Winner of a record five seasons of ABC’s hit dance-competition series Dancing with the Stars, Derek Hough is a professional latin and ballroom dancer and choreographer who has been clinching awards for over ten years. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, the 29-year-old talent comes from a family of dancers, including his parents and all four grandparents. In 2013, Hough won the Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Choreography for three of his routines in Dancing With the Stars. This month, he will star alongside Laura Benanti in the Rockettes’ New York Spring Spectacular, which runs through May 3 at Radio City Music Hall. New York City Monthly was honored to speak with him recently…
You’ve said “it’s going to be like nothing they’ve seen me in before” in reference to the New York Spring Spectacular. What are some of the biggest differences for you performing in a full stage production like this versus the other projects in your career?
There is nothing like performing at Radio City Music Hall. The Great Stage has featured some of the most esteemed artists and performers in the world. The production itself is unlike anything I have ever experienced before . . . from working with the incredible Rockettes to having the chance to dance in a rainstorm on stage . . . it’s going to be a magical experience for the audience and I can’t wait to share it. New York Spring Spectacular is a true celebration of New York City!
How involved were you in the creation process of the choreography for the show?
It’s been a true pleasure to work with New York Spring Spectacular’s incredible director and choreographer, Warren Carlyle. I’m always interested in collaborating and working with other dance creatives, but this show is truly his vision that we are responsible for bringing to life. In addition to the choreography, the show features several cutting edge elements that will excite audiences. We have large-scale puppets (voiced by stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), digital mapping inside the theater and GPS enabled kites that fly right over the audience.
Some of New York’s biggest legends are involved in the production, how did it feel being asked to take on the role of Jack?
It’s a true honor to be involved in New York Spring Spectacular. I live in Los Angeles, so the opportunity to be in New York City and working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and Broadway is unbelievable. I jumped at the chance to star alongside the Rockettes, Laura Benanti, Jared Grimes and Lenny Wolpe. The level of talent on the stage is unimaginable and we all push ourselves to be better performers each and every day.
What’s the most exciting part about your favorite number from the show?
One of my favorite numbers in New York Spring Spectacular is “Singing in the Rain,” which is a tap number with the Rockettes and Jared Grimes. In this performance in the show, creators of New York Spring Spectacular were actually able to make it rain! Dancing in a rainstorm on the Radio City Music Hall stage is a completely new challenge for me and one that I’ve had so much fun with.
While not on stage, how do you plan to spend your time in New York City?
When I’m not on stage for New York Spring Spectacular, I’ll be in a rehearsal studio prepping for Live performances on Dancing with the Stars for Season 20. It will be a demanding schedule to appear at both Radio City Music Hall and on Dancing with the Stars, which means flying back and forth between New York and LA every week. I couldn’t imagine missing out on DWTS and am very lucky that the timing worked out with New York Spring Spectacular. I can’t thank Weinstein Live Entertainment and MSG Entertainment enough for making that happen.
Can you give us any insight to some projects you have lined up or things you hope to be a part of moving forward with your career?
Following New York Spring Spectacular and Dancing with the Stars, my sister Julianne and I will be touring the U.S. with our new show, MOVE: LIVE ON TOUR 2015. It’s going to feature brand new, vibrant choreography and the tour will even bring me back to Radio City Music Hall on July 9. It’s going to feel like home when we perform there. I can’t wait!
After immersing yourself in the wonders of NYC in the story of the New York Spring Spectacular, what are your three recommendations for visitors in town this spring?
- One of my favorite landmarks of New York City is the historic Grand Central Terminal. In my opinion, it’s completely worthwhile to take the time to see the beauty of one New York City’s largest train stations.
- I love to get outside and walk around New York City and take in the atmosphere and the energy of this place. The electricity and the feel of this town is something I find inspiring.
- Come see me in the New York Spring Spectacular, of course!