Choreographer Categories (Click to jump to a topic)
Miscellaneous Projects
Passion Projects
Television Academy Peer Group
Emmy Nominations and Wins
For Misty Copeland
For Ice Dances Davis and White
For Kellie Pickler
For Cheryl Cole
Michael Jackson Tribute


Derek has choreographed for a variety of artists outside of his stint on DWTS, including:



In 2016, Derek began working on several of his own creative endeavors, called ‘passion’ projects or ‘concept’ videos. Usually in collaboration with BigMan Productions and working with a variety of professional dancers, Derek conceived several works in which he applied his creativity, his artistic genius, and his visionary talents. Thus far, several impressive YouTube videos have been released and two more masterpieces were produced for television. Watch Derek’s YouTube channel for future releases.

  • “Hold On” – In November 2017, a music video was released that Derek calls another of his ‘passion projects.’ Unlike his other projects, however, there is no dancing in this video. Nevertheless, Derek wore many hats for the production of this creative work. He wrote the song and lyrics, sings the song (making this his first musical solo single), stars in it in an acting role, and directs the video for Riveting Entertainment.  For extensive information about this song and the musical video, click here. To purchase this video, go here.

  • “It’s not over UNTIL I WIN” – In September 2017, Derek released his sixth passion video, It’s not over UNTIL I WIN.” Using some of his favorite cinematographic elements: dark background, flashing lights, water (lots of water), dripping hair, shirtless torso, and tap dance, this video creatively expresses what it takes to be a champion. Unlike his other passion projects, this video is classified as a sports video. It is also a lyric video, creatively based on a speech by Les Brown about the process of working on your dreams, the failures and setbacks, belief in oneself, and the need for tenacity and readjusting one’s strategies. Derek’s purpose in creating this piece is to help others find inspiration from the words. To watch this motivational video, click here. Created, produced, and directed by Derek Hough and Joseph McQueen. (Derek’s fifth passion video was “Ashes to Eden.” He was the music director for this production, but not the choreographer. See here.)

  • “Breathe You” – Characterized by beautiful puffs of red, blue, and yellow powder, this new contemporary and colorful concept video (2017) was recently inspired by Derek from a musical composition that he wrote over four years ago. Often performed in slow-motion, this stunning and sensual creation is danced by Derek and the lovely Chantel Aguirre. Warning! It’s hot! Vocals are by Derek and choreography is by Derek and Travis Wall. Cinematography by Andrew Waruszewski; directed by Adam Margolis Productions; and produced by BigMan Productions. See this breathtaking video here. See behind the scenes here.
  • “Me in 30-Seconds” “Motion equals emotion…When I dance, I am.” The nominees for the Best Choreography Award for the 2016 Creative Emmy submitted 30-second videos exhibiting their talent. In Derek’s submission, he expounded on how he feels when he dances. It was a composition interposing edits from two of his passion project videos, “Breathe You” and “Kairos.” Chantel Aguirre was featured with Derek. See this incredible video here.
  • Television Version of “Kairos”– Derek revamped “Kairos” for Dancing With the Stars, Season 23. In this jawdropping version, there were two Dereks on stage at once. Derek #1 drummed while Derek #2, on split screen, tap danced and performed body percussion. The television routine included an highly creative mirror routine performed by Allison Holker and Marie Poppins. Marie Poppins choreographed this section. Also, appearing were Ikaterina Fesosova (dancing the Argentine Tango with Derek), and dancers Alan Bersten, Keo Motsepe, Hayley Erbert, Brittany Cherry, Jenna Johnson, Dennis Jauch and Britt Stewart. Derek won a World of Dance Industry award for this creation in February 2017.


Derek is a founding member of a new peer group within the Television Academy that consists of choreographers who create content for television (2017). Members include television choreographers, co-choreographers, creative directors, associate choreographers, assistant choreographers, and dancers. Previously this group was recognized as a subgroup within the Directors Peer Group, a group recognized for their professional television contributions. Other founding members include Gail Mancuso, Nigel Lythgoe, Mandy Moore, Nappytabs, Michael Rooney and Christian Perry.


Derek received his ninth Emmy nomination for “Kairos,” a dance routine performed on Dancing With the Stars. This performance was a made-for-TV version of his original “Kairos.” In the TV version, there were two Dereks on stage at once. Derek #1 drummed while Derek #2, on split screen, tap danced and performed body percussion. The television routine included an highly creative mirror routine performed by Allison Holker and Marie Poppins. (See the Kairos TV version above, along with the original above that.)

