Tonight We Rumba- Nastia Liukin’s Blog for Huffington Post

Nastia Liukin for Huffington Post

Time certainly flies when you are learning how to dance. I can hardly believe it has been a week since the premiere! I have had such a blast!

Looking back at my gymnastics career, the thing that I miss the most is to be able to perform in front of a crowd and Dancing with the Stars really takes me back to the competition days as the show has given me the opportunity to be able to do that again. There is truly nothing quite like the feeling of being in front of crowd.

On premiere night, I was pretty nervous before taking center stage on that ballroom floor. After all, as of three weeks ago, I had never danced before and suddenly I was going to do it in front of a crowd and a live television audience! The second that music started, I just lost myself in the dance and like in gymnastics, if you put in the hours of training, muscle memory will take over during the competition as long as you stay calm and know that you are prepared for the performance.

I hope that you all enjoyed our Foxtrot to “New York, New York” — parts of it definitely made me feel like a Rockette! Although it is a challenge for Derek and I to be training in New York and traveling cross-country every week for the show, it has some perks. For instance, being able to rehearse at the legendary Radio City Music Hall (I still have to pinch myself to believe it).

Tonight, we will be dancing the rumba! We have worked really hard and I hope that everyone watching will enjoy it. The theme of the week is “My Jam Monday,” so I am pretty excited to have the opportunity to dance to one of my favorite Ed Sheeran songs, “Thinking Out Loud.”

This past week, I was actually on spring break from NYU, but it still turned out to be a pretty hectic week. I was fortunate enough to travel to Las Vegas this past weekend to host The All Star Games and was able to squeeze in a performance of the Michael Jackson ONE Show by Cirque du Soleil. It was an amazing performance and I left the show feeling so inspired. The creativity that goes into each and every one of the Cirque du Soleil productions is quite unique and all of the performers are incredibly talented. It is just unbelievable what they are able to do! Their talent mixed with Michael Jackson’s classic hits made for such a memorable show.

Now it is our turn to perform — Derek and I will be taking the Dancing with the Stars stage again tonight! One of the aspects of the show that I love the most is that there is always something new happening. Every week presents a new set of challenges to each couple because everyone is doing completely different dances and styles. I am really enjoying being a part of such a charismatic cast this season. Everyone is great and to be totally honest, I am just as excited (as you are at home!) to watch all the performances live.

Derek and I are both looking forward to our performance tonight! I hope we have your continued support! I would love to connect with as many of you as possible via social media so please follow me on Twitter and Instagram and share your thoughts – tag Derek and I, and remember to use our official hashtag #TeamHoughkin to join the larger conversation.

We definitely need your continued support! Derek and I are so appreciative of all your encouragement and votes so please help us stay in the game by voting tonight: 1-855-234-5604 or http://vote-e.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/vote/season-20.

Until next week America!

DWTS Will Keep Olympic Champion Nastia Liukin On The Move

USA Today

Nastia Liukin hates being bored. That sure won’t be a problem these next few months.

Already a full-time student at NYU, the 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion will be competing with Derek Hough on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.

“Derek and I said, `We both have to be a little bit crazy to do this,'” Liukin told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, after the cast was announced.

Hough had originally planned to sit this season out because he’s performing in the New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. The 25-year-old Liukin didn’t think she could do the show because of her school schedule.

But with her and Hough both in New York, they decided they’d find a way to make it work.

Hough’s show at Radio City Music Hall is off Sundays and Mondays, so the two will fly to Los Angeles on Sunday and come home on a red-eye Monday night. Rehearsal time will be carved out of their schedules when they’re in New York.

“It makes it good that both of us are in the same boat, balancing other things,” said Liukin, who had to drop her accounting class because it meets on Mondays. “He’s such a perfectionist in everything he does, as am I, so it kind of works out well. When we’re together and rehearsing, there’s not going to be much time to waste.”

Athletes – Olympians in particular — have done well on DWTS, winning eight of the previous 19 titles. Liukin’s Beijing teammate Shawn Johnson won the Mirror Ball in 2009, while Fierce Fiver Aly Raisman finished fourth in season 16.

Known for her elegance and grace as a gymnast, Liukin would seem to be a shoo-in. But it won’t be that easy, she said.

“I think people assume I’ve taken dance classes or done all this ballet. I’ve never taken a ballet class in my life!” said Liukin, whose mother, Anna, was a world champion in rhythmic gymnastics.

“It definitely helps when you kind of know how to move. But it’s not like I know how to do the salsa or anything.”

Liukin’s love of fashion is well known – she’s a familiar face at New York’s Fashion Week and she used to design her leotards – and she’s excited to see what the costume designers have in mind for her.

But don’t expect to see her wearing those risqué outfits favored by another Hough family member.

“I’m 25, but at the same time I know my following and that little girls look up to me,” Liukin said. “That’s something very important to me, to keep the same image I’ve had all these years.”

Especially since she’s still involved in gymnastics.

Liukin created the Nastia Liukin Cup to showcase up-and-coming gymnasts. (Reigning Olympic champion Gabby Douglas was fourth at the inaugural meet.) Now in its sixth year, it will be held March 6 at AT&T Stadium.

The American Cup, a World Cup event, is the next day.

“To have it be at AT&T Stadium, I know when I walk in, it’s going to be surreal,” said Liukin, who grew up in Dallas. ”

“I wanted this year to be extra special, not just because it’s my hometown but to compete at a stadium,” she said. “You don’t know if they’ll ever get the opportunity to do that again.”

As Liukin knows, when opportunities present themselves, you find a way to take advantage of them.