Derek Hough is making a much anticipated return to Season 4 of World of Dance alongside Jennifer Lopez and Neyo as the three continue their roles as judges in the new season. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Hough revealed that not only will the bar be raised in its upcoming season, but the format that fans are used to will be "starting a little bit from the grassroots."
"We just recently started filming, and it's so much fun. We had such a blast. We have a different format this year, so we're starting a little bit from the grassroots as far as the rehearsal, the audition process" Hough explained. "Usually, we're just in that big room, and they're right on the show straight away. But we want to actually be a little bit more of the process, and it's been really, really cool! It's been really exciting so far. We're excited to share it with the audience."
In the past, the judges have been judged themselves by the audience and viewers, with fans taking to social media to air their support or disagreement when the judges send a dancer or group home. Though they completely understand how fans are passionate about the show and are welcoming of the sentiment, Hough discloses it's also about encouraging dancers to come back if they don't win the first time around.
"At the end of the day, dancing can be subjective. It's about opinion, it's about the feelings, it's about a fan of somebody," he described after sharing how a "part of it" is also criticism. "If somebody's watching, they're a fan of them, the people get connected with them, that's great! We welcome that. But one thing I will say that I pride, I'm proud to be part of the show [because it focuses] on what's good."
"It's not a tear you down show," he continued. "Even if you don't make it through, it's like, 'Hey, you're incredible, come back!' We've see that. We've seen acts go home in the first season and they come back and win the whole million dollars the second season."
He noted how that ideal is "true competition" for a lot of contestants. "If you don't win the U.S. Open in tennis one year, you train hard, and you come back the next year," he said.
While chatting with PopCulture.com, Hough also wanted to highlight some incredible work a few kids have done in various communities after teaming up with U.S. Cellular to highlight their "The Future of Good" program — one designed to recognize six extraordinary young humanitarians and reward them with $10,000 to further their cause.
"It's awesome. It's really amazing. It's inspiring. And reading the stories and reading about what the youth have done for their communities, and at such a young age too, it's just really truly extraordinary," Hough said.
"They're [U.S. Cellular] not just highlighting it, they're celebrating it," he continued. "They're investing in these young people, by winning $10,000 towards their cost, through their work."
Three kids have already been rewarded, while three more still have yet to be nominated.
"When you read their stories, when you read about what they've done, it's just incredibly inspiring because they see the unfairness in the community, and they see the question you ask, right? 'Why is this happening?'"