By Sandy Cohen Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Buzz Aldrin has done the moonwalk, but the cha-cha isn’t coming quite so easy.
The astronaut has been practicing the fast-paced Latin dance for three weeks in preparation for his debut on “Dancing With the Stars.”
“It’s not so easy when things are rapidly moving,” Aldrin, 80, said on his way to a rehearsal Friday with professional partner Ashly Costa. “I enjoy the slower music that I’m very familiar with the words and know what’s coming next.”
The 10th season of the hit ABC dance show premieres tonight. Aldrin will be competing for the mirrorball trophy against Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek, “Baywatch” babe Pamela Anderson, reality stars Kate Gosselin and Jake Pavelka, sportscaster Erin Andrews, singer Nicole Scherzinger, football star Chad Ochocinco and actors Shannen Doherty, Aiden Turner and Niecy Nash.
“This is a new field for me,” Aldrin said. “It’s going to be fun with everybody.”
The astronaut said he’s already spent some time with Lysacek, whom he described as “a very agile, coordinated artist” who’s likely to be a tough competitor in the ballroom.
“I hope when people think about voting they think about not just the most talented, energetic people with the sexiest uniforms and outfits, but who they want to see develop the next week’s dance,” Aldrin said, adding that viewers might consider the pairing of “a young, vivacious brunette who’s a very talented teacher and dancer” and “someone trying his best to execute maturity and grace.”
He said he hopes his participation on the popular program will encourage viewers to “think about space and what happened 40 years ago and be proud about that, and also begin to think about what we’re going to do in the future.”
On or off the dance floor, Aldrin said his purpose is to inspire people to think about space exploration and encourage the study of science, technology, engineering and math.
Though he’s finding the cha-cha a challenge, Aldrin said he might add dancing to the other recreational activities — snow skiing and scuba diving — he enjoys with Lois, his wife of 22 years.
Said Aldrin: “I’m sure we’ll get out and cut a rug every so often.”
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