Derek Hough Reflects on ‘Groundbreaking’ Changes to DWTS


Heavy/Getty "Dancing With the Stars" judge Derek Hough is "excited" about the "groundbreaking" changes coming to the competition series.

“Dancing With the Stars” is going to be different during season 32. “DWTS” judge Derek Hough is “excited” about the “groundbreaking” changes coming to the competition series.

He is joining Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba on the judges’ panel, Julianne Hough — his younger sister — is joining Alfonso Ribeiro as a host, and “DWTS” is returning to ABC.

Hough, 38, told TV Line that late judge Len Goodman — who critiqued performers on “DWTS” from 2005 until his retirement in November 2022 — is irreplaceable. But he might try to “on the technique and the quality” of the dances, just like Goodman used to.

“With my background and my training in ballroom and Latin, I feel that could be something I could communicate,” Hough told TV Line. “I can focus on the more technical aspects.”

Goodman died on April 22, 2023, at the age of 78 after battling bone cancer, his rep told the BBC.

More than anything, Hough said he wants to be authentic.

“I’ll never want to be something I’m not,” he told TV Line. “What’s authentic to me is genuinely wanting couples to improve. I want to encourage them through honesty.”

Hough said he is looking forward to his sister, Julianne Hough, 34, co-hosting with Ribeiro, 51. “I’m super excited about it,” he told TV Line. “She’s fun and vibrant.”

“She and Alfonso will be a powerhouse team. I could see them busting out and doing a dance together,” he told the publication.

Hough added to TV Line that he is “very happy” “DWTS” is coming back to ABC, and will continue to air on Disney+. “I think that there’s definitely [still] an audience on ABC, a very loyal audience that may have missed out on last season,” the dancer told the outlet. “It’s groundbreaking in that I’ll be on both platforms at the same time.”

Overall, Hough teased season 32 of “DWTS” would have more suspense. “There will be a few adjustments to this season that I think will be good,” he told TV Line. “We’ve had discussions. I think it’s going to make the show to be a little more suspenseful.”

Hough, 38, first appeared on “DWTS” as a guest instructor in season 4 and joined the cast during season 5. According to his profile on the “Dancing With the Stars” website, Hough is the most-nominated male choreographer in Television Academy history. He joined the judging panel for the first time in 2020. Hough is the only professional dancer in the series to win six Mirror Ball trophies.

Goodman’s Death Was a ‘Shock’ to the ‘DWTS’ Family

Hough said he and the rest of the “DWTS” crew had a feeling Goodman was weakening.

“We sensed his fragility, but we had no idea the extent of it. This was a huge shock for all of us,” Hough told Extra. “He’s a special guy… We definitely lost somebody really special.”

Hough said to the publication that he wants to “honor” Goodman, his late mentor, during season 32 of “DWTS.”

Hough Is Going Through a Personal Change, Too

“Dancing With the Stars” isn’t the only thing that’s evolving for Hough. He told Extra that he’s going to be getting married in August. Except, it might have been a slip of the tongue.

“The wedding is also this fall. August,” Hough told Extra. “It’s the first time I’ve said that actually, so I probably get in trouble with the wife.”

Hough and his fiancee, Hayley Erbert, have been engaged since July 2022.

As far as their first dance is concerned, Hough doesn’t want it to be choreographed.

“We want to feel good and comfortable, but we don’t need to be perfect,” Hough told Brides. “That’s a lot less important to me than just looking into her eyes as we’re rocking back and forth. I want to feel truly present in that moment.”

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