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Derek Hough is ready for a night of dancing under the stars

'Dancing With the Stars' performer Hough will sing and dance as part of the California Philharmonic's Festival on the Green in Arcadia. He can't wait.

July 26, 2013|By Susan King | This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
  • Derek Hough and Emma Slater, on "Dancing With the Stars."
Derek Hough and Emma Slater, on "Dancing With the Stars." (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

"Dancing With the Stars" dancer-choreographer extraordinaire Derek Hough will be dancing under the stars when he joins the California Philharmonic on Saturday at the Festival on the Green at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia for an evening of music and dance called "Dance Fever."

But while people may come for the dancing, the performance (repeating indoors Sunday afternoon at Walt Disney Concert Hall) will mark a personal milestone for Hough: It will be the first time he sings with a symphony orchestra.

Hough, 28, said it was a "no-brainer" decision to perform with the California Philharmonic.

"It was such a great venue at the Disney Concert Hall and Santa Anita and dancing with a world-class symphony," Hough said.

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Hough was on the phone from the "DWTS" rehearsal hall in Hollywood, taking a break from choreographing his two numbers for the concert with his partner, Emma Slater, who also appears on the long-running ABC competition series.

Hough will be dancing a pasodoble to an excerpt from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and a jive to the Glenn Miller standard "In the Mood." His singing set will include a duet with singer BC Jean of the Oscar-winning tune "Falling Slowly" from the movie "Once."

Though primarily known for his dancing, Hough is an accomplished singer who performed on London's West End in 2006 in "Footloose: The Musical."

"It's been a long time since I have sung," Hough said. "That is part of the reason why I did it, because I wanted to get back in vocal shape. What a place to start. It's a big venue for me, but that is the best thing to do — throw yourself in the deep end. That's how you will improve the fastest."

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"Dance Fever" is the third of five pops concerts this summer from the California Philharmonic. In addition to Hough, the weekend's program will feature tributes to Elvis Presley, ABBA and Michael Jackson as well as performances of "Dance of the 7 Veils" and the traditional Jewish folk standard "Hava Nagila."

A longtime fan of "DWTS," music director Victor Vener said he thought Hough would be a perfect fit with the California Philharmonic. "I don't know ballroom dancing from a hole in the wall, but Derek is a genius," he said.

"I watched this guy, and what was so impressive about him was that he wasn't there [on the series] just showing off, as many of the other professional dancers were. I couldn't tell you if he's a better dancer than [Mark] Ballas or anybody else on the show, but I can tell you his choreography is superior to all."

The energetic dancer's innovative choreography has earned Hough five Emmy nominations and helped him become the only four-time champion in "DWTS" history, guiding Brooke Burke, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Grey and, last spring, Kellie Pickler to win the Mirror Ball Trophy.

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Among his most memorable dances was a 2011 waltz with Ricki Lake set to Bernard Herrmann's score to "Psycho." And last season, Hough left viewers breathless with his clever update to Fred Astaire's famous dancing on the ceiling routine from 1951's "Royal Wedding." His choreography was just nominated for an Emmy.

Hough said one of the things he loves about "Dancing With the Stars" is seeing the personalities of his partners change as they become more secure and confident as dancers during the season. He would like to help bring that type of confidence to as many people as he can reach. "I wanted that connection," he said.

"I'd like to do Broadway if the right project came along, but my mission in life is that I want to help change people's lives. It's about finding something [inside themselves] that they didn't know existed."

Hough is in talks with a major publisher for a book next year that he hopes will inspire people to realize their full potential. "The book is just my sharing my experiences and anecdotes," he said.

The TV series, a book and this week's performances aren't all that is on his plate. Hough has various production deals in the works, including a scripted series that he and his sister, "DWTS" alum Julianne Hough, are producing for Starz and BBC Worldwide set in the world of competitive ballroom dancing in Blackpool, England.

"We are in the early stages," Derek Hough said. "We found a writer and we're very excited."

He also is executive producer of a GSN pilot for a series called "Dance Rivals," which revolves around two respected dance studios in Orem, Utah. And Hough hosts an upcoming ABC special, "Family Dance Off," which featured six families putting on their dancing shoes and competing for prize money. "It's a really feel-good show," he said.

Of course, he'll be back for the new season of "Dancing With the Stars," which begins Sept. 16. This year, the series has eliminated the often snoozy Tuesday results show and will just air Monday evenings.

The change has energized Hough. "I really feel like it's going to be a much better show," he noted. "It's going to be high impact and nonstop."

California Philharmonic 'Dance Fever'

Where and when: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Festival on the Green at Santa Anita Race Track and 2 p.m. Sunday at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Cost: $20-$100

Info: or (626) 300-8200

[Friday, July 26, 2:35 p.m.: An earlier version of this article referred to Derek Hough's current partner on "Dancing With the Stars" as Emma Slate. It is Emma Slater. Also, it said that his choreographer on the competition show was nominated for an Emmy. Hough's choreography on "Dancing With the Stars" has been nominated for an Emmy.]


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