Before official casting was announced for Dancing With the Stars 2013, there was a period of uncertainty for Derek Hough fans. Though the veteran pro is a four-time champ and was on the show for 11 seasons, many worried that he would follow in sister Julianne Hough’s footsteps and dance out of the ballroom before Season 17. Thankfully, that was not the case.

So far, Derek and partner Amber Riley have wowed the judges — topping the Leaderboard with 27 points — though we won’t see the impact of their high scores until next week’s first elimination. For the first time since 2005, the show is only one night instead of two, with a couple being sent home at the end of the episode. While it is daunting, Derek explains this change is why he decided to come back this season.

“I wanted to be part of the show,” Derek explained in his TV Guide blog about why he returned. “We're going to once a week and I wanted to be part of that transition. It's a big transition for the show and I want to be here to support it and be behind it.”

As he told Wetpaint Entertainment earlier this summer, he’s excited for a more tightened-up format. “I think it’s going to make it more exciting, more jam-packed from start to finish,” Derek told us, and he reiterated that in his blog.

“The other good thing about it being once a week is that it tightens up a show. And we get an extra day off. We're not going to be rehearsing with our partners on Tuesdays; we're going to be doing opening routines,” he explained. Additionally, they’re limited to four hours a day of rehearsal, helping to “even the playing field.” (For him, it’s all about not “over-rehearsing.”)

All in all, Derek says there’s a “new energy” with all the changes and an “eclectic cast” — and we couldn’t agree more. Are you glad that he returned this season? Sound off below!

Source: TV Guide

Alyse Whitney is Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.