By ALICIA RANCILIO
NEW YORK — Drew Lachey is not taking it easy before he reunites with boy band 98 Degrees and appears on "Dancing with the Stars."
Ahead of his 98 Degrees performances Friday on NBC's "Today" show and Saturday at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pa., he's busy teaching at a Cincinnati-area performing arts day camp that he opened with his wife, Lea.
"My wife and I were both so influenced by the arts growing up that we wanted to be able to pass on our knowledge and experience as professional performers to the next generation," Lachey said in a recent interview.
The Lachey Arts Music Theater Camp is a two-week day camp that runs through Friday. There are 38 kids and Lachey says approximately 28 of them attend on a full scholarship, learning dance, drama and singing.
After 98 Degrees performs, 36-year-old Lachey says he has about 10 days off before beginning rehearsals for "Dancing with the Stars All-Stars" which premieres September 24 on ABC. He won the show's second season and wants to show he still has what it takes to be a champion.
"It's a great opportunity to show that season two, yes, was early on in the show but us champions and early winners can still compete with these new people. They're talking about how intense the show is now and how much harder it's gotten and there might be some truth to that, but I kind of take that as a personal challenge for me to come out and represent and do well," he said.
This time around Lachey will be paired with Ana Trebunskaya. His former partner Cheryl Burke will dance with Emmitt Smith.
Lachey described not working with Burke as "bittersweet."
"There's history there and we know how to work together and how to dance together but there's also excitement to do something new. A new partner, a new dynamic, a new style, new choreography, new techniques," he said.
Once "Dancing with the Stars" wraps up the season, he's hoping 98 Degrees can record new music.
"I would just love to be out on tour again and perform in front of crowds every night," said Lachey.
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