The 46-year-old journalist surprised Today viewer Katie Bly at Just Dance dance studio in Los Angeles, and the two did their best to follow Dancing with the Stars and World of Dance pro Derek Hough‘s intense ballroom dance instructions.
It was all part of the NBC morning show’s “Summer of Yes” series, which encourages viewers to tackle things they’ve always wanted to try.
For Bly, a mother of two from Santa Maria, California, the decision to jump into swing-dancing was an emotional one.
In 2009, her mother Diane, a police officer, was diagnosed with a rare appendix cancer and died. “I didn’t know what kind of torture your body could really put you through,” Bly explained. “That really stuck with me, seeing her like that. Because she was so strong. I’m really glad that I got to be there with her.”
Months later, more tragedy struck when Bly got a call learning her older sister Crystal had been in a car wreck and died. “Since the day I was born, she was really my best friend without a doubt,” Bly said. “There’s always somewhat of a hole that I don’t think is ever going to get filled. It’s just going to get covered up.”
Crystal was 32 at the time — an age Bly recently turned. And it was when Bly blew out her birthday candles that she realized she was going to live her life in memory of those who had lost those before her.
“I want to live every day after 32 to the fullest — not just for me but for [Crystal], since she didn’t get to,’ Bly said.
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She certainly did on Tuesday, twirling around the dance floor.
“Dance is about fun and just expressing yourself and having a good time,” Hough told her the lesson.
Kelly learned a lot during the exercise too.
“While we were spinning and twisting and dipping, there was also smiling — a lot of smiling,” she said. “The courage to dance but also to live well.”
Today airs weekdays (7 a.m. ET) on NBC.