Derek Hough: Live! The Tour was a celebration of art and expression


Snuggled up on the old brown couch that has since been moved downstairs, my mom and I piled the blankets on as we contentedly awaited our weekly tradition.

Soon, our show came on, and we were met by the familiar faces of Len Goodman, Carrie Ann, and Bruno Tonioli. We made a game out of guessing the scores each judge of Dancing with the Stars would give. Largely ignoring “the stars,” my mom and I always had one favorite professional dancer on the show, despite his questionable hair choices which thankfully improved with time: Derek Hough.

In the years between then and now, Hough has been busy. He was on Dancing with the Stars nonconsecutively for almost a decade and won two Emmys for his unique choreography. Hough was personally selected by Jennifer Lawrence to judge World of Dance, just finishing its third season. He expanded into acting and singing, most notably playing Corny Collins in Hairspray Live! Hough also did a dance tour with his sister. Currently, he is back at it again, this time alone, with his dance tour titled Derek Hough Live! The Tour.

Four days before the Grand Rapids show, I realized just who was coming into town. 24 hours before the show, my mom and I purchased reasonably priced tickets with a perfect view of the stage. Six hours before the show, I couldn’t contain my excitement and rattled off Hough’s full biography and credentials to anyone who was polite enough to pretend to listen.

I won’t go into all the extraneous details, but Hough didn’t start dancing until he was eleven. Anybody who is a somebody in the dance industry started dance as soon as they could walk. For Hough to start that late in his childhood, it makes his immense success all that more impressive.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

— Derek Hough

And impressive would be an understatement of Derek Hough Live! The Tour. Hough was joined by seven other dancers who all excel in a variety of styles just as he does. One of these dancers is Charity Anderson, one half of the duo that was a finalist during season two of World of Dance. During her time on World of Dance, I paid avid attention to this amazing dancer. Seeing her on tour with her former mentor exposed a whole new side of to her dancing, showing off skills and styles I hadn’t known her capable of.

Some of the styles showcased in this tour were lyrical, jazz, tap, and ballroom. In regards to tap, Hough and one of his dancers recreated the arduously difficult “Moses” duo from Singing in the Rain. They were up and down and all around as they elegantly kept up with the music moving their feet faster than a hummingbird beats its wings.

The rest of the numerous numbers in the show were Hough’s own choreography. His creativity stunned me. All of the dancers were featured multiple times, and it was done so very tastefully. Everything about the actual moves, the different texture in the dancing, and even the way the formations changed was enthralling.

A whole new layer was added to the show by Hough’s use of props. While he used a variety of props including a hat and stand, a guitar, and a violin, nothing can outdo the dance with the ladder. Yes, they danced with a full-sized ladder. Who thinks of that? They were climbing and swinging from it all while matching the music. I have no words for what it was; it transcended incredible.

As the closing number approached, I was befuddled. How was Hough going to put together something more spectacular than everything I just witnessed? I was expecting an all-out whirlwind of dance, meshing styles in organized disarray. Instead, I got something better: a heartfelt, uplifting, and emotionally satisfying piece about being enough.

Although Derek Hough Live! The Tour was primarily a dance show, that doesn’t mean he didn’t incorporate other elements in too. Hough sang, played the guitar, and played the drums beautifully alongside the fantastic live band and while he danced.

Furthermore, Hough also incorporated comedy and audience interaction into the show. Using dance, he did small skits as well as brought people up on stage with him. Throughout the whole show, he was so present and lively. When someone screamed “I love you, Derek,” he didn’t ignore it like many celebrities. He didn’t miss a beat when he replied, “I love you too, person I can’t see.”

If I didn’t love Hough before the show, I certainly would now. It was a conglomeration of so many types of art and expression that it is simply incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen before. It was an experience I will never forget.