Julianne Hough is feeling “nostalgic” ahead of her return to Dancing With the Stars as Alfonso Ribeiro’s cohost — and their off-camera connection makes her new role even sweeter.
“The friendships that are made here are lifelong. It feels like it’s just gonna be, like, a peek into our friendship and our lives,” Hough, 35, told Variety in an interview published on Monday, August 21, of her and Ribeiro’s dynamic. “With this season specifically, we are all so close.”
She explained: “We’ve been friends for over 10 years. It’s like the Friends cast. We’re going to be friends for the rest of our lives.” (Friends ran for 10 seasons on NBC from 1994 to 2004 and the core six actors — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry — have famously remained close pals.)
“It feels kind of nostalgic, like, the band is back together,” Hough said of the upcoming season. “It feels like we’re in the older seasons of Dancing with the Stars, with the wisdom and the knowledge of all the years of experience, but with the sense of nostalgia and home from the earlier seasons.”
In March, Hough was announced as the new cohost for season 32 of DWTS, which premieres on ABC this fall. Hough made her debut on the dancing competition series in 2007 as a pro dancer. After winning back-to-back seasons, she exited the show in 2009.
Hough later returned to the ballroom as a judge in 2014 before once again leaving in 2017. Ribeiro, 51, first crossed paths with Hough in 2014 when he competed on season 19 on which she was a judge. Ribeiro won the mirrorball that season and in July 2022 he returned to DWTS as the full-time host for season 31 alongside Tyra Banks.
Ribeiro is equally as excited to have Hough back on the show. “She knows what it’s like to go through the experience,” he told the outlet. “Julianne has the expertise as a professional that she can really dive into the technical aspects and the heart and the journey, but from a different side. It’s gonna be very exciting to do that.”
This season, the twosome will split hosting duties: Ribeiro will be the emcee on the dance floor while Hough talks to the teams in the skybox after each performance.
DWTS will feel even more familiar to viewers as Julianne and her brother, Derek Hough, will be reunited onscreen once again. Derek, 38, became a full-time judge on season 29 after winning the mirrorball six times as a pro.
Derek initially was a filler for original judge Len Goodman who was stuck in England during the 2020 season because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Derek remained on the show for season 30 alongside Goodman, who retired after season 31 in 2022. (Goodman died in April at age 78.)
Before Julianne was confirmed as the new DWTS cohost, she teased a possible return to the ballroom after being both a pro and a judge.
“Look, never say never, because you never know what one day will be from the next,” Julianne exclusively told Us Weekly in August 2019 when asked if she’d ever come back to the show. “I owe my career to that show! I was 18 and they brought me back in two different ways. I was a dancer, I was a judge and I’m so happy for everything that’s going on there.”
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Dancing With the Stars will air on ABC and Disney+ this fall. Episodes will stream the following day on Hulu.