Derek Hough On Pressure, Partners, and Predictions 0

Derek Hough and Emma Slater at Mohegan Sun Casino in CT

Image: Mohegan Sun

Five-time Dancing With the Stars champion Derek Hough’s feet have hardly stopped moving since he and partner Amber Riley won the title and coveted Mirror Ball Trophy last season. This weekend, he and fellow DWTS pro Emma Slater appeared at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. That’s Your Reality chatted with him about the special projects he’s been working on and what we can expect in 2014.

Though Derek enjoyed spending quality time with his nieces and nephews over the holidays, he was back to work early in the New Year, training with Misty Copeland, a featured soloist with the American Ballet Theater. The two are working on a special routine that Misty will perform at the Youth American Grand Prix Gala, which will be held at Lincoln Center in April.

So impressed was he, as a matter of fact, Derek names Misty on his short list of dream partners on the show. “She’s just such an amazing dancer.”

When it comes to his previous partners, Derek talked about the difference between being paired with someone with no experience versus someone coming from a dance background. Model Joanna Krupa, for example, came in with no expectations, which allowed the pair to enjoy every routine. “Each dance we did it was like, ‘Sweet! They liked it!’ and we had fun.”

By contrast, while experienced dancers allow the Pros to try more new things and elevated skills, they also come with added pressure. “When you have someone like Nicole Scherzinger, you knew that everything has to be good,” he says.

Though Derek admits that some of the Pros on the show discuss their predictions about who might be paired with whom for next season, he’s not among those guessing. “I don’t want to know even a day earlier,” he says with a laugh.

While it’s hard to imagine this show without its most successful champion vying to make it three Mirror Ball Trophies in a row, few details are confirmed about the show’s 18th season, which will debut on March 17th.  “I know there’s a few things coming back, but I really can’t say too much,” Derek teased.

As we wait for confirmation on whether those “few things” include Derek Hough, fans of the Emmy-winning choreographer should keep an eye on the US Olympic Ice Dancing team. Though he won’t be competing for a gold medal in the games, Derek worked on a routine for Team USA’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Read our interview with fellow Dancing With The Stars pro Emma Slater here! Follow @thtsyourreality for all your DWTS updates!