Julianne Hough was in full go mode, getting up early to do interviews before returning to rehearsals for Move – Beyond – Live on Tour, the jaunt she’s doing with her brother, Derek, that began in April.
“We’re basically learning two, two and a half numbers a day,” Hough says. “It’s not just physically demanding. It’s mentally demanding and exhausting, too.”
Getting ready for the tour, the third for the dancing siblings, presented some new challenges for the experienced Hough.
“We’re doing some different kind of things we’ve never done before,” she says. “We’re not just dancing. We’ve got these boxes we move around. I know that sounds kind of lame, but they’re big and hard to move. We’ve got this jungle gym contraption that we do parkour work on. I’ve got this harness that the guys swing back and forth that I hang from. It’s a very athletic show.”
The rapid-fire rehearsals are nothing new. The Houghs start doing choreography for their shows about a month before they’re set to hit the stage. In part, Hough says, because the duo has such a strong connection that they don’t need to begin earlier.
“When Derek and I dance together and when we choreograph, we don’t even talk much,” she says. “We just start moving and the piece comes together. And when we’re dancing together, we have a connection, a physical connection, that’s so natural and strong that when I dance with other people sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.”
Move – Beyond – Live differs from the Houghs’ previous tours in ways that should add some emotional depth to the performances and the audience perception.
“On the first two, there was no through-line story,” Hough says. “It’s somewhat the same for this one. But we’re trying to incorporate our journey, how we got here and what it takes. It’s definitely not like an actual story when you’re seeing a play. But we have definite meaning in different acts in the show.”
Part of that story was revealed on Dancing with the Stars, when the Houghs did a piece, set to a re-mix of an X Ambassadors song, that told through chaotic, passionate movement the tale of their parents’ divorce.
But Hough said the show isn’t just the siblings’ autobiography in motion. Rather, she said, it aims at using their experiences to inspire others.
“You can accomplish anything you want to do, if you put your heart and soul into it and have good people around you” is the message, she says. “We’re trying to encourage people to get out and do what they can do, what they want to do. That’s our mission, to inspire people to do things they’ve been putting off doing.”
The show, with a 15-minute intermission, should run about two hours, Hough says.
“It’s a long show but it goes by quickly, she says. “It’s action packed. There’s ballroom, Latin, hip-hop dancing, singing. We have people come up on stage. Derek and I go out into the audience. We get people up and moving. That’s our slogan, ‘Motion is emotion.’ The way you move affects the way you feel. And moving in the show will make you feel good. It’s kind of a rock concert for dance.”
Hough says she doesn’t have a favorite among dance styles, but tries to bring the most appropriate feel to each.
“Different styles kind of elicit a different emotion,” she says. “When a salsa song comes, I’m super playful, fun and energetic. When a song comes on that requires me to do more contemporary, it’s more emotional. Most people got to know us through Latin ballroom. People get excited when they watch us doing that. But what’s exciting is we’re doing so much more.”
Hough, whose popular breakthrough came via Dancing with the Stars, winning seasons four and five with partners Apolo Ohno and racecar driver Helio Castroneves before becoming the show’s fourth permanent judge in 2014. She kept judging as the tour rolled on. That made the tour even more demanding for the ultra-fit Hough.
“I remember the first two times, I had to load up on so many calories that I would burn off,” she says. “This one’s more demanding. I might have to eat even more. I can do that, too.”
Julianne and Derek Hough: Move – Beyond – Live On Tour, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 10, $38.50-$204.