Singing with a star

Singing with a star

‘Dancing with the Stars’ champion Derek Hough does a little song and dance with CalPhil Saturday

By Carl Kozlowski 07/25/2013

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The perfect place to celebrate National Dance Day Saturday is at Santa Anita Park, though attendees shouldn’t expect dancing horses at the venerable race track.

Rather, they’ll be treated to the latest show by the California Philharmonic — “Dance Fever” — as the renowned orchestra welcomes the top male dancer from ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Derek Hough, for an evening of singing and dancing under the stars.

Hough has been a popular presence on the TV competition for 10 seasons, winning four times, and is also a world champion dancer of Latin American styles. But this weekend’s show marks his symphonic singing debut, the latest effort to keep his career eclectic and exciting.

“This is my first time singing in this environment, and my first time singing publicly in years,” says Hough, 28. “I’m nervous about it, also excited. I did it because it’s an honor to do it with such an amazing orchestra. I wasn’t really prepared for it but I did it knowing that throwing myself in the deep end like this will help me raise my standards.”
A Utah native, Hough was the lone boy among five children, and he and his younger sister, Julianne, both developed a passion for dancing at early ages. While their parents weren’t professional dancers themselves, they met while on a ballroom dancing team in college.

Derek showed musical talent from an early age, singing and drumming at 8 with a Beach Boys tribute band that otherwise consisted of teenagers. But even then, his dancing drew more attention.
“I liked to sing Hound Dog and moved my hips like Elvis, which was funny because my dad said no pelvic thrusts,” laughs Hough. “It wasn’t that they were uptight, but just that I was 8 years old and a little young for it, but now it’s how I make my living.”

Both Derek and Julianne were sent to live in London to live and study with top dance coaches Corky and Shirley Ballas. While Julianne returned to the US after five years and also became a “Dancing with the Stars” champion as well as an actress, Derek continued his studies there for a full decade, and his efforts paid off with the lead role in the original 2006 West End theatrical adaptation of the hit movie “Footloose.”

Since then, he has starred on Broadway in “Burn the Floor” and co-founded the Ballas Hough Band, in which he shared lead vocals, played guitar and had several songwriting credits on the rock group’s major-label CD.

At Saturday’s show, he’ll be singing the song “Falling Slowly” from the movie “Once” along with a cover of Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good,” as well as dancing for two numbers: “Romeo and Juliet” by Prokoviev and “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller.

“I’m into anything that makes sense, that’s the right project,” says Hough. “I don’t want to get into something for the sake of doing something. That doesn’t work for me. What I really want to do is inspire people now that they have more social confidence from dancing or a better marriage. I always want to perform but want to improve your life somehow. That’s what it’s all about. I want to do that with thousands of people, reach out and touch a broad band of people.”

Derek Hough performs with CalPhil in “Dance Fever” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Santa Anita Race Track, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia. Tickets are $20 to $88. The show will also be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. For more information, call (626) 300-8200 or visit


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