After a two-year hiatus, Peta Murgatroyd is back on Dancing with the Stars — and is partnered with former NBA star (and the tallest guy in the ballroom) Lamar Odom. Here, Peta details their journey thus far – the challenges, the laughs they share, and what it’s going to take to win!
Lamar Odom, the gentle giant, is my partner! There were so many thoughts running through my mind when I found out that we were paired together. What will it be like dancing, let alone standing, next to somebody so tall? His height is something that I have not experienced before. How am I going to make this work? He is about a foot and 3 inches taller than me and I’ve seen past competitors on the show struggle with extreme height differences. What techniques will I use on him? How am I going to make him graceful? Faced with so much uncertainty, there was one thing that I knew for sure: my teaching would have to change.
I was nervous to meet Lamar for the first time and it was really intimidating! He is so tall and I felt so small looking up at him, but I instantly saw what a sweet soul he really is. He gave me the biggest hug, as he always does when he sees me, and showed me that huge smile of his that lights up the entire room. I knew that his smile was going to be one of our best weapons.
The wonderful thing about working with an athlete, especially one as competitive as Lamar, is the athlete mentality. He is in it to win it! Lamar calls me his Kobe Bryant and says that I am going to make him look good on the dance floor. We’re a team and he’s taking this seriously. The mirror ball is the equivalent of a championship ring to him. He’s ready to win it in LA again!
Studio practice has been great over the past few weeks because when Lamar really wants something, he goes for it. Despite the challenges we are facing in regard to height, he is working really hard to compensate in other ways. There are some things I cannot change, which has been a struggle. His ballroom frame won’t look perfect because his arms are just too high and long for me. With other partners, I was able to maneuver them around the floor and help their arms if they were to get tired and drop them. With Lamar, I can’t do anything. He is a big, heavy guy and I physically can’t move him..haha!
Our foxtrot on premiere night couldn’t have gone any better. I am beyond proud of him. Lamar was extremely nervous the whole day but kept it together and finished the dance with a smile on his face. It’s always harder when your celebrity doesn’t have that “performing experience.” We, as the professionals, have the added job of layering in that performance skill which Lamar took on really well!
As a person, Lamar is chill and it’s a refreshing energy to have in our rehearsal room! 🙂 He is genuine, honest and sincere.
The scores last night were harsh and I know they affected Lamar because he has that win or lose mentality. He told me that he felt like he lost and it broke my heart. I told him that there was no losing and only growing on Dancing with the Stars. This show is about the celebrity’s journey of growth and how they can overcome their fears and insecurities. Lamar has an incredible story and I can’t wait for America to get to know him like I have.
So, we will work our butts off this week to come back strong and show everyone that he can and deserves to be here.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.