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Maurice Greene: All the Right Moves

"Dancing With the Stars" keeps this former track star on his toes

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Once you’ve been deemed a human locomotive, you’d think anything that requires speed and agility would be a breeze. But former track star and current “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Maurice Greene says don’t believe the hype. In fact, the 34-year-old even confessed that, like any sport, ballroom dancing has been kicking his butt, but he’s keeping his eyes on the prize—and his rivals. ESSENCE.com caught up with one of the fastest men in the world to discuss performing the centipede and the beauty of freestyling.

ESSENCE.COM: The “DWTS” competition is no joke. Did you have to prepare or are you a natural dancer with a signature move?
Well, I go to the clubs and dance but I’m not a ballroom-dancing machine at all. At a club you can do whatever, but choreography must be on point, from the footsteps to making sure you hold your arm right. No freestyle will help you in this dance contest. Maurice Greene’s signature move? No , not at all. I just try to make sure my personality shows and have fun.

ESSENCE.COM: So Warren Sapp mentioned that you broke out doing the centipede. What possessed you to go that old-school?
(Laughs.) There was a part of the choreography when I was sliding on my knees and I’m thinking, What am I going to do until Cheryl comes back over to me? During practice I showed Cheryl the centipede, and she agreed I should try it, and it worked out well for the performance. One judge didn’t like it too much, but the fans loved it. The hardest part is that you have to make the dance yours and put your personality into it while still keeping the choreography tight.

ESSENCE.COM: Has your athleticism served you well in this competition?
(Laughs.) No, not in the least. I hadn’t worked out in so long; it’s almost like the first time. As a track and field runner, I was always taught to point your toes up, but when you’re dancing, you have to point them down. It’s hard getting used to that because my toes are always up and I have to put them down. It looks and sounds easy enough, but it’s tough.

ESSENCE.COM: Which one of the dancers is keeping you on your toes?

GREENE: The judges really like [Warren Sapp], but I’m really keeping my eye on all of them because you never know.  I wish I could add the whop or the Kid ‘N Play kickback to one of my routines or to the show.

ESSENCE.COM: And speaking of toes, how are you making out dancing in heels?

GREENE: We have these steel-toe shoes for dancing  and  they are killing my feet. I don’t know how you [women] do it. It’s definitely the toes. I’m like Warren, if I could, I would freestyle all day, every day.