Hey everyone!

I'm back!

Thanks so much for all your messages so far. I'm really excited to be back this season — something I didn't think would be happening even a few weeks ago. But I truly believe everything happens for a reason. My Broadway show Singin' in the Rain got postponed from January until sometime late next year, which freed up a lot of time for me this fall. I was excited to do some other stuff. I've been working on some cool music and videos with Lindsey Stirling that I will hopefully release soon. And you know I love Dancing with the Stars. There's nothing like it in the world. I've always said if I can come back and they will have me back, I will.

As some of you may know, I will be in NBC's live production of Hairspray in December, and ABC and NBC were both incredibly gracious to let me do both Dancing with the Stars and Hairspray. I got Hairspray first, so that became my main gig, if you will, and I'm so grateful and appreciative that they're trusting me and allowing me to do both. Rehearsals for Hairspray won't begin until Oct. 20, so we'd be well into the competition on Dancing by then if we're still around. And then it'll be a little like a Spring Spectacular redux when I was traveling back and forth between L.A. and New York. My only main concern about that is conserving my talking voice. I'd be coaching and teaching all day and then going and singing. So I'm going to have to be more mindful and protective of it should we still be on Dancing then.

I am partnered with Marilu Henner, and she is awesome! She is so positive and has so much energy. Our name is Team Hennergy. We're definitely like kindred spirits for sure. We're so similar that our brains work so fast that we don't finish thoughts. Our mouths don't move as fast as our brains so sometimes we don't complete sentences! We have the jive and she's doing great so far. She's 64 years old — definitely my most advanced partner in life — and she's bringing it every day in rehearsals.

Marilu is also amazing because she has super memory! It's actually called highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM), which means she has the ability to remember everything she's experienced every day down to a minute detail. So you must think she's got to memorize choreography easily, right? The funny thing is it's not exactly like that. She'll forget certain things or there might be some things she physically can't do yet, and if you tell her she forgot, she's like "What?! No way!" It's like an affront. It's very cute. I think for her it's weird to forget something. But the thing about dancing is that it's not about remembering things on a cognitive level. You have to remember moves and steps, but you also have to embody all of it. It's more like muscle memory. I think she'll get used to that soon.


The cast this season is great bunch. They're all really nice. I've hung out with Jana Kramer a little bit. I've been really impressed by James Hinchcliffe. I think he might be an underdog. He's another Helio in the making. He's got a great personality and is a really likeable guy. Then I saw him rehearse and I was like, "Wow!" I think he's definitely someone to watch out for.

I think it's cool that Cheryl and Maks are back this season too. It was a total coincidence for the three of us to return at the same time, but it's fun for us old-timers to be back.

This season is strange for me, though, because Mark is not on. Mark has definitely carved out his position, if you will, and his "character," really, on the show. He'll take those crazy chances. He has over-the-top concepts that are fun to watch. But he has a very good reason to sit out this season: He's going to be on Broadway in Jersey Boys! I'm honestly so happy for him. He called me and told me. Mark and I grew up together in England around musical theater. Broadway has always been the dream. Jersey Boys is such a great show and it's such a great part. And it's so awesome that he gets to close out the run. I'm so, so proud of him.

See you Monday!

Derek