In a new interview, “Dancing With the Stars” pro-turned-judge Derek Hough talked about the possibility of casting a dancer in a wheelchair on the dancing competition series, something that professional dancer Chelsie Hill, who danced with Hough earlier this year, suggested in an Instagram story after their performance.
Here’s why Hough is “intrigued” by the possibility of that.
Hough Said Casting a Wheelchair-Bound Dancer Could Lead to ‘Amazing Works of Art’
In an interview with Insider, Hough was asked about the video he posted to Instagram back in early August where he danced with Hill, who is in a wheelchair, as part of a project for American Dance Movement.
Hough said it would be “wonderful” to cast Hill or a dancer like her on the show, saying that using the wheelchair as as an apparatus in dance could be really “amazing.”
“You can do amazing, amazing works of art, amazing pieces, amazing dancing using the apparatus. The possibilities are endless. Honestly,” said Hough.
He went on to talk about dancing with paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy in season 18 and how he learned so much from her because their dances were more collaborative rather than in past seasons when he was more of the teacher for his partners.
Hough said that Purdy really taught him how to be more innovative with his choreography, plus she changed his whole outlook on overcoming obstacles in life, teaching him that instead of wondering “Why is this happening to me,” you should ask yourself, “Why is this happening for me?”
But as for a wheelchair user as a dancer, Hough said that he is “curious” and “intrigued” about the possibilities of that partnership.
Purdy had both of her legs amputated below the knee after having a meningitis infection at the age of 19. She and Hough finished in second place on season 18. Then veteran and motivational speaker Noah Galloway, who lost part of his left arm and left leg in Iraq, competed in season 20 and finished in third place with Sharna Burgess.
In the current season airing now, Britt Stewart’s partner is deaf actor Daniel Durant, who is the third deaf contestant to compete on the show after Marlee Matlin, who finished in seventh place in season six with pro Fabian Sanchez, and Nyle DiMarco, who won season 22 with pro Peta Murgatroyd.
Hill Said After Her Performance With Hough That He Made Her ‘Feel Like a Person’
In her Instagram stories after Hill danced with Hough, she thanked him for making her “feel like a person” and not someone defined by being “different.”
“I got to dance with Derek today, which was so cool because he literally just walked up to me and put his hands out and wanted to dance, freestyle and see what I can do,” said Hill. “To me, that made me feel like this person saw me as a dancer and as a person and not someone that was just so different. He was intrigued, he wasn’t scared.”
She added, “I felt like a person today in a different way, it’s hard to explain, but so cool. I love the show, obviously, who doesn’t? ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is amazing. On cloud nine being able to see that. When you work with a good partner, it’s just magic. So cool, you guys. … So cool and thank you so much, Derek, for the opportunity just to dance with you and be seen as a person and as a dancer.”
Hill also said “maybe one day” there could be a full-time wheelchair user on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Hill is the founder and CEO of Rollettes, a Los Angeles-area wheelchair dance team. On her website, it says that the organization is “committed to education, disability representation, and female empowerment.”
The website also explains how Hill was a dancer from a young age, then when she was 17, she was “involved in a drunk driving accident, sustaining a spinal cord injury that resulted in paralysis from [her] waist down.”
But she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.
She wrote on the site:
It wasn’t easy at the beginning to be the only person in a wheelchair with a room full of able-bodied dancers, trying to adapt the choreography to fit my wheelchair and a lot of choreographers didn’t even give me the time of day. But my love and passion for dance outweighed anything that anyone could ever say to me and I wanted to prove to all of them that dance is dance, whether you’re walking or rolling.
On Hill’s Instagram, she revealed on August 4 that she and her husband Jay Bloom are expecting their first child together. She also posted an incredible video of herself dancing with pro dancer Peyton Matthias.
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern and 5 p.m. Pacific times on Disney Plus.