Derek Hough Derek Hough

Hey everyone!

Thanks for your votes!

Amy is doing a lot better. Even on Monday she was feeling good. I can't believe we got a 40. We never ever expected that, especially with the mishap with the stool. I was supposed to kick the stool and Amy was supposed to catch it with her leg and pull it up, but the stool didn't go over, so I had to pull it back myself. I'm not sure if the judges didn't notice it or what. I guess you can say it was an unfortunate moment and not an actual misstep. 

I really loved choreographing that routine for Amy because the Argentine Tango is about the legs and showing the kicks and flicks, so I was really pumped to have her legs be the focus. But the 40 was a nice surprise. I've said for a few seasons that the scores are not the end all be all. The scores never cross my mind anymore. You can't control them. It is what it is. It's always about the dance and how you feel about it. Amy was excited about the 40, of course. She was like, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" She did an amazing job. We did our thing right before we went out there. I thought the Dance Duel was fantastic as well. James did a great job partnering with Amy. I'm very proud of them.

It's crazy to think that the season is almost over. This week, I have the mindset of, "Let's approach this with Week 1 attitude and a Week 9 skill set." This is the time when everyone's feeling the pressure, like, "Oh, we can win. It's so close." You put all this pressure on yourself and you forget why the hell you're doing this in the first place. It's ultimately not about winning. I feel like people think I say that because I've won. But the truth is, part of the reason I started winning was because I stopped making that my motivation. I feel like I took that pressure off and it freed me up to just enjoy the process each season with my partner. I'm trying to do it. I'm not saying I'm perfect or it always works because I go through times where I put so much pressure on myself and I want to crawl in a ball and go, "I can't do this!" Especially right now with tour rehearsals and the Macy's dance this week, it can feel impossible. I'm not complaining — I'm a little overwhelmed, but I'm trying to keep cool and keep my head on. One of my favorite expressions is, "Keep your head when everybody else is losing theirs."

This week we have two dances. For the jazz, we have a weird, traditional remix song. We haven't really started on the jazz yet. But the quickstep, we have something special up our sleeve. I don't know if it's ever been done before. Amy is dancing with brand spankin' new legs. We've all seen this before, but in a completely different context. But in this routine, it's absolutely remarkable. We're able to do stuff that we never would've been able to do with her other feet. It was my idea at the beginning, but we weren't really sure if it would work. But we decided to try it and then we were both like, "Oh, my gosh! Wow! This is incredible!" We just lost our minds for a second. I hope I'm not overselling this too much, but I am really excited about it. I'll just say this: None of our dances have been traveling dances, if you've noticed. So think about that!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Abby Lee Miller. Here's my thing with her. I was fortunate to be brought up with mentors and teachers with constant encouragement, love and passion. It in turn created my love of dance to this day. Don't get me wrong — I've worked super hard and was super disciplined, but I was always surrounded by love and encouragement. What worries me is when you have kids who are so young and you put all this pressure on them and this false sense of "this is the most important thing in the world," that they will burn out at a certain age. They'll go, "Oh, you mean I don't have to take this and I can do something else?" They hit 16, 17, 18, and we lose these amazingly talented kids because they had these teachers who were so tough on them. 

People think of bullying as between kids, but bullying happens in every age range. You can be a great-grandma and be an absolute bully. You can be a teacher and be a bully. I think a lot of bullying happens with teachers. They take advantage of their authority and power, and bully their students. They think they're disciplining them and doing it for the good of the kids, but listen, there are ways of disciplining and getting your point across without being petty, rude and spiteful. The next generation of kids coming up in dance is incredible and so talented, and they have this amazing vocabulary of styles. But I guarantee you, if they're surrounded by negative, harsh people, at a certain point, they'll quit. I want them to have longevity. You can go across the board in anything in life, not just dance, and this would be true. I want kids to know that if they feel that stress and anxiety, they don't have to settle for that person. There are great teachers out there who are filled with love and compassion and passion and encouragement, and you'll get better results with that. It may not be immediate, but you'll get it in the distant future. Nothing good can come from screaming at kids and putting all this pressure on them.

See you Monday!