Derek Hough is speaking out after Dancing With the Stars announced Tuesday that the former pro competitor would be joining the upcoming 29th season as a judge. Sitting behind the judges' table with Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, Hough will take the place of Len Goodman, who will weigh in virtually on the season from his home in the U.K. due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
"Cat's out of the bag," Hough wrote on Instagram alongside the official announcement. "Looking forward to being Back in the Ballroom." The World of Dance star added that DWTS will always be "incredibly special" to him, and has provided him with "amazing relationships, growth, triumphs, failures, struggles, fears, celebrations, fun and just pure entertainment."
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"I look forward to returning as a judge," he concluded. "I hope to be fair, fun, encouraging, honest, helpful, compassionate and I look forward to watching these amazing journeys unfold. See you soon. And good luck to all the competitors this season. Work Hard! Have Fun!"
Hough will be judging several of his former pro colleagues, as Sharna Burgess, Peta Murgatroyd, Val Chmerkovskiy, Cheryl Burke, Keo Motsepe, Jenna Johnson, Alan Bersten, Brandon Armstrong, Sasha Farber, Pasha Pashkov, Emma Slater, Gleb Savchenko and Artem Chigvintsev take to the dance floor for another season, as do newcomers Britt Stewart and Daniella Karagach.
The pros will be matched with former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, The Real's Jeannie Mai, Netflix's Cheer coach Monica Aldama, Grammy-winning rapper Nelly, Selling Sunset's Chrishell Stause, Disney Channel star Skai Jackson, One Day at a Time actress Justina Machado, Tiger King's Carole Baskin, Desperate Housewives alum Jesse Metcalfe, Catfish host Nev Schulman, Volcano actress Anne Heche, NBA All-Star Charles Oakley, Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, Backstreet Boys' AJ McLean and former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe.
"This show has been and will always be incredibly special to me," Hough, a six-time Mirrorball Trophy winner, also said in a statement to PEOPLE Tuesday. "Coming back feels like coming home and I couldn’t be more excited to be back in the ballroom." Hough's first stint as a judge comes during the first season in which Tyra Banks will act as host after replacing longtime co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews in July. Dancing With the Stars Season 29 premieres on Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Check out more news about the upcoming season from PopCulture.com here.