Updated June 26, 2022 - 3:02 pm
Derek Hough jokes onstage about how young his backing dancers are in his “No Limit” show at The Venetian. He’s mentioned a segment from “Singin’ in the Rain,” only to have a performer ask, “What’s that?”
But that cast, and anyone visiting Summit Showroom, need not look any further than Hough and his fiancee, fellow dance pro Hayley Erbert, to experience world-class dance artistry. These two have achieved no less than delivering the modern-day Astaire and Rogers (another reference for the kids to research) to a Strip production.
Hough also sings, plays guitar, tells jokes and generally holds sway of his crowd in the intimate, 742-seat venue. (“No Limit” performs again Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and on select dates through July and August, closing Sept. 10.)
Hough is the only dance pro to headline on the Strip. He brings the credentials. He was a judge on “World Of Dance” for three years ending in 2020. He was a pro dancer on “Dancing with the Stars,” winning six mirrored-ball trophies from 2007-2015. He’s now a member of the show’s judging panel, having won three Emmy Awards for choreography.
That’s not counting his West End turn in “Footloose: The Musical” and more than 100 performances at Radio City Music Hall in “New York Spring Spectacular.”
Some highlights of a recent chat with Hough, as he geared down between shows:
The Vegas test
Hough and Erbert announced their engagement on June 2. Their Vegas residency was a way to gauge their long-term professional and personal comparability, “Last year, when we did Vegas, it was a test. We were like, ‘OK, first of all this is the first time that we are working together consistently.’ How was it going to be, doing shows, each night, living in a hotel together. But we found a rhythm, we found a routine, and we actually love it.”
The ‘where’ of it all
Hough has tossed out the idea of a quickie wedding. His partner is not biting. “I joke around with her. We’re looking at different venues, different places, how much something would cost, and I said, ‘Soooo, how about eloping in Vegas?’ And she just kind of looked at me and I’m like, ‘Yeah, just kidding.’ But nature is important to us. Whatever we do, nature will be involved.”
His world of dance
Hough is expanding his passion for dance to a series that travels the world to study the history of dance. “I have a National Geographic show that I’m creating right now, and it’s based on the fact that every culture, every part of the world, has a dance, and has a history of movement,” Hough said. “I’m going to be traveling to all these places of the world, discovering the originals and where it came from, the history, how it’s evolved and where it is now.” Titled “Dance The World,” the series will feature Hough with a celeb partner, performing dances of the region in which they are visiting. The premiere date is to be announced.
The big dance
Dance is becoming a requirement in Vegas productions. Most Strip residency shows use dance numbers to great artistic effect. Katy Perry, Silk Sonic, John Legend, Usher and Shania Twain are among the recent Strip headliners to present extensive dance numbers. “It’s funny to say this, but 15 years ago, when I first joined ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and I’d mention the paso doble, and the people around me would be like, ‘Did you just swear? What did you just say?’” Hough said. “Now, it’s amazing. It’s everywhere. I’ll go to a basketball game or a football game, and there’ll be a dude in a jersey and a beer in his hand, ‘Yo, Derek, that cha-cha was amazing.’ I say that, because there has been this great showcasing of dance, on TV and in live performances, which is allowing people to fall in love with dance on a deeper level.”
The TikTok social
Hough modified his approach to dance to become a hit on TikTok. “In everything I created, there has always been a sense that it has to be refined, it has to be polished, it has to be nurtured, and then I can release it to the world,” Hough said. “TikTok gave me permission that I can do something in like, five seconds and you can check it out there. It’s all about, ‘Hey, let’s have fun, and not take yourself too seriously.’”
The new audience
Hough says he has fans who know him only from his social media posts. “There is a huge amount of people that come up to me and say, ‘Hey! You’re that TikTok guy!’ and have no idea that, you know, I’ve won Emmy Awards, or been on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ or done West End or Radio City Music Hall,” Hough said. “People say, ‘Doesn’t that annoy you?’ No, absolutely not, because it’s an audience that I wouldn’t even have if it weren’t for social media. I think it’s fantastic.”
Cool Hang Alert
A CHA Hall of Fame act, Yellow Brick Road, returns to Chrome Showroom at Santa Fe Station at 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.) Thursday. The band has churned out classic-rock hits in VegasVille since 1997. Brace yourselves for some sonic nostalgia. No cover, 21-and-over, dance floor (or, if you will, groove deck) is open.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.