Rockettes’ Pick for Dancer of the Week: Julianne Hough Performing an Emotional Routine About Terminal Illness

Who: Julianne Hough

Her dance:

Why we chose her: In this emotional performance, we were reminded that when you simply don’t have words, there’s always dance.

On the first part of Dancing with the Stars finale, Julianne Hough performed a routine created by choreographer Marinda Davis, who lives with seven autoimmune diseases. The piece, inspired by Marinda’s own health battles, gives movement to the shock, sadness and disbelief that often come with a new diagnosis.

The number opens with Julianne stepping out of a doctor’s office into a bustling townscape, medical records in-hand, her face blank with shock as snow falls around her. As she moves through the piece, her expressions cycle between frustration, sadness, peace and pain, depicting the emotional journey that accompanies chronic illness. At some of the piece’s most emotional moments, Julianne freezes time in order to embrace those around her, and even throws her medical records into the air, scattering papers across the stage.

But one of the most notable elements of the choreography is the literal support provided by the ensemble. In several spots, Julianne is carried, lifted, spun and caught by the other dancers, who surround her throughout the entire piece—possibly a nod to caregivers, family and friends who provide comfort and support during a loved one’s illness.

We just love how Marinda found a way to channel her personal experience into dance. Her piece is a helpful reminder that a major setback isn’t the end—it’s inspiration.

Fun fact: Marinda was just 2 years old when she started dancing (she even studied at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC!).

Want more Rockettes? Click here to see us at Radio City Music Hall this holiday season in the Christmas Spectacular!