Tonight’s episode of World of Dance, appropriately titled “The Cut,” has the show’s judges — Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough, and NE-YO — making some tough decisions as they vote off some performers, leaving only the three highest-scoring acts in each division. Those acts will move onto the Division Finals as they vie for that grand prize of a whopping $1 million!
Also, look out for Mel B (America’s Got Talent) to appear in tonight’s show. She’ll join forces with NE-YO in mentoring the Junior Division while guest Paula Abdul (American Idol) teams with host Jenna Dewan to mentor the Upper Team Division.
'You don’t have to be a dancer yourself to feel moved by these performances,' says Jenna Dewan Tatum, host and mentor of the new competition series 'World of Dance' from NBC and Jennifer Lopez.
Read on to get the scoop from Hough on why he took on the role of judge, why he loves touring and meeting his fans, and if he’ll ever do a variety show with his sister Julianne!
What made you say yes to this show?
Derek Hough: People asked me why are you doing another dance show? I’d say just wait till this comes out. The talent is on another level. This truly is the next level of shows that are about dancing. Being a competitor throughout the world myself since I was 12 years old, I love the idea of opening up a dance competition to the entire planet. I love the different styles that have come onto the show. You’re always seeing an amazing performance because they’re at their peak after working hard for years to get to where they are now.
Some of the dances are so creative they remind me of – and I mean this in the best way possible – what Mark Ballas would come up with in Week 7 of Dancing With the Stars!
[Laughs] Yes. The choreography is just so good. These dancers are at their best when they come onto the show. When you give someone a platform to do what they do best amazing things can happen. That’s what we’ve been seeing.
The new season of the reality competition show begins on Sept. 24.
The judges are solely responsible for determining the winner — no viewer votes. How much pressure is there since the grand prize is so much money?
It’s a million bucks! I said to the producers, ‘Please let the audience vote!’ What I love about the show is that acts can come back. In fact, dancers are encouraged to come back. It’s like professional tennis. If you lose at Wimbledon one year, then you can come back the next. You can go back into the studio and strategize. There are groups this year that have done that. They’ve improved tremendously and it’s cool to see that.
Most of the pro dancers I’ve interviewed are against speaking harshly to dancers who are very young. How do you feel about that?
My feeling is if you’re going to walk out on our stage and put yourself out there to show us your passion, then that has to be respected. We want everyone to succeed. What’s great about young kids is that some of them are ridiculously talented and frighteningly good! If they’re not quite up to par, we’ll tell them to go back and work more and that it’s within them to succeed. That’s the message we want to get across.
It does nobody any good to say to someone ‘Oh, that’s crap.’ We’ve never actually seen anyone on the show who’s been bad — just some who are better than others. I don’t want to get too deep, but I hope we’re moving into a place where we need to be more supportive of one another and feed each other’s dreams instead of breaking them.
Dance shows can have backstage drama and personalities that clash, but at the end of the day a show’s success will always come back to what happens on the dance floor. Do you agree?
Yes. Personally, having been on television now for over a decade, which is wild to think about, it comes down to [living] the life I want to lead and what I want to be a part of. I want to be a force for good. I’m really, really proud of the show and what it represents. The creativity is something else. I’ve never sat and watched myself as a judge — [Laughs] I make some really crazy faces!
The chemistry between judges on a reality competition show can be vital to a show’s success; how would you describe your chemistry with Jennifer and NE-YO?
We’re all passionate about what we’re doing. We weren’t hired for any other reason. When Jennifer called me to be a judge, her pitch was so heartfelt and so passionate and sincere. For me, it was almost impossible to say no. I connected with that passion. I was like, ‘Yes! Let’s do this!’ We have such a respect and admiration for these incredible artists.
What was it about hip hop dancers Les Twins that enabled them to become the first season winners of World of Dance?
They are so unique. We’d never seen anything like that before. It was hard to compare them to anything else. That’s what gave them an edge, for sure.
You’re going on tour in 2019. It. Looks. Exhausting!
I’m very excited about the tour. I love touring, being on the road, and meeting people. I love the ‘meet and greets’ [after the shows]. It’s funny when I hear stories about people who says they hate ‘meet and greets.’ [Laughs] I’m like, ‘What are you doing them for? We’re on tour to connect [with our audiences]!’
I’ll have amazing dancers and choreographers with me, but this is my first solo tour. I really want to incorporate live music [into the tour]. I’m going to have a live band, there will be high energy. I have time [to prepare this tour]. I’m really excited about it. Originally, it was going to be this fall, but Season 3 of World of Dance got picked up and we’re shooting it [soon] so we had to push it to the spring of next year.
These golden buzzer acts have wowed the judges.
You’ve been on Nashville and done other acting roles. Is there anything you’d like to tackle next?
I’m working on a few things, digitally, that are passion projects. That’ll take me out for the next month or two. Certain things come to me. I’ll look at them and if it’s the right thing I’ll go for it. My life for the last 16 years has been about competition, tours, and shows. It’s been non-stop. I’m not complaining at all. I love it and I love creating, but I’m fortunate enough to have reached this point where I can have more balance. I’m traveling and spending time with family and friends. I love seeing the world and being outdoors. My life has a great balance.
Will we ever see The Derek and Julianne Hough Variety Hour on network TV? It feels like a no-brainer.
I think, yeah! Julianne and I get along so well. We love each other very much. We’re best friends. We have such a great time with each other. I think there will come a time, for sure, [when we do that] but who knows when that might happen?
World of Dance, Wednesdays, 9/8c, NBC