Renowned dancer and choreographer Derek Hough debuts his first tour with live music and dynamic choreography that will make every city, coast to coast, move to the rhythm of the beat.
When there is passion in what you do, there is no length you won’t push yourself to thrive. Derek Hough is the epitome of that. Through grueling hours and serious devotion to training, Derek Hough has created a professional dance career unparalleled to most. At the age 12, Hough moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to London, to pursue dancing. From training with the top coaches in the world, a demanding schedule, and an undying passion, Hough quickly became one of the best dancers in the world.
Determination, dedication, and passion is what has driven Hough’s career to the top. His constant pursuit of creating and evolving in his craft has led him to nine Emmy nominations and two Emmy awards for “Best Choreography.” He’s been seen in a global array of stage productions, competitions, films and TV shows, including the ABC dance-competition “Dancing with the Stars,” where he won six seasons. His lifelong hard work has prepared him for his quick-paced, high energy lifestyle.
His latest creation, Derek Hough “Live!” TheTour, spans coast-to-coast with seven other incredibly talented dancers. A huge emphasis in his first solo tour is the musical stylings of a live band, which combines the collaborative creative energy of live dance and music. There are lessons to be learned at every corner when pursuing something with passion, and Hough has taken these lessons to create a show that the audience will not only love to watch, but will love to be a part of.
Jamie Agoglia: With so many career endeavors under your belt from national and global competitions, to televised competitions, to writing a best selling book, what would you mark as the beginning of your career? Where did it all start for you?
Derek Hough: Really my first dance class, I kicked and screamed and didn’t want to go but my Mom made [me]. I had a coach who made it really cool for me; I didn’t know that dance could be fun at that point. That’s kind of where it all began. I trained and went to competitions around the United States which turned into competitions around the world.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career? What have you learned from it?
There has definitely been several [challenges]. A big one being winning a world championship with injured neck; I [could] barely turn it. So I was worried about dancing, let alone winning the whole thing. One competition I had bit my tongue in half [and still had] another round to do. But I did it, it was pretty gruesome and pretty challenging. As far as emotional challenges, there was a show I did in London - 13 shows a week at Radio City Music Hall. That means sometimes [I had] 3 shows a day, and between shows I would be teaching my partner the piece I was choreographing for “Dancing with the Stars”, which we were filming at the same time. On Sundays, I was taking a red-eye to Los Angeles to do all the press and everything for “Dancing with the Stars”, so that was a very challenging. It was fulfilling and an exciting time, but very demanding.
With 9 Emmy nominations, 2 Emmy awards for“Best Choreography”, and wide array of winnings for performing across the world, which side of dance holds your heart now, choreography or performing?
After everything, still both. As a lot of choreographers that I know, they just choreograph, and that’s their passion and their calling and they’re love it; they’re very happy with that. For me, I love choreographing and creating but I equally love performing. I love being on stage and making that relationship with the audience. I’m definitely in performing mode now, but with that said I’m currently in the process of building The Tour. I love choreographing but I love to learn and love to learn other people’s choreography. They go together, so really I love both sides.
What inspired you to create The Tour?
Well, I love doing live performances. I love being in people’s cities, seeing their faces and getting to interact with them. The Tour was started because of my love for live music. I’ve done several tours where we didn’t have a live band on stage with us, so for me that element was a super important part for me to have in The Tour. You can’t replicate a sound of a live guitar solo or whatever it may be. So that was a huge inspiration for me for this show. Also with it being my first solo tour, it’s definitely a challenge. I’m a little afraid of the unknown but for me whenever I’m afraid of that something or a little nervous about something, that’s a project I need to set my eyes on. I’ve realized that any great challenge is a great project to take on. So I’m excited about it, every aspect of it is exciting, from the traveling to the audience and the music, I’m very proud of it. I’m amazed by the intensity of the tour dates.
With 59 live shows, 6 shows a week, how do you mentally prepare for the challenges thatcome with a schedule so incredibly demanding?
I treat it like boot camp when. So when I’m on the road, I have a very strict routine, as far as how many hours of sleep, I wake up at a certain time, start to stretch at a certain time. There’s a whole routine and ritual that I do that keeps me healthy, but also keeps me at my peak to be able to perform every night. I also think that with the years of training, I got used to doing 8 shows a week when I was performing at the West End in London, so I’ve grown up with a grueling and intense schedule, but this one is extra challenging because of the intensity of the dancing.Which part of touring is the most fun for you?Being on stage, that’s what it’s all about. I love that so much, I love the energy before the show, you know, getting ready and pumping the music up.It’s a fun time. Sometimes [artists] complain about doing meet and greets, but me for I love meet and greets. It’s special to be meeting people face to face before the show. I love that interaction and connection and it’s why I do what I do, gives me that energy, that life and soul of the performance.
What elements of The Tour are you most excited about to share with your audience?
I’m really exciting about the cast of dancers I’m working with. They work at such a high level that they push me tremendously. I’m excited for the audience to see [the other dancers], I want to give them their moment and share these amazing performers with the audience. They’re tremendous athletes and amazing artists. Something with this show that I wanted to go more towards is a theatrical viewing and feeling, it’s more intimate and more about the actual dancing than a spectacle. The cast is 4 girls, and 4 guys including me and 3 musicians. We have live percussion and live sax; I feel like those are the elements you can really feel when they’re played live. It’s a full stage with a lot of energy; it’s great.