Every couple faces their own unique challenges when they sign on for "Dancing with the Stars," but for Derek Hough and Paralympian Amy Purdy, the duo is facing an extreme challenge - learning to choreograph and dance with Amy's prosthetic legs.
"We're not [playing] it safe," Derek told Access Hollywood exclusively at his rehearsal with Amy in Sochi, Russia, when asked if they're being careful with their choreography because of Amy's legs. "But saying that, we've definitely had to re-work things, for sure, because obviously you know, in dancing you use your ankles a lot and your feet and stuff.
"Obviously, we have to sort of find different ways to sort of make things work, but it's amazing. She's an absolute champion, absolute warrior, and we're figuring it out. And, it's really cool to be a part of and it's just really, really exciting. I'm excited for people to see her dance," Derek added.
Amy, a snowboarder, lost her legs at the age of 19.
"I thought I was just gonna just travel the world, snowboard and have fun and ended up contracting something called bacterial meningitis and it hit in one day," she told Access . "We have no idea how I got it, but within 24 hours of my first flu-like symptom, I ended up in the hospital on life support. I was given less than a two percent chance of living and I barely survived and they ended up having to amputate my legs because of septic shock. So it was either my legs or my life, and you know, that isn't really a question… So anyway, I ended up snowboarding again and just realizing that I have to work a little bit harder. But anything's possible."
Now 34, Amy has always loved dancing, and said she actually danced with her new legs before she walked.
"One of the first things I did was dance with my dad when I got my prosthetic legs," she said. "And it was just natural to [do] that. I got my legs and stood up in them and they were really uncomfortable. And I took a few steps and I just thought, 'How am I ever going to snowboard in these? And how am I gonna walk in these? And they're so uncomfortable!' And then I was still in my wheelchair and I was at home, but this song came on the radio and it totally motivated me."
Watch Derek and Amy take on the cha cha when "Dancing with the Stars" premieres on Monday at 8/7c on ABC.
-- Erin O'Sullivan
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