‘DWTS’: Nastia Liukin Says Derek Hough Brings Out Another Side Of Her

Nastia Liukin is the new Dancing with the Stars favorite after finishing on top of last week’s leaderboard and scoring the first 9 of the season. However, she’s struggling with one aspect of dancing that her pro partner Derek Hough is working hard to help her with.

Nastia Liukin seemingly has no trouble learning routines and moving her body, but she revealed a big weakness during the first two episodes of Dancing with the Stars — she has a hard time showing real emotion while she dances. During a recent interview with Chicago Now, Nastia explained how Derek helped her discover a whole new side of herself while she tried to get more in touch with her emotional side.

“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 the former Olympic gymnast, Derek Hough doesn’t want her to treat DWTS like a competition that’s all about good form and getting her steps right — he wants his partner to have fun out there. Derek also knows that Nastia needs to be more expressive if she hopes to emotionally connect with the viewers. This is very important for overall scores — there are many DWTS fans who choose to give their votes to the most personable celebrities instead of the most talented celebrities.

“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.”

As the Inquisitr previously reported, former frontrunner Rumer Willis found out just how important it is not to treat DWTS like a cutthroat competition when she made a somewhat cocky comment about how she didn’t see any of the other competitors as being a real threat. Fans were not happy with her words, and their reaction served as a reminder that they play a very important part in deciding the outcome of Dancing with the Stars. If viewers think Nastia comes off as being too serious or boring, they might not vote for her.

In his most recent TV Guide blog post, Derek Hough said that he’s very proud of Liukin’s second Dancing with the Stars performance. He also revealed that he and his partner didn’t get to see each other for two full days before the morning of the competition.

“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.”

Nastia Liukin has to schedule her rehearsals around her college classes at NYU, and Derek Hough is very busy with the New York Spring Spectacular. This is why the partners have such a hard time finding time to practice together. According to Derek, their clashing schedules also made it very difficult for him to create a routine for tomorrow night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars — he’s used to coming up with choreography on the fly while he practices with his partner, but he was forced to come up with a routine all by his lonesome this week.

You can see if Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough’s crazy schedules have a negative effect on their scores when they perform the samba Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

[Image credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty]