I’ve always admired how Derek plays this show like the game it is – create memorable dances you love and don’t whine and complain if the scores aren’t what you had hoped. Derek talks about creating memorable dances, neck surgery and whether or not he’s leaving the show after this season. From TV Guide:
How are the dances going?
Hough: Good. I’m very excited about both dances. They’re two very different dances. [The Viennese waltz] — we’re dedicating to veterans who are going to be in the audience and all vets for Veteran’s Day. The trio is going to be something that hasn’t been seen necessarily on this show.
Are you breaking the rules again?
Hough: I don’t know if it’s breaking the rules, but it’s one of those things where it’s Season 15, and I feel like the audience has kind of seen everything, so it’s like, what can we do differently and how can we reinvent something they’ve seen before? That’s sort of what it is. … Last season, for our trio, I did a Bollywood-themed samba, which had never been on the show before. And this season, they included Bollywood, so next season, maybe this will be another style they add. [Laughs]
You’re just pioneering so many things for the show.
Hough: [Laughs] I guess, if you want to call it that!
There are lots of rumors that this is your last season. Can you confirm anything?
Hough: I can’t confirm anything. But no matter what, I’ll always be part of the show. I’ll always be on hand if they need me or want me. But I’m also interested in having time to pursue other things. I’ve taken a season off before, but to do something significant, I think you need more time than three months. But like I said, nothing is definite right now and I’ll always be part of the show. I’m a strong ambassador for it and I’ll always be here for it.
Almost everyone picked you guys to win when the cast was announced. Do you feel pressure to win?
Hough: I don’t feel pressure to win, but I feel pressure to do good dances. Winning — that’s out of your hands, especially when the public vote and judges’ scores are involved. All I can control is doing good work. We’ve done some memorable performances. Whatever happens, I’ll always be proud of our dances this season.
I like that you guys take the risk to break rules knowing that it’s going to be worth it for the entertainment value and not complaining about getting docked afterward.
Hough: I feel like because it’s Season 15, we have to push the rules. Quite honestly, I could’ve done routines that were less interesting, easier and ones the judges probably would’ve liked more in terms of [following] the rules, and we could’ve maybe gotten better scores. But I realized after doing the show for so long that the scores only last as long as the season. You can get a perfect score and get eliminated. After the season is finished, what lasts forever are the dances. I always tell my partners, “Let’s not dance for scores. Let’s dance for YouTube videos.” Two years down the line, when you’re sitting at home having a glass of wine and you stumble upon a video of your cha-cha, you’re like, “Oh, my God! I loved that dance!” That’s what I want.
Some fans think you’re putting too many gymnastics tricks into your routines, but there’s no rule saying you can’t use your partner’s strengths to your advantage.
Hough: Right. As a choreographer, I think our job is to hide weaknesses and show strengths. Everyone has different strengths. I know when Shawn first did the show, she maybe did two things that were acrobatic and I just wanted to see what else I could do to showcase her and her athletic ability. I’ve been trying to take advantage of that as much as I possibly can just because she can do them. It would be a crime to not do more with that. Having said that, we don’t do them just to do them. They still have to fit in with the routine. I don’t choreograph the routines around flips and tricks.