Is there ANYTHING that the Hough siblings cannot do? I found myself consistently asking myself this question on July 9th, when I attended a performance of MOVE, the summer touring show that Julianne and Derek Hough headline, at Radio City Music Hall. It thoroughly amazes me that both members of the stunning, charismatic, multi-talented duo are from the same gene pool (correction: multi-million dollar genetic LOTTERY). If they weren’t so likable, sweet, and simply delightful to be around, I feel that it would be tempting for many people to resent how flawless they are; they just have SO much going for them that it’s almost unfair to the rest of the world. Anyway, with that being said, I adore them, and thought that MOVE was brilliant, a ton of fun to experience.
For those who are not familiar with Julianne and Derek Hough, these exceptional siblings are professional dancers, singers, and actors. On television, they have danced with and choreographed for various celebrity partners as part of Dancing with the Stars’ team of highly skilled dancers/experts, and both have led multiple partners to victory. In fact, Julianne now serves as a judge on the show alongside Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, and Carrie Ann Inaba. As a singer, Julianne has released two albums, and as an actress, she has most notably starred as Ariel in the 2011 remake of Footloose, as Sherrie in the 2012 film adaptation of Rock of Ages, and as Katie Feldman/Erin Tierney in Safe Haven (2013). She will soon be starring in Fox’s Grease (live) as Sandy.
Derek has won five seasons of Dancing with the Stars (a record), has acted in stage productions such as Footloose in 2006 (as Ren McCormack) in London’s West End, and has done a variety of work in the film world (e.g.: Make Your Move) and on television (e.g.: Nashville) as well. Both siblings have multiple Emmy nominations, and Derek won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for three routines that he choreographed for Dancing with the Stars in 2013. When it comes to talent and versatility, the Houghs are the mother lode.
MOVE’s content and structure reflected the Hough siblings’ versatility beautifully. Yes, its central focus was dance, but it also incorporating singing, skits, and even motivational speaking, and all of the above were executed with flair and seeming ease by Julianne and Derek. (The motivational speaking was corny and clichéd at times, but Julianne and Derek are so charming and enjoyable to watch onstage that I did not mind much.) In terms of the singing portion of the show, I felt that of the songs sung by Julianne that evening, her rendition of “Firework” was strongest; it flattered her sweet yet surprisingly powerful voice wonderfully. I also enjoyed Derek’s rendition of “Jailhouse Rock,” complete with pelvic thrusts that would have made Elvis himself proud, and watching him bring an audience member onstage to dance with him during this number was incredibly heartwarming.
Additionally, I loved that certain parts of MOVE caused me to begin to see the Houghs as people that audience members can actually relate to rather than as perpetual and untouchable superstars. At one point, Julianne led a skit that (playfully and lovingly) mocked Dancing with the Stars, and I loved that she took a minute to touch upon how ridiculous and simultaneously lovable Bruno Tonioli is. Soon afterward, she led three male audience members onstage to partake in a silly dance contest, and said jokingly, “I know most of the men have been dragged here by their wives, so I’m going to make things a little more interesting for you.” I also loved that during a break between numbers, Derek spoke to the audience about how when he was young, his mother forced him to attend dance classes even though he complained about it and argued with her at first. However, he ended up falling in love with dancing, and became addicted to performing (this made me personally think back to my own experience falling in love with performing as a child).
The show contained more styles of dance than I can count on all ten fingers, ranging from tap to modern hip-hop, and the Houghs demonstrated a mastery of each and every one (while wearing gorgeous costumes that suited each style well). In order to be a successful professional dancer, one must be capable of performing a variety of types of dances. I believe it is incredibly rare for people to be equally phenomenal in every type of dance they practice, and the Houghs are two of the few people on Earth who have actually achieved this feat. I am not a dance expert, but I do believe that they are two of the most fantastic dancers I have ever seen in my life. Julianne and Derek’s backup dancers were also unbelievably gifted and skilled, and each and every one of them could keep up with the duo. I loved that their team of dancers possessed a wide variety of body types and personal styles; it was refreshing to see a collage rather than clones, in my opinion. Julianne, Derek, and their dancers also spiced things up by performing high-risk stunts (flips, lifts, etc.); the fact that professional dancers risk their personal safety every single day to achieve aesthetic beauty through their performances is still so astounding to me.
With its huge amount of dance numbers, which flew by in what seemed like the blink of an eye, MOVE proved Julianne and Derek’s versatility within the dance world (in addition to their versatility as performers in general), and the show’s structure allowed it to flow seamlessly as a whole. By the time the show’s finale, a group number set to “Shut Up and Dance,” arrived, I could not believe the show was already over; time truly flies when you’re having fun. I highly recommend MOVE; it is pure, infectious joy, and so are the Hough siblings. If I were a judge on Dancing with the Stars, I’d give it a 10 out of 10 (I can be corny, too).