Julianne Hough made her emotional return to the Dancing with the Stars ballroom floor on Monday night, in a powerful performance dedicated to those battling terminal illness

By Dave Quinn
November 21, 2017 11:15 AM

Julianne Hough made her emotional return to the Dancing with the Stars ballroom floor on Monday night with a powerful performance dedicated to those battling terminal illness.

The 29-year-old star, who also served as a guest judge for the first night of DWTS‘ two-night finale, spoke about her number in a pre-taped package while meeting with choreographer Marinda Davis — who Hough revealed was “unfortunately diagnosed with seven auto-immune diseases that left her terminally ill.”

Though battling her health troubles, Davis channeled her pain into the choreography of Hough’s routine. “This dance is Marinda’s story that she’s choreographed. I could not be more honored that she chose me to play her and that we get to share her gift with the world,” Hough said.

Julianne Hough
| Credit: David Livingston/Getty

Set to the “Wouldn’t Change Anything” from Mark Ballas and wife BC Jean’s band Alexander Jean, the performance began with a stunned and scared Hough stepping out of a doctor’s office and into a town square surrounded by a group of dancers.

Eventually falling to the floor motionless, Hough ended the dance by being lifted up in the air by cables.

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“I have to say how much I admire you turning what you’re facing into art,” host Tom Bergeron told Davis after the dance.

Davis called the experience a “dream come true” and had nothing but praise for Hough.

“She’s so incredible,” Davis said. “As you guys just saw, she’s a wonderful performer, but what people may not know is she’s one of the most extraordinary humans I’ve ever worked with and known. I just adore her.”

The Dancing with the Stars finale airs Tuesday (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.