Derek Hough Went Into ‘Coach-Mode’ With Charli D’Amelio For Their Iconic ‘Dirty Dancing’ Number

Derek Hough spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about his 'Step Into... The Movies' special with Julianne Hough and how 'excited' he is for fans to see TikTok star Charli D'Amelio in their 'Dirty Dancing' number.

Charli D'Amelio Derek Hough
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Image Credit: ABC

Some of the most legendary dances in movie history are being honored by Derek and Julianne Hough in their Step Into… The Movies special, which airs March 20 on ABC. Derek and Julianne will be putting their own spin on their iconic dance and will be joined by celebrities Ariana DeBose, Charli D’Amelio, and more.

HollywoodLife got EXCLUSIVE scoop from Derek ahead of the TV special about having a total of 10 days to make this all happen. He also discussed dancing with Charli and how he had a “full-circle” moment when he met Baz Luhrmann. Read our Q&A below:

Derek Julianne Hough
Derek and Julianne Hough on ‘Step Into… The Movies.’ (ABC)

Did you feel intimidated at all taking on some of these iconic dances in these legendary films?
Derek Hough: Absolutely. I think part of it was the timeframe that we had. With these films, they had months to prepare and work with orchestras and scenes, the whole thing, and we were kind of given this challenge of 10 days. We didn’t want to just sort of recreate them completely. We wanted to reimagine them a little bit, so we’re not recreating them verbatim. It’s just sort of a nod to them. It was a lot of fun and great people came on board. We worked together and it was awesome.

Ten days?! To do multiple dances? It’d be a lot to just one!
Derek Hough: There were literally some days where we had to create a piece in half a day. You’re like, “Oh, God.” It was definitely a task for sure, but it was a huge honor and so much fun. We met Baz Luhrmann, who directed Moulin Rouge!, and obviously Kenny Ortega, who choreographed Dirty Dancing, and Rob Marshall, who directed Chicago and won an Oscar for that. Having Ariana DeBose, Charli D’Amelio… I’m really excited for people to see Charli D’Amelio because they know her from TikTok, but they haven’t seen this type of dancing from her. We had very little time with her, but I even asked her, “Hey, do you mind if I go into like coach-mode right now?” And she was like, “Yeah, absolutely.” So when I was teaching her, it was like real-life Dirty Dancing where I was teaching her the frame and the technique and the whole thing. It was really cool.

Which dance number did you feel the most pressure tackling?
Derek Hough: I think Singin’ In The Train initially because that’s one of the numbers that is very, very different from the original. It’s the way we kind of enter into the whole special. We wanted to do it in a different way. It wasn’t just “Singin’ In The Rain,” I wanted to pay homage to “Moses Supposes” and “Make Him Laugh” and “Good Morning” as well from Singin’ In The Rain. We only used “Singin’ In The Rain.” We didn’t use the other songs, so we had to find a way to give our like nod to it but not in a literal way. It was just trying to figure that out, navigate that, and tell a little story about the way we enter into this show.

Derek Hough Charli D'Amelio
Derek Hough and Charli D’Amelio dancing the iconic ‘Dirty Dancing’ number. (ABC)

Is there one that you loved doing the most?
Derek Hough: I really just enjoyed Saturday Night Fever because it was just fun. I got to dance with Jenna Dewan. It was just playful and groovy. It was just a vibe, if you will. My favorite types of styles to dance are tangos and stuff so Moulin Rouge was really special. I got to dance with my girl Hayley [Erbert] and Charity and Ashley, who are two incredible dancers as well. We had Amber Riley singing the vocals on it, which definitely gave it a totally different feel. It was really cool. And then, of course, meeting Baz Luhrmann before that. I want to make sure I do a good job with this. I think we did some cool stuff.

He’s a legendary director, and he really changed the face of movie musicals with that film at that time.
Derek Hough: He did. Before that, one of his first films was called Strictly Ballroom. It’s this really wild movie about ballroom dancing, and it’s probably the only movie or only type of entertainment that has ballroom dancing in it. Actually, Dancing with the Stars directly comes from that movie. The whole concept really came from that movie. I remember I met him and was like, “Dude, thank you. Because of your film, they created this TV show that ended up giving us such a huge break.” It was this wild full-circle moment.

If you get to do this again, is there another movie musical that you would love to tackle? 
Derek Hough: So many. That’s why when we were thinking about the title and we decided to call it Step Into… If it goes well and people like this, then we would love to do more. We want to go Step Into… Broadway or Step Into… more movies. There are so many more. For me, we kind of did the, in my opinion, low-hanging fruit. We did the super iconic ones. But there are so many more obscure ones and ones that I would love to tackle as well. To answer your question, there are so many more, and the hope is that we can if this goes well.

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