Bill Richert/ ABC
Derek Hough took off his dancing shoes and replaced them with a pair of sturdy work boots when he joined the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team and several of the other "Dancing with the Stars" professional dancers to build a home for a deserving family.
How well did you do with power tools?
Derek Hough: I actually love doing handiwork and stuff growing up around the house with my dad and whatnot. I was excited to be around a construction site and seeing a house being demolished and then rebuilt as this beautiful home for this amazing family. It was really beautiful. I can't say that my dance experience really helped, although, we did do a fun kind of '80s montage demolition day.
Everyone who watches "Extreme Makeover" says it is emotional. Was it emotional for you?
Derek Hough: Absolutely. What made me want to do it in the first place was watching it and like everybody else getting emotional and seeing how fantastic it is to see these amazing families who do so much for the community but don't really get anything back, to see their lives changed is phenomenal. To see it and be part of it … to see the whole process ... and when they see their brand new house, it was a phenomenal experience.
Can you give us more of a hint about the '80s montage and what that is going to be?
Derek Hough: We had Tony [Dovolani], Anna [Trebunskaya] Chelsie [Hightower] and Mark [Ballas] come out that day for the demolition. Rhex Arboleda, the father of the family, created a dance program – it is called Move to the Groove -- to help kids stay active. We wanted to do the demolition but kind of do it in like exercise fashion. We got into our '80s gear and did this thing where we were working out while we were destroying the house.
How was being there and taking part in it? Was the experience as expected?
Derek Hough: It was amazing. I was really fortunate to be part of a build that was very successful and was, if anything, ahead of schedule. Talking to the designers, they have been on hundreds of builds and each one is unique because it is about the community and how they come together. It was really special to be a part of a build that was so amazing, so quick and so well-organized. It was a phenomenal experience. It mind-blowing to see something so amazing happen so quick.
How close are the "Dancing with the Stars" professional dancers?
Derek Hough: We are pretty close. We have known each other many years before we did the show. Before we did "Dancing with the Stars," we have known each other for years. We are all really good friends. We know each other well. We hang out. I think it actually helps out with the show. You can feel the energy of all of us being friends. We are competitive, but it is more like friendly competition.
Did you honestly believe when you were a kid that all this would be possible as a dancer? What exactly were you hoping when got into dance?
Derek Hough: I never just did dancing, I always did music and plays. I never really thought I would be a dancer person. I started playing drums before I did anything else in a [The] Beach Boys tribute band, so I thought I was going to be a rock star drummer. It is truly amazing to see how, especially with the show, it is absurd. To get a celebrity and put them in a rhinestone outfit and teach them how to do Latin or a ballroom dance in front of 23 million people, it is an absurd concept, but so fantastic, because it is so entertaining. It is cool to be part of, but, to be honest with you, I never thought I would be doing a cha-cha on live television.
Can you talk a little bit about bonding with this family? It sounds as if they were into music and the arts.
Derek Hough: It was the perfect combination. Rhex, the father, is a musician and he wrote the song for this program, Move to the Groove. The concept was to fight childhood obesity. The whole family has the most amazing energy and were hilarious. It reminded me of my family growing up. We all had a lot of energy and were dancing around and performing. Each one had their own character. It was so individual. Just brilliant kids. It was a fantastic family. When we went to their house, the energy of the family and the light that shone through them wasn't a match to their house. Their house was very dark and small for seven people. It was awesome to build a home that matched their energy.
Have you been in touch with the family since the build ended?
Derek Hough: I haven't unfortunately, but I definitely want to get them out here to come and see the show. They all dance and sing and play instruments and they are a talented, fun family. I would love to fly them out here to actually see the show firsthand. Also, I am always with the family because there was a funny thing in the house with me on it. It wasn't my idea, but it is there needless to say. I am always with them.
What else is on your bucket list that you would want to accomplish?
Derek Hough: I have always done acting and theater growing up. I went to a theater arts college. For me, I want to do everything. I look at the late Patrick Swayze, and now, dancing with Jennifer [Grey] I am making comparisons. He is actually somebody who I look up to and would love to mold myself around. He was a dancer who then got onto a film, had dancing, on the soundtrack, he carried on to have a fabulous film career. For me, he is somebody I would definitely aspire to be like. I want to do it all. Also, direct things as well. Choreographing is virtually directing -- just moving. You are creating a scene through movement. Kenny Ortega is a perfect example and Adam Shankman, who have become directors. I feel like I want to do it all, but everything I do, I would love to incorporate all aspects of entertainment. I think that is where we are at. It is a good time.
The episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" featuring Derek airs Sunday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. on ABC.