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.

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

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

In Season 9 of Dancing With the Stars, people raved about Derek’s choreography of a Futuristic Pasodoble.  However, he outdid himself in Season 10. He received rave reviews for a 50′s Pasodoble which he danced with Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger.His task was to combine the majestic and serious Pasodoble with the fun and flair of the 50′s.  Derek said it was a “im-Paso-ble” task. :-)  His task proved to be quite “paso-ble” as the pair earned a score of 30/30.  Derek and Nicole did a guitar strum of their arms with a Spanish flair, and Derek, who, as Tom noted, channeled Johnny Quest, incorporated a greaser hair move with a paso stomp.  Len Goodman, the head judge, gave them a standing ovation, as did the audience. Also in Season 10, Derek choreographed an Acoustic Pasodoble with Chelsea Hightower.  Both the Futuristic Paso and the Acoustic Paso received Emmy nominations on July 8, 2010.

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 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.

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.


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.

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