Nastia Liukin of 'DWTS' Learns a Thing or Two About Dancing For the Fun of It From Derek Hough

Pam WrightLife

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Nastia Liukin, who has become the darling of season 20 of Dancing With the Stars, is relying on partner Derek Hough to help her with one flaw in her dancing.

Nastia Liukin is at the golf of the leaderboard and received the first nine of the season with Hough; however, while she has no trouble with the dance moves, she is struggling with showing emotion in her dancing.

During a recent interview with Chicago Now, the former Olympic gymnast shared how Derek Hough helped her dig deep to discover a new side of herself that has translated into a more emotional interpretation of the music to which she dances.

“Derek has really brought me out of my shell and I’m grateful for that,” Liukin said. “He’s an amazing partner and I’m so lucky to be partnered with him. It wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t him.”

According to Nastia Liukin, Derek Hough wants her to forget her gymnast training that relies primarily on perfecting body movements and instead wants her to feel the music. He also wants her to forget about the competition and work on connecting with her audience.

“I’m not one to let go and just start dancing, so it’s been interesting. I was very stoic and serious when I competed. Derek is telling me to relax and have fun and I’m all, ‘Oh yeah, right.’ It’s a chance to show different side of me, one that I haven’t really seen much of myself,” she said.

Case in point is Rumor Willis, who found out how important her fans are to the competition. After commenting that she and her partner didn't really have any competition on the season, she experienced a backlash from fans, thereby hurting her scores.

Derek Hough said he was very proud of Liukin’s second Dancing with the Stars performance, even though they didn't have much time to practice.

“It was a pretty hectic week last week and it’s only going to get crazier, so to come out and kill it like she did last night was so awesome and encouraging. I was nervous because I hadn’t seen her the whole weekend until Monday morning,” he said.

Pam Wright