Emmys 2017: Derek Hough & Travis Wall battle for Best Choreography, but Mandy Moore has twice the firepower

Derek Hough (“Dancing with the Stars“) and Travis Wall (“So You Think You Can Dance“) are among TV’s best known dancers, and they’re both perennial nominees and past winners in the Emmy race for Best Choreography. Hough has prevailed twice (2013 and 2015) out of nine nominations thus far. Wall tied with Hough in 2015 on his fifth try out of seven nominations overall. Should we expect them to duel for the prize again? Perhaps, but overdue Mandy Moore has twice the firepower this year.

Moore has earned six nomination since 2008, when she first contended for her work in “SYTYCD.” She lost that award to her colleague Wade Robson for the same show. Then Moore was one of five nominees for “SYTYCD” in 2011, but she lost to two choreographers from that show: Mia Michaels and the team of Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo. Then she lost to Hough in 2013 in the first ever victory for “‘DWTS” in the category, while the D’umos overtook her again in 2014.

But now Moore is back with two guns blazing. She has choreographed routines for both dance competition series, and this year she has one nomination for each. For “DWTS” she contends for the routines “On Top of the World” and “Carol of the Bells,” and for “SYTYCD” she’s up for “Unsteady” and “This Is Not the End.” What’s more, she’s coming off an impressive year during which she also choreographed routines for the Oscar winning film “La La Land.” She has worked on other award-winning films like “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” but the Oscars don’t give out an award for choreography. So the TV academy might want to honor her for her impressive body of work, but if they do, will they pick her routines for “DWTS” or “SYTYCD”?

“SYTYCD” is helped by the fact that it’s airing its new season right now, so it was on while voters were marking their ballots. That helps both Moore and Wall. And “SYTYCD” has by far the most all-time wins in this category (nine), which is probably in large part because its contestants are seasoned dancers, so they often have more advanced choreography than the beginners on “DWTS.”

But the nominated “DWTS” routines this year weren’t performed by the contestants. They were performed by professionals, so the two dance competition shows are on more or less equal ground this year. And Hough also has the benefit of a high profile this summer: he appeared as a judge on another dance competition series, NBC’s “World of Dance.” If Hough does win for a third time this year he’ll tie the record for the most victories, joining six other choreographers including the aforementioned Mia Michaels and the legendary Debbie Allen.

But “DWTS” and “SYTYCD” aren’t indomitable at the Emmys. Though they have dominated the category in the last decade, they both lost last year to a tie between “America’s Best Dance Crew” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Neither of those shows is back in the running this year, but it does show that they might be vulnerable to this year’s fifth nominee, “The Real O’Neals,” for which three-time nominee Fred Tallaksen contends for the routines “Born This Way,” “West Side Story,” and “Boyfriend.”

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