He’s back and better than ever! That’s right, Derek Hough is returning to the ballroom for a brand new role on Season 29 of Dancing With The Stars. Instead of showing off his moves, the 35-year-old is actually hanging up his dancing shoes and taking a seat at the judges table next to Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli this year.

“I already have a great relationship with them — I’ve known them for years,” Derek told People about his fellow DWTS judges. “We’ve been chatting. We’re supposed to be eight feet apart from each other at the judges’ desk, so that’s going to be a long desk.”

He added, “There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties this season, but I’m excited to see the solutions and see how we’re all going to do it.”

As fans know, Season 29 of the reality competition show is set to premiere on Monday, September 14, and has a star-studded celebrity lineup including one former Disney Channel star, a boyband singer, a Bachelorette star, a few familiar ladies from Netflix documentaries, some sports legends and more.

“I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve been in that experience on the dance floor so I know what it takes,” Derek explained when dishing on his role as a judge. “I think that will allow me to be straight and be like, ‘Listen, you have to do this. If you don’t do this, this is not going to happen.’ I think that because I’ve had that experience and I’ve been in that place perhaps it’ll be received in a way where [they’re like] ‘Maybe I should listen.'”

For those who missed it, Derek was announced as the brand new Dancing With The Stars judge during GMA on Tuesday, September 8.

“This show has been and will always be incredibly special to me,” he said in a statement. “Coming back feels like coming home and I couldn’t be more excited to be back in the ballroom.”

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