Music and sport go together like Olympic medals and Team USA.
Just imagine watching an Opening Ceremony on mute — or an athlete on the medals podium without their national anthem playing over the loud speakers.
Even Taylor Swift knows you can’t have one without the other. And that is probably the reason why the singer recruited Team USA rhythmic gymnast Nastasya Generalova (along with three other gymnasts) to be in her latest music video for her smash single, “Shake It Off.”
Not long after, Mark Ballas released his new video, “Miss Incredible,” with an appearance by five-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Nastia Liukin.
We got the behind-the-scenes scoop on both videos when we spoke to the two athletes about the crossover craze of athletes taking over the music world.
Behind the Scenes of “Miss Incredible”
Nastia Liukin and “Dancing with the Stars” pro Mark Ballas have known each other for years. And despite the running rumor that she is always set to join the cast of the hit dance show — “never say never,” said Liukin — they have yet to work together professionally before. That is until “Mark called me a few weeks before the shoot and asked if there was any chance I would be interested in being in his video,” she recalled.
The video was for “Miss Incredible,” the second song off Ballas’ EP, “Kicking Clouds,” and was created to feature an array of women — from a trumpet-playing beauty queen to a young woman battling cancer. Ballas wanted to honor impressive women in their element as a tribute to the incredible woman who raised him.
In “Miss Incredible” we see Liukin pull off a double back handspring step-out, after showing off her impressive five Olympic medals (which she keeps at her parents’ house in Dallas). Picking them up, she said, before the video shoot was almost as difficult as dusting off her old mat skills. “It was a little bit of a process,” she remembered. “I had to fly from New York City to Dallas to get my medals, then to LA the next day,” where the shoot took place. Since it was filmed in a studio, Liukin said “there was limited space and mats, so there was only so much I could do.”
And with it being almost a year since she had done any flipping, Liukin — who said she “had never really viewed myself as ‘Miss Incredible’” said she was “flattered” to be included in the video as an accomplished gymnast. However, “I hadn’t done much gymnastics before that! That’s the only part I was a little nervous about,” she said. Luckily “the basic elements of gymnastics are like riding a bicycle. But that’s not to say I wasn’t a little sore the next day!”
When not flipping on film, Liukin, 24, spends her days hitting the gym less and the schoolbooks more. She is currently at New York University studying sports management, but still manages to make time for her sport. Earlier this year she worked as a correspondent for NBC in Sochi, Russia, during the Olympic Winter Games. “It’s definitely a little bit of a struggle at times to keep up with being a full-time student and also fulfilling all of my work obligations at the same time,” she said, “but I’m making it work.”
Now she’s working to graduate by May 2016, which would leave her with just enough time to prepare for Rio the following August, where she’ll once again be working with NBC — this time to cover gymnastics at the summer Games.