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Dancing's Derek Hough Explains Why He Decided to Return

Plus: How he is doing two shows at once

Derek Hough

Hey everyone!

I'm back! Did you miss me?


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Hope you all enjoyed the show last night. I thought it was a great one and honestly, if you had asked me two months ago, I didn't think I was going to be part of it. When I initially decided to sit out this season, I meant it. I had this great opportunity with New York Spring Spectacular and I felt like it was time for a break from the show. But as time went on, I realized that I wanted to be part of the 20th season anniversary. I think some people were sort of disappointed at me leaving and to be honest, I was too. At a certain point, I was kind of bummed out and it didn't feel right not to be part of that. I had been talking to producers about doing a guest performance during the season and I realized that I had Mondays and Tuesdays off, so I was like, "Maybe I can work this in, fly in for the Monday shows, fly back to New York Tuesday and rehearse there for the week." I said it as kind of a joke, and they were like, "Yeah, we can look into it." And then they came back and said, "We think it's possible if we can find the right person."

Originally, I was supposed to be dancing with someone else and at the last minute, she pulled out. I'm not sure what happened. So then I thought I wasn't going to do the show. Then, like two days later, they called and said, "We found somebody based in New York who is willing to do the travel." Nastia is at NYU right now, so she has to be here in New York as well, not just because of me. We met and we hit it off. It was serendipitous and meant to be.

We both knew going into it what the schedule is going to be like, so we're prepared as you can be, I guess, for this. Nastia is busy too, not just with school, but she has other prior commitments. This week, she has to be in Vegas. A lot of people ask me if I think I'm hurting her by doing both shows and I would say no. Because for me, it's about getting ahead and utilizing every moment I have. When I'm here with her, I'm rehearsing with her and creating a routine. We're both excited to be part of the experience. We're not really worried about the results. As you know with me, I want to create a moment and routines that will be remembered that will hopefully mean something to viewers. I also see this as a challenge and you know I love challenges! Last year with Amy was a challenge. Could I do this? Is this possible? Can I do 10 shows a week and travel back and forth? I want to try my best and find out.

I will say that from a health standpoint, I will probably be more healthy this season because there is a sense of extra care when you have a lot on your plate. There's more thought that goes into the planning and management. I literally have five meals a day now. I take vitamins and all sorts of stuff, so fingers crossed I won't get my usual midseason illness!

Nastia and I are getting along really well and I thought she was great in our foxtrot. Next week, we have the rumba and it's to a really beautiful song. She has a lot of natural skill and ability, so I'm excited to see what she can do if we stay on. I think one of the weaknesses is the expectations place on her. I think a lot of people are expecting her to do well. That's, of course, nice to hear, but that in and of itself is a weakness. When people are surprised by someone, that's an edge. You might do something spectacular, but if people are already expecting it from you, it might not resonate as much as it will from someone you didn't expect it from. It's an advantage and a disadvantage. I think people will also want to compare Nastia to Shawn and Aly, which is natural. But it's more incentive for me to push myself and come up with better choreography. I think everyone will find as we go along that they're all completely different dancers, just like how they're all completely different gymnasts.

I loved the show itself last night. For me, the star was the packages. They were hilarious. They were so funny and I think you could see the extra effort that was put into them. We were joking that they looked like full movie productions. I thought everyone did well, which is tough for the first night. Tony was my favorite, just for wearing that outfit! I went up to him afterward I was like, "You are my hero. Only you could have the self-confidence to do that." Actually, no, Mark definitely would've enjoyed that outfit too! It was a good opener for the season and the anniversary. I really am grateful to be part of it this season and being with this cast. Having working Amy last year, I have an idea of what it's like to work with prostheses, but with Noah, it's totally different. I give major props go to him and Sharna. That was an incredible routine. It's moments like that that make me proud to be part of this show. Not many shows would have the courage to tell his story or they would maybe be afraid of making people feel uncomfortable. I'm really glad people can learn about Noah and hear his story and watch him do this show with such grace. He's a true inspiration.

As for New York Spring Spectacular, everything's going smoothly. We're in preview right now and we open next week. It's a blast and I'm having a lot of fun. It's a family show and it's very whimsical and cartoon-like, so I have to be way over-the-top. I'm less worried about the dancing than I am the singing. I'm trying to manage my voice so I don't lose it! If you can't make it out to New York, there's a behind-the-scenes special of the show, The Making of New York Spring Spectacular, airing Thursday, March 26 at 9 a.m./8c on AMC, IFC and SundanceTV.

See you Monday!