Derek received his eighth Emmy nomination for his Footprints in the Sand freestyle dance with Bindi Irwin. Also nominated was his Bob Fosse-style Grace Kelly Foxtrot with Bindi, as well as their Halloween-style Little Sister Argentine Tango. Though not winning the Emmy, Derek did win his sixth Mirrorball Trophy with Bindi for Season 21, undoubtedly due to an amazing season of choreography that he created especially to showcase Bindi. At the award ceremony, an incredibly stunning 30-second video presentation was shown in which Derek visually explains how he ‘feels’ when he’s dancing. See here.

Derek and His EmmyEMMY AWARD WINNER 2015
On September 10, 2015, Derek won his second Emmy for Outstanding Choreography. The nominated dance was to Sia’s Elastic Heart which was performed on Dancing With the Stars. The dance was performed by Derek and his sister Julianne, along with two mini-versions of themselves, Emma York and Joey Germa. Derek explained the significance of the choreography on his instagram, saying: “Sometimes we can abuse the love of our family and end up hurting the ones we love the most. Re connect to the playful inner child where the love is pure and honest. Family, even through the hardest of times is everything.” The dance was co-choreographed by Julianne and Tessandra Chavez.


Derek received his sixth Emmy Nomination for outstanding choreography in July of 2014. He was nominated for two extrordinary dances performed with Amy Purdy, a double amputee who is a medal winning 2014 Paralympian. One was a contemporary dance to Human by Christina Perri and the other was a Jazz dance to Too Darn Hot. Rounding out Derek’s “Body of Work” nomination, was the amazing “Ameksa”, originally choreographed for the stage and Misty Copeland and adapted for DWTS using Derek, Kathryn McCormack and several of the DWTS professional dancers.

Emmy Awards 2013 Press RoomOn September 22, 2013, Derek won an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography. The nominated dances were his Quickstep and his Mambo with partner Shawn Johnson from season 15, as well as his gravity-defying dance, “Walking On Air”, danced with Jaimie Goodwin for Macy’s Stars of Dance.

In a first, along with his fellow nominees for choreography, Dererk choreographed a routine for the Primetime Emmys’ show. Host Neil Patrick Harris sang and performed in it, as did some of the choreographers and their invited dancers.

The choreography award is normally presented at the Creative Emmy’s performance, which is a week earlier, but Neil Patrick Harris changed it up by asking the choreographers to create a routine for him. The Academy of Arts and Sciences decided to present the choreography award during Primetime for this reason. Watch Derek here as he accepts his award.

For more coverage on this amazing event, check out this site here.

In addition to the nomination that won Derek his first Emmy (mentioned above), he received another Emmy nod in Outstanding Choreography for “Heart Cry“, which he choreographed and performed with Allison Holker (So You Think You Can Dance) during Season 15. The other performers were Melanie Moore, Kathryn McCormack, and Jessica Lee Keller. A second piece was nominated, “Stars,” which Derek performed as an AT&T Spotlight Dance in Season 16 with legally blind dancer Brilynn Rakes.

On July 8, 2010, Derek received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Choreography in prime time.  The first nomination actually incorporated two selections, his Futuristic Pasodoble, danced with Joanna Krupa in Season 9 to the song Living On Video, and also his QuickStep, danced with Nicole Scherzinger in Season 10 to the song Anything Goes. The second nomination was his Acoustic Pasodoble, choreographed and danced with fellow Dancing With the Stars pro Chelsie Hightower to the song Malagueña.  Receiving two nominations in this category is quite an honor and tribute, especially considering the fame of his fellow nominees: Adam Shankman and Mia Michaels. Stacey Tookey rounded out the nominations.  Mia Michaels was the eventual winner.

Derek, along with his sister Julianne, received an Emmy nomination on July 16, 2009 for Best Choreography for their Season 7 Design-a-Dance.  The dance was a Jive to Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire.  Congratulations, Derek and Julianne, on the nomination.


Misty is the Prima Ballerina for the American Ballet Theater who in early 2014 enlisted Derek’s choreography ability to prepare a dance for the Youth American Grand Prix Gala in New York City. The world premiere of the piece, “Ameska” was performed at the Lincoln Center in April of 2014. Derek did not dance in the piece, presumably because he was involved in Dancing with the Stars, partnering Amy Purdy. Click to read more about Ameska and the Youth American Grand Prix Gala.

