'DWTS': Carole Baskin On Being Told Dancing Was a 'Sin' Growing Up
Carole Baskin is gearing up for her next performance onDancing With the Stars, and she plans on coming out with a roar. The big cat activist opened up to ET about her upcoming dance, her dedication to rehearsal and why being on the show is so much different than anything she’s done before.
Baskin and her pro partner, Pasha Pashkov, joined ET via video chat, where they teased how they’re getting ready for their Disney Night dance — a Samba set to “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King. The two have been working together for several hours a day during rehearsals, with Baskin then going back to her apartment to keep practicing in her makeshift studio.
“I put everything in the second bedroom that would go and the rest of it in the hall,” Baskin told ET’s Lauren Zima. “Every 15 minutes, I would go through the routine as many times as I can and then I put my feet up for 15 minutes and then I go back and do 15 minutes.”
Baskin said she realizes that not everyone else on the show is putting in that same kind of energy, but explained, “I think mostly what it says is, I have the furthest to go. I have to try harder than anybody else.”
While she managed to avoid being the first celeb to get the axe this season — that dubious honor goes to NBA icon Charles Oakley — Baskin and Pashkov have placed in the bottom the first two weeks.
That being said, Baskin is the first to admit that dancing isn’t something that comes naturally; it’s something she was actively discouraged from doing — even socially — for most of her childhood.
“I went to a Christian school, so at home I couldn’t dance, at school I couldn’t dance. [There] was no part of my life when I was allowed to dance,” Baskin shared. “I was taught that it was a sin, so it was something where I tried to resist it in every way.”
“And I think it shows today,” she added with a laugh. “I really have a hard time embracing it.”
Despite her unfamiliarity with dancing and her admitted discomfort with being in the spotlight, Baskin has made it clear that she’s willing to put all that to the side for her life’s goal and singular cause: bringing attention to the plight of big cats in America.
“The way that I’ve overcome that is that this is the way that we keep the cats in the spotlight,” she explained. “I have to overcome everything that I ever felt or believed about dancing if I’m going to stay in this for any length of time. And so it’s worth it to me to keep trying to do that.”
She’s also made cats a predominant theme of her time on the show. For her and Pashkov’s first number, they danced a Paso Doble to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Their second routine was a Viennese waltz set to Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat.” With the Lion King tune, it will be her third cat-themed dance of the season.
“I really am single-focused, and I think that has led to the success that I’ve had in different areas in my life because I do just like laser-focus on something and only do that,” she explained of her dedication to her cause. “I believe that you can only do one thing really well. Pasha is an amazing dancer because that’s where he puts his focus. I think each of us has an ability to find to do what we do best.”
“I can tell you that dancing is not what my focus is going to be after this season ends,” Baskin laughed. “But it’s where it is right now.”
While she’s been in Los Angeles, focusing on the show and working tirelessly in rehearsals, Baskin has been away from her Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida. It’s been hard for the activist, but she’s managed to stay as involved and connected as possible.
“It’s the longest I’ve been away for sure, and I really miss seeing the cats and being among them,” she shared. “But we do live presentations of Facebook with the cats every day, and so I go on Facebook and I follow around our keepers as they do their evening meds and the snacks and their feeding and their keeper tours and all of that.”
“I’m following them online so I’m able to see the cats the way our fans see them and that’s been interesting,” Baskin added.
Check out Baskin and Pashkov’s Lion King samba when Dancing With the Stars‘ Disney Week kicks off on Monday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. In the meantime, tune into Entertainment Tonight on Monday for more from the dance duo.
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