Why Jenna Dewan Jumped at the Chance to Recreate ‘Saturday Night Fever’ Boogie With Derek Hough

“Step Into…The Movies with Derek and Julianne Hough” airs Sunday on ABC

Jenna Dewan
Jenna Dewan in "Step Into…The Movies With Derek And Julianne Hough" (ABC/Eric McCandless) JENNA DEWAN

When “Step Up” star Jenna Dewan was asked to recreate a famous “Saturday Night Fever” dance with Emmy-winning “Dancing With the Stars” regular Derek Hough for the special “Step Into…The Movies with Derek and Julianne Hough,” she couldn’t say yes fast enough.

“Nick Florez and RJ Durell, who are producing and directing, approached me and it was an immediate, ‘How can I say no to this?’” Dewan told TheWrap. “We’ve known each other for many, many years. They just know me and know what I love.”

In the dance scene, set to The Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing,” Hough hip-swivels in a replica of John Travolta’s famous white suit, while Dewan is sultry in red as his partner, who was played by Karen Lynn Gorney in the 1977 film. (Gorney’s dress was white in the movie, but the red dress used in a promotional photo is fixed firmly in the movie’s iconography.)

“Its one of the most classic movies of all-time, and that dance scene with John Travolta is just so life-changing and epic. So to be able to re-imagine that in our own fun way is too good. When you get the opportunity, you gotta jump on it,” she said.

Jenna Dewan and Derek Hough re-imagine a “Saturday Night Fever”moment for “Step Into…The Movies with Derek and Julianne Hough.”
(ABC/Eric McCandless)

The sequence was choreographed by Tovaris, who Dewan had worked with as a back-up dancer on Janet Jackson’s 2001 tour. But she got to add a few moves. “We got in the room and we played around and would find certain things that felt better in the body and we found our grooves,” she said.

Dewan, Hough and the back-up dancers only had two rehearsals before the segment was shot, since the entire special — which includes routines from “La La Land,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “West Side Story” Best Supporting Actress nominee Ariana DeBose and Julianne performing “All that Jazz” from “Chicago” — had to be put together in two weeks.

“We had had to work around so many different numbers, and so many different schedules, so two days is the max we were able to get, said Dewan, who added she would have even done the number live, if asked. “Except I would have asked for more than two rehearsals,” she laughed. “Ultimately, I just fully trust Nick and RJ and Derek, who I’ve danced with before on ‘World of Dance.’”

“Step Into…The Movies with Derek and Julianne Hough,” also features TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, “So You Think You Can Dance” alum Tate McRae, and John Stamos taking on dances from movies including “Moulin Rouge,” and “Viva Las Vegas.”

“What they have put into it, the production value, the dancers, the guest stars, all of it… it is nothing short of magical,” promised Dewan.

Other guest stars include Harry Shum Jr. and Amber Riley of “Glee,” “Moulin Rouge” director Baz Luhrmann, “Chicago” director Rob Marshall, “High School Musical” director Kenny Ortega, and “Footloose” star Kevin Bacon.

“Step Into…The Movies with Derek and Julianne Hough,” which airs Sunday at 10/9 CT on ABC, is produced by Done+Dusted in association with Walt Disney Television’s alternative production unit. Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, Katy Mullan, Nick Florez, RJ Durell, Peter Hebri and Ashley Edens serve as executive producers.

Dewan co-stars on ABC’s “The Rookie” and The CW’s “Superman & Lois,” and is a judge on “Come Dance With Me,” premiering April 15 on CBS.