Dance pro Derek Hough, 25, and his partner Jennifer Grey, 50, earned the top spot on last week’s Dancing With the Stars season 11 performance premiere with a Viennese waltz set to “These Arms of Mine” (a song featured on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack). Below, Derek checks in for his weekly grilling.
Derek, where are you going in this photo? Do you think the rule “No shirt no shoes no service” does not apply to you?
We were actually at rehearsal and I was super sweaty and needed to change my shirt. Jennifer had hidden my clothes, though, so I was forced to walk out to the parking lot to my car for a change of clothes without a shirt on. I will get her back though. Someday, when she least expects it.
Are you aware that your belt is not exactly doing its job here?
As long as my pants are not on the ground, the belt is succeeding.
Is it annoying when paparazzi take your picture or do you love it?
There are a few photographers who have literally camped out at our rehearsal facility and so far they have been really respectful. There have been situations, though, where I’ve been chased in my car or when a photographer has tried to cut me off to get a reaction, and that’s just not cool.
Let’s talk about the viewers’ reaction to your dance with Jennifer last week. I think many people wondered if you were using the Patrick Swayze connection to get votes and some might have thought the whole thing was disingenuous. How do you react when you hear/read stuff like that?
I think that the dance was Jennifer’s tribute to Patrick. He was such an important part of her life, and the connection to Dirty Dancing was going to come up with her being on Dancing with the Stars. I think now that we’ve done that tribute we can move on and focus on Jennifer. I actually was extremely flattered by the comparisons to Patrick himself though. His whole career is such an inspiration to me.
I know that generally the producers pick the song but sometimes the dancers have input. Whose idea was it to go with a Dirty Dancing song homage right away, and are you glad you did it?
That was a production choice. It’s a beautiful song and means a lot to so many people, including Jennifer. I’m glad that the audience liked the dance so much.
How is Jennifer doing training-wise? Does her neck injury mean serious limitations for the jive, and how do you work around that?
Jennifer is amazing. She’s in fabulous shape – not just for her age but for anyone. Her flexibility is crazy – she can literally hold her leg alongside her head. It’s pretty spectacular to see. I think that every celeb has limitations that we pros have to work around and Jennifer is no different.
What song do you have this week?
We have a great Jive song that if anyone saw us out on the DWTS tour, the song will be familiar.
The camera always pans up to the cast standing and clapping after each dance. Sometimes the contestants and pros’ reactions are really funny. Is there a general consensus that if you’re standing in that front row you need to be careful to “smile politely and clap” even if the dance you just saw is totally laughable?
Those reactions are honest reactions. By the time the show airs we’ve usually seen each other’s dances a few times, so for the most part, the routines are not a surprise. When we applaud each other it’s genuine.
You are a big fan of the “dramatic entrance” for backstage interviews. Is there a giant rubber band pulling you off camera that magically releases as soon as you are supposed to pop back into frame? Or does the giant rubber band exist ONLY IN YOUR MIND?
I’ve never thought about it before. I think I’m just so relieved to have the performance over and am anxious about the scores that I’m such a goof that it manifests in rubber band body.
What should people eat if they want to look just like you?
Right now I’m actually using a meal service because I forget to eat.
Leave your questions for Baby Derek in the comments!
Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett