Derek Hough has judged “Dancing with the Stars” for a season and a half now, but let’s not forget that he’s also a dancer and choreographer with a record six Mirror Ball Trophies and a near-record three Emmys on his shelf. He gave us another reminder of his artistic bona fides during “Horror Night” when he and his partner Hayley Erbert performed “Tango of the Dead.” And it could win him a landmark fourth Emmy. Watch the performance above.
“DWTS” has won four total Emmys for choreography: Hough has three of those, while Mandy Moore has the other. It trails “So You Think You Can Dance,” which has claimed a remarkable 12 trophies in the category. That’s due in large part to the fact that “DWTS” is an amateur competition with mostly inexperienced dancers learning the basics, while “SYTYCD” is a competition for highly trained dancers performing professional-level routines. The choreography is more difficult and complex, which looks better to Emmy judges. For that matter, three out of the four “DWTS” Emmy wins have been for routines choreographed for the pros, not for the contestants.
Sadly, “SYTYCD’s” 2020 season was killed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the show may not return at all. So when Hough earned an Emmy nomination for his own stellar exhibition performances on “DWTS,” he didn’t have to face the usual slew of “SYTYCD” routines that typically filled up the category, opening the door for his third win. That’s not to say Hough only won because “SYTYCD” was out of contention — he beat “SYTYCD” twice before. But without the rival dance competition series on the air, Hough’s routines were able to stand out even more than usual.
Now Hough has three competitive choreography Emmys. For years that was the all-time record. However, the legendary Debbie Allen also won a choreography Emmy this year in another category for the Netflix telefilm “Christmas on the Square” — her fourth — keeping Hough one win shy of the all-time mark. But with his stellar, moody, intricate, eerie tango on “Horror Night,” expect Hough to throw his had back in the ring at the 2022 Emmys. And honestly, if anyone should tie Allen, it makes sense for it to be Hough, who has helped re-popularize dance on TV for the 21st century.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated that all “DWTS” Emmy wins were for professional routines.
Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.