She’s better known for her arias than her arabesques, but mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins temporarily trades singing for dancing as a contestant on Season 14 ofABC’s"Dancing With the Stars.”
Her albums, including “Rejoice,” “Believe” and “Daydream,” have sold in the millions, and she’s been featured on British shows “Dr. Who” and “Popstar to Operastar.” But her voice isn’t the only thing that gets a workout: The Welsh-born Jenkins regularly runs eight to nine miles at a stretch as she trains for an upcoming half marathon and is a big fan of Bikram yoga. She finds both disciplines good for not just staying in shape but also for building a strong foundation for singing.
Did you have any dance training prior to “Dancing With the Stars”?
When I was a child I had tap dancing lessons, and more recently I did a show in the UK (“Viva la Diva”) where I teamed up with Darcey Bussell, a [former] prima ballerina from the Royal Ballet. I had to teach her to sing, and she had to teach me to dance. But never any ballroom, never any Latin — this is completely out of my comfort zone. I’m giving it my best shot.
I’m hoping it’s going to help me with my posture. I’m so used to, as a classical singer, standing in one spot with an orchestra behind me and being pretty static. I’ve never had to move an awful lot in my shows, so this is completely different for me.
I saw some video footage of you in rehearsal with your dance partner Mark Ballas. You looked great and very comfortable in high heels.
I’m a really girlie girl, and I love shoes, so I’m finding the ballroom heels actually quite small, which is quite helpful in this situation.
You’re already in shape from running and yoga — that must be a big plus.
I’m training for a half marathon at the moment, and I tend to run at least 15K [about nine miles] once, maybe twice a week. It’s just a completely different kind of fitness when you’re doing this kind of dancing, but it’s definitely helped. And Bikram yoga has been great for flexibility and strength.
I’ve been running about three years, but I’m really not a sporty person at all. I hope I’m the example that anybody can run, because when I first started, I couldn’t run more than five minutes. Then I did my first 10K. And now I’m training for this half marathon.
What do you like about running?
I like that if you keep pushing yourself you come back stronger. I’ve also found that it keeps me at the same weight and it’s a great stress reliever; it definitely affects my mood. It’s something I can pick up wherever I am.
As long as you’ve got a good running playlist, you just put your music on and get running, On my playlist is everything and anything from Rihanna to Beyonce to Jay-Z, Eminem, things far removed from the music I perform. Never in a million years would I be on my own running playlist! It’s all high-energy, dance, that kind of thing — stuff that really makes you want to run.
Is being in shape an asset to you as a singer?
Absolutely. Your body is your instrument. For the kind of singing I do, it’s really all about core support and being strong in the stomach, and I think that the more you are fit and healthy, the better.