Originally posted Thursday, April 4, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Derek Hough was the most successful pro in the history of “Dancing With the Stars,” guiding six celebrity dancers to the mirror-ball trophy, including Jennifer Grey, Kellie Pickler and Bindi Irwin. Over 17 seasons, his dancers never finished worse than sixth.
His high energy, boyish good looks, sophisticated choreography and natural ability to bring the best out of his partners boosted his fame to the point it seemed as if viewers were giving him votes as much if not more than the guest celebrity.
Hough is now a judge on NBC’s reality competition show “World of Dance” and will get to display his Zack Morris-meets-Donny-Osmond charm live on his first solo tour. It begins Friday in Charlotte and comes to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta a week later on April 12. (Tickets available here.)
“I want it to be a theatrical rock concert for dance,” said Hough in a recent interview while prepping for the tour. Compared to his tour with his sister Julianne a few years ago, “I want to make this one feel more theatrical, less video-screen heavy. I want them to watch the dancing, not the screens.”
And to prove he isn’t just a dancer, he will croon a few songs as well.
“It was a necessity,” Hough said. “I’m not going to dance for 90 straight minutes. I went to school in London for several years. I was in musical theater. Singing for me was always in the mix, something I’ve wanted to actively showcase.”
And while Hough’s name is the selling point, he said he gets plenty of help from his seven hand-picked dancers, six of whom appeared on “World of Dance.” Largely, this is not a coincidence. One dancer Charity Anderson, for instance, was part of a duo that garnered the show’s first perfect score.
“They are not back-up singers,” he said. “My goal was to have people who challenge me, raise my game and do things I can’t do. I want them to have their moments. My mouth hits the floor every time I see them bust out 10 pirouettes and land on a dime, go into a flip into a split. It’s stunning stuff.”
Daniella Karagach, another “World of Dance” participant who is part of his tour, “is like dancing with a Bugatti or Ferrari. She just flies. It’s amazing!”
Not surprisingly, this show will not just be ballroom dance á la “Dancing with the Stars.” The show will feature Latin, hip-hop and contemporary as well as tap and big band. He will also use a live band along tracks using samples from the likes of crooner Michael Buble and violinist Lindsey Sterling. They’ll also be homages to “A Star is Born” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
The 59-city tour, he said, will be rigorous and he is doing his best to prepare mentally and physically.
“There are some days my body will be hurting, days I’ll be tired,” Hough said. “But it all changes when I go to the meet and greets and get a sense of the people in each city, hugging them, greeting them, putting a great show on for them. I try to stay in a place of gratitude, not taking it for granted.”
While he never counts out returning to “Dancing With the Stars” at some point, he is currently committed to “World of Dance,” in its third season.
Jennifer Lopez, executive producer, convinced him in 2017 to join the judges’ panel with her and Atlanta’s Ne-Yo. He said he has enjoyed every minute of it.
“It’s like the Olympics of dance,” he said. “For me, being an advocate and supporter of dance, it sounded exciting to me. There are so many different cultures and styles from all over the world. It exceeded my expectations in terms of talent, creativity and athleticism. It’s been stunning.”
Derek Hough Live!
8 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2019
$49.50-$80 plus fees
660 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta
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