Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for FIJI Water
The DWTS ballroom will be down a Hough come March.
Fans of Dancing With the Stars were disappointed when they heard Derek Hough, a fan-favorite pro who has won five seasons, would not be participating in season 20, even if it was for a good reason: he's playing the male lead in the New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.
But rest assured, Hough's temporary leave will not become a permanent one. (And his sister Julianne Hough will still be on the show.)
"Well, he's not leaving. He's sitting out a season," executive producer Rob Wade tells E! News. "And it's amazing that we started this show, 10 years ago, I think Derek started in season two or three and now he got an opportunity to be on Broadway. It's amazing that our dancers can grow to a place where they can do something like that and come back."
And while Derek has sat out previous seasons (he didn't participate in season 12), Wade says the Emmy-winning choreographer struggled with the decision not to compete in the upcoming spring season.
"It was tough for him. We had a real heart to heart. It wasn't an easy decision and it was difficult because I feel like, if not a father, a bit of an uncle to these guys and he was struggling with it so much," Wade says. "I was like, 'Look, you don't have to close a door. You can leave a door open and go off, come back in the fall. I don't want you to leave more than that and I'll let you go off and do this. We'll allow that.' He was very grateful."
When DWTS announces its cast of pros in "early to mid February," Wade says fans can expect to see a mix of familiar faces and newcomers as dancers sitting out gives them the chance to "bring new people in, give other people a chance. I'm excited by that because I want to see new characters come in."
But will other fan favorites, like Mark Ballas and Valentin Chmervoskiy, definitely be returning to the ballroom?
"Mark I know definitely wants to come back, and Val, and so on," Wade says.
DWTS premieres Monday, March 16 on ABC.