In the run up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Meryl Davis and Charlie White asked Derek if he would assist in the choreography for their short program, and ice dance which had several ballroom requirements.  Derek took on this new challenge and, as everyone knows, Davis and White won the gold medal. Click if you want to read more about Derek’s work with Davis and White.

After a very successful season on DWTS which saw Derek and Kellie take home the Mirror Ball Trophy, Kellie asked Derek if he would choreograph her music video for “Someone Somewhere Tonight”. Of course, Derek obliged and a beautiful video which was nominated for, and eventually won, a “Golden Boot” award. “Someone Somewhere Tonight” was also nominated for a American Country Award in the Female Music Video of the Year Award.

Derek’s choreographic talents were showcased when he choreographed a dance that was a combination of Tango and Pasodoble for Cheryl Cole’s Night In, a TV special that aired on December 12, 2009 in the United Kingdom. Derek appeared on the special, leading Cheryl* in very complicated and sultry dance moves, surrounded by a team of dancers. On January 18, 2010, at Eltham Castle outside of London, Derek began the filming of Cheryl’s Parachute music video, re-choreographing the Parachute song to a different theme than the Spanish nightclub theme that was used for the Night In performance. The Parachute music video, in which he also appeared, debuted a few weeks later on January 31st.

* Cheryl Cole is a popular pop star in the UK, a member of the Girls Aloud singing group, and was a judge on England’s popular show X-Factor.


On November 1,2012 at an event called “The Choreographers – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”, Derek was honored with a special segment. This event was a celebration of the arts, dance, and choreography through a panel discussion with choreographers: Fred Astaire’s former partner, Barrie Chase, Liz Imperio, Keith Young, Fred Tallakesen, and Nappytabs (Napoleon and Tabitha D’Uomo.  The event was attended by fellow choreographers, including also the wives of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Both wives spoke after the event about Derek’s choreographic talent. The hosts were multi-platinum recording artist/choreographer Paula Abdul, and director/choreographer Kenny Ortega. Watch here to hear Derek’s responses to the questions put to him, and to hear the praise that he received.

On November 16, 2009, Derek received recognition from world-famous director and choreographer, Kenny Ortega. Kenny tweeted the following message:  Derek Hough Rocks!  He is one of the most exciting dancers working in the scene today. He’s also a Musician and he Choreographs! I’m a big fan.

Kenny Ortega - bigger
Derek with Kenny Ortega

On October 20, 2009, the Dancing With the Stars pros performed a tribute to Michael Jackson, with MJ’s mother and some of his siblings in the audience.  Derek choreographed the first third of the performance, along with Mark Ballas, and the last third, along with some of the other pros.  The day before, in an interview, Michael’s sister LaToya, said that Michael was a fan of Dancing With the Stars, and that Derek was his favorite (male) dancer.  Jermaine Jackson, in an interview, also commented specifically on Derek’s dancing in the tribute, stating that Derek was his favorite in the tribute.

(Joanna Krupa speaking, at 4:16 mark of Natalie Coughlin video): Derek was MJ’s Favorite

Watch here:  Michael Jackson Tribute

Accomplishments (continued)Accolades for Our Man, Derek

Accomplishments are prepared by @donamadrina.

4 Responses to Choreographer

  1. Penny Gadrow says:

    Dear Mr. Hough,
    39 years ago a fantastic piece of music was released by composer Jeff Wayne known as The War of the Worlds. When I was in my 20’s this was something I danced to nearly everyday for a very long time. I always thought if I could have shown him the dance he would have been amazed. I wonder now if there would be some way of creating a routine with a choreographer today to make this piece amazing for its 40th anniversary next year. Would you have any interest? I am no dancer or choreographer but would love to help with ideas?
    Thanks for listening.
    Penny Gadrow

  2. You have amazing information on this website

  3. Carrie Stewart Nolan says:

    My 86 yr old Mother, a former dancer and actress who had the honor of dancing with Fred Astaire in Funny Face, is your biggest fan. She’s said what an honor it would be to meet you, its on her bucket list. If you’re ever in the Burbank CA area with a few minutes to spare and would be interested in fulfilling a wish, it would be magnificent
    To hear from you. Her stage name was Sue England, you can
    Look her up on IMDB

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