Any junior pro, who was cast on Season 1 of Dancing With the Stars: Juniors, was thrilled for the opportunity to launch what will hopefully be a long-running series. For Rylee Arnold, it was a dream come true, but she had a little more pressure on her shoulders as the youngest sister to Dancing With the Stars pro and Season 25 Mirrorball Trophy winner, Lindsay Arnold.
Before she could even film the show, Rylee had to nail the Juniors audition that took place in February.
"It was really nerve-wracking because all I wanted was to be on the show," Rylee told Dance Dish recently. "It was one of my dreams because Lindsay was on it. I gave myself a little talk and said, 'Breathe, Rylee.' I also had friends there and I was acting normal with them, so it helped calm my nerves."
Cast members were notified a few months later, but Rylee wasn't the first person in her family to find out the good news.
"One of the producers texted Lindsay about the news. Lindsay called my mom to check to see if she had gotten an email. I was at dance at the time," she said. "When I got home, my mom showed me the email and it said that I made it. I was so happy and I was screaming. We called Lindsay right away."
Rylee was paired up with Lindsay as her mentor on the show. It was a natural fit for the Arnold sisters.
"She's really talented and she has had a really good time with all of her partners," Rylee explained. "I wanted my partner to feel the same way with me and be happy, no matter what happened."
Rylee was given black•ish star Miles Brown as her celebrity partner. He had experience in hip-hop, but ballroom was a whole different ballgame. Big sis had some good advice for the first-time pro.
"Lindsay said that if he's having a hard time, he will practice and get better. Be nice to him," Rylee shared. "And no matter what happens, be happy with the outcome because you are lucky to just be on the show."
The biggest challenge #TeamLindsay faced was a lack of rehearsal time. Miles held down two jobs this summer — black•ish and DWTS: Juniors.
"There are child labor laws in California and it limits the time everyone can work. We had four hours of rehearsal a day and two hours of interviews. Miles had been using all of his time on black•ish as a part of his contract. Whatever time he had left — which was nothing because he used up all of his hours — we would send him a video from rehearsal." she said. "He had to practice at home. It was super scary because I didn't know if he would know the dance by show day. But I knew he was determined and wanted to win it."
The team had to be a bit creative when it came to choreography because Rylee was taller than Miles. Lindsay cooked up her magic and made sure they looked great together on that stage. With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as her Season 26 DWTS partner, this was an easy fix in comparison.
"I loved learning Lindsay's choreography because she's an amazing choreographer. She makes a celebrity and the pro look good. In the dance you can't even tell, she created movement that didn't make me look taller than him," praised Rylee. "She did it perfectly."
Working with family always has its moments of frustration, but the Arnold sisters took it in stride during the rehearsal process.
"She was way harder on me because she can," Rylee giggled. "With Miles, she was a little softer, which was weird because she's usually strict. I laughed when she got super mad at me."
The best part of the summer was family time. The entire Arnold family was not only rooting on #TeamLindsay on Juniors, but they were also supporting sister Jensen Arnold during her Season 15 So You Think You Can Dance journey. It's a special moment in time few dance families have ever experienced.
"We were happy and proud of each other. I love that Jensen was on So You Think You Can Dance because she wasn't sure she was going to audition again. She believed in herself and she did amazing. She came in second on the show," she summed up. "All three sisters were doing something with dance in California. It was so much fun sharing that together."
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