Amy Purdy discusses the rehearsal process on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

The Times is pleased to have Amy Purdy, who won a bronze medal in snowboardcross at the 2014 Paralympics, guest-blogging for us while she competes on “Dancing With the Stars” with pro partner Derek Hough. This week, Purdy talks about Week 6 of the competition, in an email Q&A.

You had to dance last tonight. Is it tough to wait the whole show to dance, while also waiting to find out if you are in jeopardy of elimination?

So far I have danced multiple times in the later part of the show so I’m pretty used to it however going early on is nice as well then you can sit back and enjoy the other dances. As far as eliminations go, honestly Derek and I do not even think about them until we are in that moment, there is no reason to, we really try to stay present in each and every moment. I have been dancing well and the audience and judges seem to love our performances, but until you actually hear ‘Amy and Derek…you’re safe!’ there’s a little part of you that is definitely on edge for that time being. I definitely want to win, there’s no doubt about that, but even more than that I truly love sharing our hard work and performances with the world. We go through this whole creative process developing the dances, set, costumes etc and I have found this new amazing way to express myself and I don’t want that to end.


It looks like you stumbled a bit during this week’s dance. How long does it take for your heart to start beating again after that happens?

Only a second or two. I’m certainly aware when we make a mistake. Sometimes the audience doesn’t even notice (but I always do) and sometimes they might, like last night, but within a second my mind has moved on to what’s next. That’s definitely a skill that I’ve honed through my snowboarding career. No run down a mountain is ever perfect, there’s always something that could have been better, but you’ve got to stay focused on what’s coming vs. what’s behind you. That said, you may have noticed that the minute our dance ended last night both Derek and I instantly when back to that section of the dance to get it right. Of course we’re both a little disappointed that we had a little bobble, especially because that particular area was never an issue in practice but the jive is such a tough, fast moving dancing with so much footwork that I’m really happy we nailed the rest of the performance and of course that we had fun.

Let’s talk about rehearsals a little. When do you find out your music for the next week’s dance, and how long does it take Derek to work out all the choreography?

The dance begins to take life on Tuesdays, that’s when we get the music. That’s the most creative, private time we have all week to think through what we want to do. It’s just us listening to the music and finding inspiration, trying new moves. Derek basically says “ try this” and we try a move and if we like it we know we will put it somewhere. Derek doesn’t come in with a set dance that he teaches me, we build it together and sometimes we don’t even know the beginning or end until Fridays. Sometimes depending on the difficulty we won’t even put it to music until Fridays. Sometimes we even change moves at the last minute. Derek is such a brilliant choreographer that I’m sure there are countless possibilities running through his head all the time. So while the dance really begins to take shape on Tuesdays it often takes a couple of days before we have finalized a routine, then by Saturday and Sunday we’re trying to fine tune it and come Monday it’s showtime!

Drew Carey went home this week, as the list of stars remaining grows ever smaller. Have you formed a bond with the other people on the show, and what are your thoughts when you see someone get eliminated?

Yes, I’ve made lots of new friends on the show with both the cast and crew. It’s hard not to when you spend so much time together and Drew is one of my castmates I definitely consider a friend. In fact two weeks ago I went and did “The Price Is Right” with him. It’s hard to see him or anyone go because I know how hard everyone on the cast is working. This show is no joke. The other day someone asked me what I do on my off days. My off days??? There are no off days. Everyone is dancing every day, building right up until Mondays/show days, when you arrive on the set at about 7 a.m. and you are there all day and all night. Then last night we had dance practice after the show until midnight. Then we all start our routines for next week today. It’s exhausting, but it’s also a total blast. So knowing that everyone is keeping a pretty similar hectic pace makes it hard to see someone get sent home. For me, it’s also a reminder that eventually this show is going to end for everyone, and I’m having so much fun that I don’t even want to think about that!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organization I co-founded, Adaptive Action Sports, which helped me get to Sochi through training and who helps so many other athletes, kids and wounded vets with physical disabilities follow their dreams through action sports.

You can vote for who you think should win “Dancing With the Stars” here.

You can follow Amy Purdy at her website, on Instagram/Twitter: @AmyPurdyGurl and on Facebook.


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