Derek’s Early Years


He’s hugely talented – he can act, he can dance, and he is beautiful… I don’t know where they found him but they shouldn’t let him go.  – Cheryl Baker, actor

Derek Hough: The Biography of a Song and Dance Man

By @donamadrina

Family Background

Derek B. Hough
Born:  May 17, 1985
Salt Lake City, Utah
Residences:  Dulwich, England, West Los Angeles, California

Genetics or environment? Which one had the most affect in producing the caliber of song and dance man that we have come to know and love in Derek Hough? Of course, we’ll never know!  What we do know however, is that Derek was born in May of 1985 into a family of talented singers and dancers.  His parents, Marriann and Bruce, were dancers; they had even met in college on the dance floor.  Both sets of grandparents were dancers as well.  In a family of five singing and dancing children, Derek was the fourth child, and the only boy.  His siblings were Marabeth, Sharee, Katherine, and Julianne.  Derek says, “At a very young age, my mom wanted me to dance. She saw us as the blonde Osmonds. You know, coming from Utah.”

Houghs - Blonde Osmonds

The Houghs – “The Blonde Osmonds”, per Derek’s mom. 🙂

As a young boy, Derek participated in acrobatics, karate, and other sports, such as football and basketball. His mom introduced him to art by taking him to art classes.  He learned to play the drums and piano, and he was also trained in jazz, tap, and Latin dance.  The dancing, however, was not something that Derek particularly wanted to do.  Like most boys, sports were his number one priority, and he complained that his mom dragged him to his sisters’ dance classes against his will.   “And my mom was, like, ‘Why don’t you go try and get involved?  I hated it. I couldn’t believe I was being forced into doing this.”

To make a long story short, Derek of course, had a change of heart as he realized that dancing was where all the girls were.  “The people were really nice. The girls were cute”, and he says of his dance teacher,  “[He] was a cool guy and he got me into it.”

Derek as a Baby


“I’d started out doing Latin-American dance when I was about 10 and did competitions in New York and L.A. These world champion coaches, Corky and Shirley Ballas, were traveling around the world teaching, and they saw me at this school in Utah and felt I had potential.” Corky and Shirley had quite a reputation for excellence in training up young dancers.  Both Derek and his sister Julianne ended up taking lessons from them.

Shortly after meeting Corky and Shirley, Derek moved with them to England, a country over 5,000 miles away from home.  This occurred in the midst of his parent’s divorce and challenges for Derek in school.  He even stopped dancing.

“During the whole trauma of it, I went to six different schools…I was a troubled kid who would bunk off school a lot. So it was fate or serendipity, I guess you could call it, that they brought me to England. I was only supposed to come over for a couple of months.”

At the age of 12, Derek made his move to the UK and began living with the Ballas’ and their only son Mark, who had previously been consulted about the prospective change in his living situation.  Mark Alexander Corky Ballas Jr. very quickly became Derek’s best friend, and only ‘brother’.  Derek’s younger sister Julianne later joined Derek in London at Christmas of the same year, 1997.

The Ballas’ began the training of Julianne and Derek, along with their own son for dance competitions around the world.  The newly blended family was home for Derek for 10 years, and he became very attached to Shirley.  She says: “Even though he is not my birth son, he feels like he is my son….We love that boy so much – he really is a great kid…!

Derek and Shirley Ballas

Derek and Shirley (Mark in the background)

Back in the States, with the divorce of his mother and father finalized, his parents went on later to remarry.  When his mother remarried, 4 stepsiblings were added to his family. With the remarriage of his father, there were more stepchildren added. All together the blended families resulted in 13 siblings for Derek.

Hough Family Derek’s sisters (Sheree, Maribeth, Katherine, Julianne) and Bruce Hough (dad)

Derek's Moms and Julianne Stepmom Debra, Sister Julianne, Mom Marriann

Derek and Mark’s Nana, (Mark’s maternal grandmother, Audrey Rich), and Shirley

Derek’s paternal grandparents, Colleen and Bob Hough (Bobblehead Bob)

The Biography of a Song and Dance Man continuesMove to the UK

17 Responses to Derek’s Early Years

  1. trina says:

    who abused julianne hough

    • kali says:

      She claims that corky ballas did

      • Gunny says:

        We should be careful with using the word “abuse”. I think Julianne later stated she felt the boys were getting all the attention and she was stuck doing women’s work, like the dishes.

  2. Steph says:

    Please send me anything reply wise, to my above mentioned email.
    Thank you! Stephanie Stillwell

  3. Steph says:

    It is so awesome the story I just read. I knew that Derek and Julianne and Mark were extremely talented and close. I didn’t know that Derek and Julianne lived with Marks family all that time. Boy did those two ever turn out to be the most exciting spectacular dancers. I love Mark and think he and Derek are soooo creative;they aren’t afraid to take risks or chances and I am ALWAYS on the edge of my seat glued to.the tv screen tryi.g not to blink when they dance as I don’t want to miss a single move! 🙂 It would be a dream come true to get to see them both dance and sing in person as well as meet them. I really cannot handle the thought of DWTS without them! They are forces to be reckoned with for sure. Derek, if you tead this, mmy name is Stephanie Stillwell and I want know that you brought such joy into our home when you performed, my mother was in love with you too -at barely 80 ehen she died inmy arms, she and I always looked so forward to watching the beauty of that which is Derek Hough! I always loved dancing both performing and watching. You are such a beautiful person, I can tell. You truely care about people and NOT just into yourself. That is so rare these days. You and Julianne are just amazing,amazing performers. I would be so honored to meet you both. Thank You and I hope you will be back for the 10th Anniversary. I cried when you weren’t fancing the seasons you didn’t.
    Respectfully, Stephanie Stillwell p.s. Hate to ask but could I please get an autographed pic of you? I am not going to be on this earth much longer as I have kidney failure, and suffered multiple strokes and seizures this past year and spent nearly three months hospitalized. Please give me the best gift ever!

  4. Marce says:

    Does Sheree, Maribeth & Katherine dance also. I never miss 1 show of Dancing with the Stars.

  5. Cynthia says:

    I was so curious how he and his sister turned out to be extraordinary, brilliant talented full of love children.

  6. D TANGYE says:

    Derek is great dancer fantastic to watch

  7. Move on live show. It was great! Love these kids.

  8. I went to see the move live on tour last night in West Valley City Utah. Excellent Show. I love these kids! Great entertainers.



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