: You were a pro coach for seven seasons of “Dancing with the Stars,” which happens to be one of my favorite shows. Would you go back again, and if so, who would be your ideal celebrity partner?
CH: I would most likely go back if they asked me…. Bruno Mars would be ideal but since he’d probably never do it I’d take anyone with a good attitude and happy demeanor.
SW: Which of the seven celebs was your favorite to work with?
CH: I loved Ty Murray and Helio Castroneves!
SW: Play favorites again: who do you think is the most talented male pro dancer who’s ever been on “Dancing with the Stars”?
CH: I think Val [Chmerkovskiy] is an incredible dancer, Derek [Hough] is an amazing choreographer, and Mark [Ballas] is extremely creative.
SW: Show producers always liked to make you out to be a huge tomboy. How much of a tomboy are you in real life and how does that affect the way you approach dance?
CH: Well, I grew up with five brothers so in many ways, my mentality is tomboy like. I don’t cry over the usual things, I click easier with guys (although I still love my girlfriends), drama doesn’t come into my life very much. But I still love the girly things: I love to curl my hair, I love make-up, and watching chick flicks. Plus I grew up dancing which is extremely feminine.
SW: What projects are you working on?
CH: Right now I have a dance line at Discount Dance coming out next month and I started a company called Dance Like a Star Vacations…. [I’m also] working on a few other things!
SW: And a few randoms to close it out. So, the song that’s most likely to get stuck in your head?
CH: I’m not a Rob Thomas fan and somehow those Matchbox Twenty songs could always get stuck in my head and I’d have a hard time getting them out.
SW: If you could perform only one style of dance for the rest of your life, it would be what?