By Catherine Hathaway
Lindsey Stirling is a master multitasker. Onstage, the Gilbert native plays the violin like a champ and captivates audiences with her unique EDM (Electronic Dance Music) style on a traditionally classic instrument.
Offstage, she is literally dancing from project to project. Recently, she was balancing grueling rehearsals for her winter tour, Warmer in the Winter, as well as working around the clock to hold her leading position on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and she couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s exhausting. I’m not going to lie,” Stirling admitted. “Yesterday, I did five hours of Dancing with the Stars rehearsal, and then I worked for three and a half hours with my choreographer for tour. My mind and my body are so exhausted by the end of these days. I haven’t really felt like this in a long time.”
The performer and her dance partner, two-time Mirrorball Trophy champion Mark Ballas, were favorites for the coveted Dancing with the Stars award, pulling high scores every week. In the November 21 finals, she took second place.
“I love that we get to be so creative,” Stirling said. “I know my favorite moments are right when I finish a routine and we’re like, ‘Ah, we did it!’ That’s such a high. It’s such a high to work on something so hard for a week and then go out there, be terrified, and then pull it off.”
And work hard she does. On October 29, Stirling went to urgent care for an injury that threatened her stint on the show. To her fans’ delight, she pulled through and knocked out her Paso Doble to her song “Roundtable Rival,” for which the pair scored a 27 out of 30 points from the judges.
“Mark and I have a really good time,” Stirling said. “We laugh a ton. Our rehearsals, they’re exhausting, and we work so, so hard, but at the same time it’s still a lot of fun.”
Although she’s no stranger to dance, grooving her way to the top of the Dancing with the Stars scoreboard is not quite as easy as the self-taught dancer and violinist thought.
“I thought, to be honest, going into the show I would have this edge, but it’s not as much the case,” Stirling said. “In a way, I am self-taught and I’ve just kind of figured out how to do things and how to do them while playing violin, and it turns out I do a lot of things incorrectly… And so Mark kind of had to untrain a lot of really terrible habits. It’s amazing. I’m learning so much that I feel is actually going to start to affect my performances.”
She will showcase her newfound technique during a show at the Comerica Theatre on December 23, the last stop on her Warmer in the Winter tour to promote her holiday album of the same name.
“It’s such a different show for me,” Stirling said. “It’s such a different album for me. You know, a lot of times I like to consider my previous shows as theatricality meets an EDM show. It has really heavy lighting and big screens that are LED and flashy, but this one is going to be… a lot softer, a little more pixie dust on it, a little classic-feeling.”
Dancing with the Stars led to Stirling’s decision on an opening act for her tour. Ballas is one half of the band Alexander Jean, which pairs him with his wife, BC Jean. Stirling went to the couple’s performance and was blown away.
“It just happened really organically,” Stirling recalled. “I know my fans are going to love it. He will be actually opening the show, and then I might pull him on the stage for a couple moments during my set as well. Maybe we’ll make a little break in the music where the band plays and we’ll pull him out and we’ll dance or something. I really think the audience will get a kick out of that.”
She hopes fans appreciate her hard work and passion for the project and holiday season. Stirling wants her music to connect families and make memories for them to relive when they listen to her music.
“I feel like Christmas songs, more than any other kind of music, is attached to memories, and I like to think of them almost as little time capsules for memories,” Stirling said. “I hear certain Christmas songs, and they immediately transport me back to memories with my family and, you know, traditions.”
Growing up in Gilbert, Stirling’s family was passionate about the holiday season. The Mesquite High School alum recalls caroling with her family every year and baking treats for her neighbors. Her incredible bond with her family was strengthened through caroling in the mild Arizona winters and the music they shared.
“Music was really important to my parents and my family. And teaching us to appreciate it and to sing, and the fact that music brings people together, was very much a part of my family culture,” Stirling said. “That was a fun thing we did every year, and it was great because it wasn’t cold outside, so we could.”
When she went caroling with her family, Stirling fondly remembers singing her favorite songs, “Carol of the Bells” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” She never considered that other families didn’t carol. It was always such a big part of her childhood holidays.
“Maybe my Christmas music will be able to preserve memories for other people and help other people create traditions,” Stirling said. “That is such a cool thought, and I’m really excited hoping that my music ends up in homes with families.”