Hey everyone!

Thanks for your votes!

We did it! I'm so happy for Marilu. I thought our Viennese waltz went perfectly. I really wanted her to experience that feeling of triumph. I think that the song was great, the dance was great, the whole atmosphere was great for Marilu. The fact that the dance was for her mom made it even more special. My new approach of trying to let her feel out the dance worked. I was really happy for her to experience that. That was really all I wanted from last week. The judges' reactions were amazing, something I don't think either of us expect. She loves this experience and she loves the show, so I was truly thrilled for her to finally have her moment.

The funny thing is, I found the song we danced to, "Surprise Yourself" by Jack Garratt, and the producers wanted to use a different song. I asked why and they were like, "No one knows it." But I stood my ground. It was the perfect song for Marilu and the dance. Plus, even if the song is not well known, people might search for it afterward and make it well known. It only helps everyone. We got so many messages afterward asking us what the song was. It was the same thing with my freestyle with Kellie Pickler -- no one knew that song either, but everyone asked afterward about it.

After having that breakthrough, I think it kind of takes the pressure off of us. I know it does for me personally. I feel like a broken record, but I really just wanted her to experience that joy. I think Marilu is no longer scared of disappointing me! All jokes aside, we talked about it. I said I understand and I said, "This is your experience. This is your journey. I'm here to help. I'm here to serve. This is yours. I want you to own it." I think she gets it now and we're good. I don't want her to be scared of me! I am probably the least scary person in the world!


I'm going to try to take the same approach this week and let her feel out the dance again. But it's a harder with the cha-cha because there's more visible technique with the dance that you can see. This is one of the first dances where her legs will be exposed. So we're working on refining her legs. From a technical aspect, I want her to work on the spotting, the settling of the weight on the floor, the hip action, the turns and making sure she keeps it small. But as an overall dance, I want to try to find moments where she can enjoy it and focus on the technique of the dance without over-thinking it.

We had a little song drama this week too. There was some miscommunication and we thought we had a salsa because our song is so salsa-like. So for all of Tuesday, we were prepping a salsa, and then they were like, "No, you have a cha-cha." We're calling it a "chalsa." The song is so salsa that I feel like I have to incorporate some salsa moves into it. Plus, it's Latin Week, so we want to make it fun and vibrant.

Thanks for reading! See you Monday!

Derek