Hey everyone!

Thanks for your votes!

I thought our paso doble went very well and I was really happy with Marilu's performance. Right before we went on, we were going over the routine and she was kind of forgetting certain things. She was like, "Don't worry, don't worry." I was like, "I'm not worried. You got it," even though inside I was pooping my pants. I'm not gonna lie — I was so nervous! But she came through like she always does. The whole piece was big and felt nice and appropriate for the night. I can see what the judges are saying, and that is all stuff we're working on.

This week is going well so far. I was actually sick last week, so I've been recovering the past couple of days. I had a chest cough, which made me really nervous about my my voice, especially with Hairspray coming up in a couple weeks. But I'm feeling a lot better now.

I'm going to take a different approach this week with Marilu. I want to have the movement come from her and have it be authentic and organic from her body. I'll just be there to guide it. I want her to feel nonrestrictive and to feel like she can dance. We had two intense dances back-to-back, the tango and the paso, and I think the intensity was misinterpreted as stiffness in her mind. So with the Viennese waltz, we're going to crank up the fluidity and the softness.

What I've learned as well is, I give her all this information and with her memory, she holds all the information, so she's carrying all this stuff in her mind. If you think about all of it, it's heavy — where's my arm going? My leg? My fingers? My elbows? My heels? You think about all that instead of embodying how the dance feels and putting your mind to your body so your body just does it. I want to take that load off and that weight she's carrying. I'm going to be very minimal in the things I say this week. It's a different strategy. I know I have a certain formula that has worked for me really well with my partners in the past. With her, it's different, so I'm adjusting and adapting, and hopefully we can make it happen this week.


The theme is Most Memorable Year, and Marilu picked one of the most pivotal moments in her life: when her mother died. The last thing her mom told her before she passed away was, "Don't hold back." In that moment, she turned her life around. She dedicated her herself to health and her life changed in that moment. Our song is "Surprise Herself" by Jack Garratt. It's a beautiful song and very fitting.

Thanks for all your messages about our performance Tuesday! It was a fun project Lindsey Stirling and I started a couple months ago, when we wrote the song. Then we shot the video and it was awesome that it morphed into this number. I thought the split screen thing was something cool to do because I don't think most people know I drum. I actually drummed before I danced. Playing drums is how I got into dancing because of the percussion and beats. I don't know if I'll do another performance like that again this season, but I'm grateful we got to perform this one.

I have to say this season so far has been really amazing. The vibe has been different and I think the shows so far have been great. I thought the way they handled Julianne and Amber's misunderstanding was good. It wasn't drawn-out or overdramatized, and they both apologized and handled everything really well. I totally understand the celebrities' sensitivities to the judges' critiques. I also think far, far, far worse things have been said to celebrities that were never acknowledged. But you have to realize it's not personal; it's solely about the dance. I'm glad it's all water under the bridge between them now. I really like Amber. She's super sweet and super nice, and she's an empowering role model. I think the whole thing kind of goes to show how little drama there is this season — you know, outside of the first night. I feel like there's usually more drama and sensationalized stuff. But everything's been pretty low-key so far.

Well, except for Sasha and Emma's engagement! How awesome was that? I had no idea he was doing that. I don't think anyone else besides Tom knew either. I freaked out. I saw the clips afterward and I was like, "Man, I look like an idiot here all over their moment!" We are all so happy for them. They're such wonderful people and such a sweet couple. Mazel tov again, guys!

Thanks for reading! See you Monday!

Derek