Will Derek Hough Ever Leave the Dancing with the Stars Judges’ Table and Return to Being a Pro Partner?
Derek Hough (ABC/Adrienne Raquel)
In September, Derek Hough won his third Emmy for Outstanding Choreography for Variety or Reality Programming for Dancing with the Stars. This one was for the Paso Doble that he and girlfriend Hayley Erbert performed on season 29 of the ABC competition series. And he will be eligible again next year for the Tango of the Dead they performed on Horror Night this year, which brings up the question: Is sitting at the judges’ table enough, or might Derek want to return to being a professional partner? Does he miss dancing?
“I’m OK,” he tells Parade.com in this exclusive interview. “I feel I’m very lucky right now where I can get the best of both worlds. I get to have those performances and those moments to dance, but I’m also very happy to be like, ‘Alright. Show me what you guys were working on all week.’”
That said, Derek does wish that he could spend time outside of the live show with each of the celebrities, working with them and coaching them a bit in the process.
“I would love to just have an hour with each one of the celebrities,” he said. “I would love that because I have so much more to share and to give and I feel like I could add some value to their experience in the process. So, I would love to have like 30 minutes to an hour with them and just give a little spiel and, hopefully, add some value to them.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise because watching Derek as a judge each week, even though he is the newest to offer critiques, it’s only his second season, he is the one who gives the most helpful comments to the couples—and maybe that is because as a six-time winner, he understands what the celebs and their pro partners need to hear.
That said, this is Derek’s first season working with Len Goodman, who was stuck in the U.K. for season 29 of Dancing with the Stars due to COVID-19 protocols, and Derek has been surprised by the results now that the head judge is back at the table.
“It’s been really good,” Derek said. “The judging, when I look back at it, it’s been a lot of agreement. I was actually expecting a lot more disagreement with Len because I’m a little bit more open to interpretation and he’s a little more about the rulebook, but we’ve pretty much been on the same page.”
And speaking of things that happened as a result of COVID-19, Derek also spoke to us about a new skill he picked up during the pandemic when everything was on lockdown, and one that he plans to use for the holidays: cooking.
“Cooking in the kitchen with my girlfriend has been a lot of fun,” said Derek, who has partnered with America’s egg farmers to launch Eggceptional Holiday Recipe Remakes to showcase traditional family recipes reimagined with fresh ingredients, updated flavors and new cooking styles to inspire families to recreate their own beloved recipes. “Being a choreographer, you create and then you share with people. With food, you’re creating something and you’re going to share it.”
For more of Derek’s thoughts on season 30 of Dancing with the Stars and his favorite family holiday dishes, read on!
This is the 30th anniversary of DWTS and it seems that the talent is better than ever. But isn’t the fun of the show watching people improve? So, to see The Miz go last week was disappointing because he was really an example of what the show is about. Someone who comes in and gets better; not someone like JoJo Siwa who knows how to dance. Everyone says other dance styles don’t translate, but they do.
That is an absolutely fair statement because The Miz, Jimmie Allen, and even Olivia Jade with no dancing experience, seeing them just get better and better, it’s been really impressive and really cool. What I loved about The Miz was that you could really see him working hard and you could see him like, “OK, I’ve got to get my shoulders back, my head up.” He had this smoothness to him.
Listen, I feel you on that. I think he definitely embodied old-school Dancing with the Stars, but I also will tip my hat to all the other dancers. Yes, there is dance experience for sure, but look at Iman Shumpert, for instance. By no means is he the best dancer, but there’s something about him that you just love watching, right? He just has this swag about him. So, it’s still a mixture.
What I have to say about The Miz, too, is when it comes to just memorable iconic looks, he’s already won. At the end of the day, and it’s what I tell the celebrities, even my partners in the past, yes, the result matters to a point but the thing that matters the most, I believe, is being memorable. It’s that thing of like, “Let’s go back and watch that Scar routine,” or, “Let’s go back and watch him on Horror Night.” The memorable stuff is what sticks.
What is the story behind all the interesting lapel pins that you have been wearing this season? Is there something significant to that?
They’re just fabulous. My guy who dresses me said, “Hey, do you want to wear one of these brooches?” They were outrageous and amazing, so, yeah. There’s actually one that has a rock on it, so am I going to wear a rock, an actual stone from the ground? I don’t know. They are out there. In fact, next week I should tell him, “It’s been two weeks without the brooch, we need the brooch back.”
The number that you did on Horror Night, Tango of the Dead, you danced with Hayley and you brought in dancers from your Vegas show. Was that dance indicative of what people would see if they saw you in Vegas at your residency?
Kind of, yeah. Hayley is in the show in Vegas. My favorite part is hearing people cheer for her at the beginning of the show because you see her first. It makes me so happy and gets me pumped up for the show. Those dancers are incredible and that piece was made for television. It was made for this show, but there are moments in there that were inspired from the [Vegas] show, little sections. But, yes, to answer the question, that level of dancing, that amount of action is happening throughout the entire show.
Do you have a favorite holiday dish?
My favorite holiday dish hands down is stuffing because the only time that you eat stuffing is during the holidays, so I have a strong nostalgic feeling for that. This is a jalapeno cornbread stuffing—yes, those three words did come out of my mouth— and it is delicious. It’s really cool. People can follow along, they can tag me in different dishes they want to try out, or they can tag @incredibleegg or go to incredibleegg.org for different recipes. It’s the holiday season. Let’s get in the kitchen. Let’s share with loved ones, and eggs are always in the center of that.
Derek Hough (The American Egg Board)
When I think of the holidays, I think of eggnog and fettuccini, which both use eggs; what egg recipe does your family put on the holiday table?
It varies. We’re pretty traditional as far as turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and the green beans, all those types of things, but I’m excited actually to share some of my new cooking skills. You mentioned eggnog. This is an eggnog waffle cookie right here. As you can see, it is delicious, but also the deviled eggs. You can put pumpkin in there or cranberry to make it more seasonal. It is about reimagining those old family recipes. I am looking forward to it, but Hayley is the cook. She is the captain, but I have been doing not bad myself, so I’m excited to share them with my family when I see them at Thanksgiving.
What is it about eggs that led you to partner with the American Egg Board?
For me, it’s the holiday season. Look at me, I’m in a sweater vest, it’s November, it’s time to celebrate the holiday season. For me, dancing and food are always at the center of the holiday season, so for me, eggs are a key ingredient in every dish, in every family recipe that brings that comfort and nostalgia, so partnering up with America’s egg farmers to basically encourage people to try new things. Trying new things in the kitchen is what I’ve been doing actually during quarantine.
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Also, visit IncredibleEgg.org for the American Egg Board’s Eggceptional Holiday Recipe Remakes.