When free agent basketball star Iman Shumpert watched “Dancing with the Stars” co-star JoJo Siwa, he thought there was no way he was going to win the season 30 mirror ball trophy.
“I don’t go into stuff trying to lose, though,” Shumpert says with a laugh. “I felt like it would be tough. Anybody who saw JoJo dance would have felt the same: I couldn’t beat someone who could go so seamlessly from ballroom female to male style. That takes talent.
“To watch that live, I would get lost in her dances. I thought I couldn’t give a better show than that. I’m not dipping my back, for example.”
Week six was a game changer for him and his professional partner, Daniella Karagach.
“Dani incorporated lifts into the choreography, and we found our niche. It was then that I thought we had a good chance,” Shumpert says.
The partners will show off their mirror ball trophy at “Dancing with the Stars Live!” at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at the Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix.
The tour will feature dancers from the TV series, including Karagach, Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Artem Chigvintsev, Sasha Farber, Pasha Pashkov, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater and Britt Stewart, performing the cha-cha, foxtrot, salsa and tango.
“The tour is a lot of fun,” Shumpert says. “It’s nonstop dancing. I never thought I’d see an audience who could watch so much dance. ‘Dancing with the Stars Live!’ has a little Broadway to it, a little acting to it. It’s serious. It has its vulnerable moments and its funny host moments. Emma (Slater) is one of the best people I’ve ever heard on the mic. She has the (English) accent, and she has great crowd control.”
Shumpert says it’s been nice to get to know the dancers on a personal level — beyond the 5-second responses to Tyra Banks’ questions on the air.
“We do meet and greets,” he says. “We’re taking a bus. There are a lot of Instagram stories about the bus. It’s always a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
“It’s been especially cool to link up with Jimmie (Allen) again. It gave me comfort just knowing I’m not the only one on the tour trying to figure it out.”
Country star and Grammy nominee Allen appeared on a few dates during the tour.
This is a busy year for Shumpert. He’s dropping an album and slowly rolling out his record label and associated artists and producers. He’s considering a podcast because, when he appears on other shows, the comments are favorable.
Shumpert is reviving his clothing line and rebuilding it with “prestigious” high designers.
“It’s nice having been able to dive all the way into it,” he says. “It’s also nice coming home and being around the people who really, really know me.”
As for the album — which Shumpert has tentatively dubbed “This Car Ain’t Stolen” — he says the music will resonate because of his honesty.
“I used a car because getting pulled over is such a common ground for Black men in America,” Shumpert says.
“When you talk about that idea, you can play on that in a lot of different ways, especially with rap. I just wanted to give that little snapshot to open people’s minds. I used to be the kid who was in the van with slider doors. People would think that because I’m riding with my brothers, we’re looking for trouble, whether it’s a drive-by or a joyride.”
Shumpert says the album will address sheltering himself from trouble, how his mother speaks to him, his grandmother and what upsets him.
“I never really broke things down that raw before,” he says. “Before, everything has been an EP or a mixtape. This is me owning all the beats and all the rights to everything. I’m going to present it, shoot the videos and see where it goes.”
“Dancing with the Stars Live!”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12
WHERE: Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix
COST: Tickets start at $38.50
INFO: 602.379.2800, arizonafederaltheatre.com, dwtstour.com