Professional dancer Damian Whitewood appeared in America’s consciousness as a lead dancer in “Burn the Floor” on Broadway in 2009. Since then, the now 41-year old Aussie’s feet haven’t stopped moving. Examiner caught up with the affable Whitewood earlier this month to get the scoop on his role in “Paul Mitchell Shall We Dance on Ice,” the third special in the Colgate Skating Series, which airs Feb. 27 on ABC and features the combined talents of a star-studded lineup of dancers and ice dancers. He also filled fans in what it was like to work with American icon Pamela Anderson on “Dancing with the Stars” season 10, whether he’d like to take another turn around the ballroom as a pro coach, and the type of music that’s most likely to get stuck in his head.
Sherry Wight: You took part in “Paul Mitchell Shall We Dance on Ice.” How did you get involved, and what’s your role?
Damian Whitewood: Yeah it was great to be involved! I was back in Australia doing “Dancing with the Stars” when I was approached to be a part of “Paul Mitchell Shall We Dance on Ice” and I knew I’d be back in the states for the second half of the year after wrapping the series down under, so it was a perfect fit! To partner with Chelsie Hightower as one of the two ballroom dancing couples for the show just made it even sweeter.
SW: Would you do it again?
DW: I would love to be a part of it again. The whole production was really well done, from all the crew to the sponsors involved, then you go and add all that amazing talent to the ice. Phenomenal. My appreciation for ice dancing was taken to another level and all of the dancers were so inspiring. The show has was definitely a highlight for the year.
SW: Was it a little scary mixing ice with dance?
DW: Scared of the ice is an understatement. I have never skated on ice in my life! I need two feet firmly on the ground to perform…. [I come] from Perth, Western Australia where I don’t think it has ever snowed in my lifetime of living there. It’s fair to say skating wasn’t one of the first things your parents would push you into doing. It sure would have been a lot cooler than dancing in a studio on a 110-degree Celsius day. I do love the concept of mixing ice with dance and to see it done on such an elite level really does bring the two worlds together nicely. The way they use the ice with the momentum of movement they create is truly amazing to see and the music just adds the finishing touches to their performances so perfectly.
SW: Any highlights to share?
DW: [We had] a dance floor and stage set to one end of the ice rink [and] we were able to bring the two worlds of ballroom dancing and ice dancing together perfectly and showcase dance through various routines in groups and solo performances. A definite highlight for me was paying tribute to the legendary Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean using the iconic music that they skated to gold with at the 1984 Olympics scoring a perfect score from all the judges: “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel.
SW: Talk about what being part of “Burn the Floor” meant to you, both personally and professionally.
DW: “Burn The Floor” was a huge part of my life for over 10 years and something I hold dearly close to my heart. Being able to travel the world doing what you love in front of millions of people around the globe with some pretty amazing cast mates was quite a trip! From Monte Carlo to Japan, Vegas, you name it, we toured it and had a ball doing so. Doing Broadway for over a year as a lead dancer in the company was the pinnacle for myself personally and professionally. Growing up as a Ballroom dancer, Broadway always seemed a distant dream to hopefully one day live and perform on and that dream became reality thanks to “Burn The Floor” in 2009.
SW: You were only on the US-version of “Dancing with the Stars” for a single season, but you had an iconic partner. If you remember, what was your first thought when you found out you’d been paired with Pamela Anderson?
DW: My season on “Dancing with the Stars” here in the US was not long after we closed on Broadway so it was the perfect transition for me into television and a new chapter in my life. To land one of the most iconic personalities the show has ever had –Pamela Anderson– well that was just the icing on the cake. I still remember sitting in the office with all the network executives and casting and them delivering the good news. I was lost for words and thinking I am one lucky guy! The challenge was real as Pam had never danced before or learned music so we were starting from scratch on every level, but I managed to play to her strength in acting and we got on like a house on fire so it was a perfect match for the show.
SW: Would you ever want to return as a pro coach? If so, which celeb would you want to work alongside?
DW: I’d always love to return to the show here in the US as a pro since Los Angeles has become my home. As for who I’d like to partner…. [I’m] not fussy: Jessica Alba! [Laughs] The show is a well-oiled machine and is great viewing for everyone involved but what I have learned with working with the celebrities on “Dancing with the Stars” around the world is as long as they are willing to work and want to learn and are open to the process, you can’t go wrong. Well, sometimes you can, but that makes for good TV.
SW: What projects have you been working on, and what’s in the works for you in the coming months?
DW: I just [appeared] on ABC’s hit show “Agent Carter.” It [was a] great dance scene…. And who knows, maybe another partner on the next series in the US? But you will always catch me dancing somewhere around the world.
SW: To close it out, two random questions. What kind of music gets stuck in your head?
DW: The song that’s most likely to stick in my head? I love old ’80s music in the car so generally it’s along those lines. The last song I hear when exiting the car always sticks. Today, [it’s] “Let’s Dance” [by David] Bowie. Legend.
SW: Okay. And if you could perform only one style of dance for the rest of your life, it would be what?
DW: Argentine Tango. You’ll find me in Buenos Aires. Who’s coming with me?