Derek Hough: Biography of a Song and Dance Man (continued)
From 1998-2004, Derek danced competitively under the tutelage of Shirley and Corky Ballas. His competitive dancing took him to many foreign countries, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the US. He had several partners, but his longest partnership was with Aneta Pietrowska, with whom he won many major dance competitions ranging in placements from number twelve to number one. (Usually there are several hundred entrants in these competitions.) The partnership ended when the personal relationship between the two fizzled.
Derek with competition partner, Aneta Pietrowska
“It’s quite a juice story! Basically we fell apart personally, so “business” fell apart too. She got a dance partner who was a professional, but was allowed to come back to amateur, and I got a partner who was like number 96 or something, and was unknown to everyone [Rosa Filippello}. But, we worked hard and to cut a long story short we ended up beating them and winning!” (Aneta went on to participate in, and win in, Season 4 of Poland’s version of Dancing With the Stars.)
Derek’s biological parents allowed Derek to continue his stay in the UK, along with his dance competitions, though he would only see them 2 to 3 times a year. Though his father had said that he would go to England to bring Derek home, for a variety of reasons, it never happened. However, his dad would travel to London to see Derek’s performances. “My dad’s always been a traveling man, so he’s come to see pretty much every major event I’ve been in.”
Derek began to pursue a career in music with his new ‘brother’ Mark. At first however, he had to learn to appreciate his friend’s taste in music. Derek was a Beach Boys fan, and Mark was into rock music and heavy metal.
“I hated all that music until I met Mark…. Until that point, I wasn’t allowed to listen to bands like Nirvana…He got me into it and I actually crowd-surfed at a Korn concert at Wembley Arena…. I remember it clearly! Ever since then, I’ve been into metal, rock music and stuff. We did the long hair. We just kinda grew out of it. We still love it. I think growing up in London helped us because the style there is very eclectic.”
The two went on to learn how to play guitar, began writing their own songs, and not much later, they formed their own pop rock trio, along with his sister Julianne. It was called 2B1G (two boys and one girl). His sister, Julianne says, “We were in this bubblegum pop group when I was 12-years-old. It was the cheesiest music and lyrics. We were dancing and singing at the same time with those wireless microphones on our head. So bad, and we were all so miserable. I wanted to sing country and my brother and Mark wanted to sing alternative rock. We were totally doing this against our wills (laughs).”
In 1999, Derek and Mark formed a band called Almost Amy, a band with a drummer, ”…. It’s just so funny because we first started playing punk rock, then it evolved into metal and hard rock, kinda heavier and had a different drummer for that. Then they moved away and we got into more jazzy, funk stuff…
We went through every phase…We would be, like Goth, black hair, makeup, fingernails painted, baggy jeans. We would scare everybody (at dance competitions). We would show up all scattered out…
To play gigs in London, we often had to take the Tube…We’d carry all our gear — amps, guitars, keyboards — down those mile-long escalators and onto the train. For a while, we were doing that almost every weekend!”
Later, joining Derek and Mark in the Almost Amy band was Harry Sullivan, whose parents were close with the Ballas family. He played drums. Later a classmate from the Italia Conti School, Emily Grace joined them on piano and keyboard. The final member was Sam Marder, a bassist.
Writing and recording songs for his Almost Amy band was how Derek spent much of his spare time while in the UK. Music was, and is, his passion. He also enjoys aggressive sports, like wakeboarding, and he’s a huge movie buff.
“When I go to America, we have a houseboat, and all my cousins and I go there and do wakeboarding, which is where you get pulled behind a boat on a board and you curve in and out of the waves. It’s the most fun thing in the world! But it’s not the best thing to do when you’re dancing, in case you get injured…
’’I’ll watch DVDs until the cows come home, and I’ll always try to go to the movie theatre when there’s a spare couple of hours. I really like deep films, but at the same time corny stuff that leaves you with a smile on your face is great too”.
The Biography of a Song and Dance Man continues – Pursuing a Career