He may not have celebrity partner Jennie Garth with him on the road, but Dancing with the Stars pro Derek Hough is a standout all by himself. Blessed with dazzling good looks and blinding speed, some girls in the audience actually scream when his moves take him to the edge of the dance floor. Derek, who is Julianne's older brother, has been paired with a variety of partners, including pro Cheryl Burke and the Cheetah Girls' Sabrina Bryan (while her partner, Mark Ballas, sits out some numbers, still recovering from a dislocated shoulder). TVGuide.com spoke to Hough about life in the ballroom-dance world's fast lane.
TVGuide.com: You've done this before — you did the 2006 Dancing with the Stars winter tour.
Derek Hough: Right. But this tour is a lot different from the last one. When I did the last tour, it was because of the tour that I got a shot on the show. Same thing for Julianne.
TVGuide.com: Really? How so?
Hough: We were on the last winter tour in Nashville, and the producers were like, wow, this girl's a bombshell. She's going to be great and we want to put her on the show. I was actually with Julianne when she was offered the show and I was so excited and proud. And not really surprised. Because I knew she was more than capable of doing it and that she would look fantastic. And when I saw her on the show, and how great she was doing, and then, when she actually won the show, I was overwhelmed with pride.
TVGuide.com: So is this tour different for you from the last one?
Hough: Yes, definitely, because after being on the show, you feel like the audience might expect more from you. Before, nobody knew me, so there wasn't very much pressure. And I knew that they were focusing on the people they saw on television, the people they had been connecting with. Now, there's a little more pressure and I've got to make sure I do a really good job. I don't want to let them down.
TVGuide.com: It looks like you're having a blast, and the girls are screaming for you?
Hough: The thing is, in live shows, it's about entertainment. It's about having fun. As long as we're portraying a good atmosphere and a very light feeling, then the audience can walk out feeling like they saw a good show. The first couple of shows are going to be crazy, because so many people are gone (pros Cheryl Burke and Edyta Sliwinska, who have since joined the tour) and we're going to have to wing it. And last night, during the run-through, I completely blanked out when I danced the cha cha with Sabrina. I just completely blanked. And then she blanked. So for a minute, we were both sort of standing there and it was kind of embarrassing. But when things like that happen, you just gotta laugh and have fun with it.
TVGuide.com: Is it weird dancing with Sabrina, who's so closely associated with her pro from the show — and your best friend — Mark Ballas?
Hough: It's like being a gigolo. You're dancing with a lot of different people. And you kind of feel guilty sometimes, like you're cheating. But she's great. And all in all, when the show gets tightened up and it gets slick, it's gonna be great.
TVGuide.com: Do you have more fun doing the show or the tour?
Hough: The tour is more fun because you get to touch a lot more people on a personal level. And it's a lot of energy. I'm in 13 numbers in the show, and five of those numbers are back-to-back. I don't leave the stage for five numbers and I'm about to pass out. It's a marathon, an absolute marathon.
TVGuide.com: How do you keep your energy up?
Hough: I've got to keep eating, otherwise I'll disappear. That's why I'm eating all this pasta.
TVGuide.com: Now that you've got some distance from the show, how do you feel about that infamous spill you took with Jenny Garth — the one they replayed over and over?
Hough: It's good when things like that happen sometimes, just to remind people that this is real, this is live.
TVGuide.com: What happened, exactly?
Hough: We only had one practice with that dress on, and when she went down, the material got caught underneath my foot and it was like a carpet. The dress pulled my foot right out from under me and I went right over her. I tried holding her up so she didn't fall hard. And then I just thought, "OK, grab her, pull her in and just laugh about it. Who cares?"
TVGuide.com: But that was the first major wipeout in five seasons. It's not like people fall all the time.
Hough: I said that to her right after the show! I said, "Babe, people fall all the time on this show." And then somebody was like, "Actually, that was the first fall, ever." And I said, "Don't worry about it! No big deal!'" And then the next week she came back and nailed it."
Watch exciting Dancing clips in our Online Video Guide.
Get the Ultimate 2008 Sci-Fi Preview in the new issue of TV Guide, on newsstands now. Plus: More on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Try four risk-free issues of TV Guide now!
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.