Can you believe it? I can't believe it! Thanks so much for your support and votes. I honestly am still in shock. It's pretty crazy.
I'm super-proud of Kellie. To me, what's more important than winning is just the relief knowing that we did good and that I gave her the right thing to help her shine. That's the thing that I worry about and care about.
I felt like there was a missing ingredient with Kellie during the season, and Carrie Ann brought it up during our samba when she said, "You're sharp, but I'm not connecting with you. I'm not feeling the emotion." And that stuck with me. I could see where she was coming from and I didn't want that to be a reason why Kellie couldn't win. So for the finale, I wanted that freestyle, our last dance people could vote for, to be one where people who were saying, "She's a good dancer, but I'm not feeling anything" to go, "Wow. That was so moving. I love her and I want her to win." That's why the song was perfect. It was seeing beneath the bright ray of sunshine, which she is, and seeing that vulnerability. Allowing people in to feel something with you and be in the moment — that's one of the things that makes dancing great. Regardless of the result, that night was special and I'll never forget it.
Our freestyle never went that well in dress rehearsal and rehearsal. There was always a misstep. I was so happy and elated that it went as well as it did on the show. That was the first time I felt like it was just the two of us there. There were no nerves or inhibitions. It was one of those moments where when people ask you why you dance, you go, "That's why." It's going to that place of no mind, where you're not thinking, you're just doing and you can feel the audience with you. You can sense the feeling in the room. When we finished, I looked over and I started crying. I tried not to, but I couldn't! My mom was in the audience and I hadn't seen her in a long time, so seeing her just brought me to tears.
I knew I was taking a risk by stripping the dance down, but I just felt like Kellie's strengths are her core, her flexibility and her lines. It's funny — during the season, she said to me, "I wish you could teach me a dance that suits me." I said, "That dance does exist and it's the freestyle and it's a very important dance." I knew I had to do something that was slow and meaningful rather than compete with Jacoby's charisma, and Zendaya's natural dance ability and slickness, and Aly's quirkiness and athleticism.
Honestly, I did feel at times that we should be doing something bigger. Since they've introduced the super-sized freestyle last season, I think it's easy to forget that it's just an option and it's easy to feel obligated to do something huge and extravagant. After I told the producers who handle the set production my plan, they were like, "Are you sure you don't want to add anything?" And I had a little bit of doubt. I do love big productions. I was thinking about the hammock thing and some other things, but I felt like I would be doing those things for the sake of doing them and not because they made sense. So I trusted my instinct. The super-sized element was going to be the emotion. There are performances where you're giving out the energy and there are performances where you draw people in. I wanted to go for the latter. I knew that everybody else would be shooting the energy out.
I thought everyone's freestyles were great and really suited who they are. Everyone brought it and we were all feeling that it was anyone's game. We don't know who the public's voting for. It was very much about doing your thing, putting it all out there and letting what will be to be. It's definitely one of the best finals I've ever been part of and I think it was super-tight all the way.
My neck is good! But I was watching our freestyle and my feet was coming off the floor when Kellie was leaning forward with her feet around my neck, and that could've gone so wrong had my feet come completely off! But it's fine. I took care of my body this season. I iced a lot. My doctor told me that if people iced more, they'd be out of business. But he said people don't know the power of icing — something so simple — and it solves so many problems. Inflammation causes so many injuries. I also juiced a lot this season — kale, beet, celery, carrot and a bunch of green stuff. It really helped me stay strong and healthy and mentally clear. I will admit that I deviated from that last week. We were exhausted — we were doing 14-hour days every day last week. We would be there until midnight. I don't drink caffeinated drinks and I was hitting the double juice! I had a lot of Red Bull. Maybe that's why my neck wasn't feeling so hot on Sunday!
I don't know where Kellie's going to put her trophy, but I'm going to put mine with the others. Now I have double bookends! Where I keep the trophies, there are four shelves. I'm going to take the cupboard door off the bottom one so it'll fit with the other three.
As for next season, I don't know yet if I'm coming back. We'll see. I don't want to be the guy who says, "I'm not coming back" and then I come back — which is what happened this season! I already did it once, so I'm not going to do that again. I love the show and I always want to be part of it in some way. It's a huge part of my life. It's hard for me to say at this moment. There are so many other factors and the new season is a while away. I feel like right now, next season is possibly in the future for me. But this season just ended and I just want to enjoy this. This season has been very special for me. I'm so glad I did it and I'm even more grateful that I met Kellie and experienced this with her.
Next season, as you know, will just be once a week. I think it will be good because it's going to be jam-packed. When I watch other reality shows, I'm not a fan of the results shows. There's a lot of filler, but I have to say ours are awesome. And I'm not just saying that because I'm on it. I really feel like we really put on a great show with fantastic performances, and we hear wonderful stories about wonderful, extraordinary people, like Brilynn. So I feel like the show being once a week will make it even tighter and more entertaining. There won't be much filler or vamping to get to a commercial break to make sure we fill two hours. It will be back-to-back action. I'm not 100 percent how they'll eliminate people. Maybe they'll do what they did in the first season. Who knows? We have the best producers, so I'm sure they'll come up with something.
What's next for me is a new project I'm working on and I can't tell you too much about yet. It lies at the core of all of what I do — dancing, performing, connecting with people. That's all I can say now. I'll be working with Meryl Davis and Charlie White this summer on their Olympic routine and I'm also doing something with the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra at the Disney Concert Hall. I've got some other stuff planned too. But I'll be honest — I'm very excited about a beach and a margarita right now. I'm not sure when that will happen, but I'm excited for when that day comes!
Hope I didn't bore you this season. Thanks so much for reading and your support again. Have a great summer!
Dancing's Derek Hough: This Season Was Very Special