Last year, Julianne Hough made the shocking admission that she had been abused “mentally, physically, everything” as a young dancer living in London under her champion instructors Corky and Shirley Ballas’ care. And now the star’s older brother, Derek, is revealing some startling facts about his time dwelling with friend and fellow Dancing With the Stars pro Mark Ballas’ family overseas.
Though Derek calls the Ballas adults “second parents” in his upcoming memoir, Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion, he says he was scared to upset the stern Shirley.
“If you crossed Shirley, you paid a price,” he writes.
“She raised her hand and slapped it hard across my cheek,” he recalls. “I swear I almost swallowed my teeth . . . That was the day I learned never to lie to Shirley.”
Even when Derek, now 29, was on his best behavior at home, Shirley often treated him cruelly.
“When I lived with the Ballases, being sick was never really an option,” he writes. “If I had the flu, Shirley would give me a throat lozenge and usher me off on the train to school. There was just no sympathy.”
Apparently, the ballroom legend needed her students to be ready to dance, no matter the circumstances.
“If you can’t go to school, then you can’t go to rehearsals. And if you can’t go to rehearsals, then you can’t do the competitions,” Derek claims Shirley warned him.
Though Derek praises Corky and Shirley’s extreme tough love approach in his new book, Julianne says her time in London turned her into a “dark person.”
“I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer. I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy façade because that was my job and my life. But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love,” the now 26-year-old recently said.
“They’re livid with Julianne over suggestions that she was abused in the U.K. under their care,” a Ballas family insider told Star. “At Corky’s own expense, he took Julianne into his home and turned her into a world-class dancer. He feels like he has been ambushed.”
Do you think Shirley Ballas was justified in hitting Derek when he was a teenager? Was she right in sending Derek to school when he was sick? Sound off in the comments.