Ready to meet your NBC World of Dance celebrity judges? Say hello to Derek Hough.
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
First big break: Dancing with the Stars
How he got his start: Since age 12, dance has been a constant in Derek Hough’s life. Although originally from Utah, it was at that age that he was sent to London to study with Corky and Shirley Ballas at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. This was where he, along with sister Julianne, received training in song, theater, gymnastics, and dance, including jazz, ballet, and tap. (He also later taught at the school.)
His talent for dance and music (he plays piano, guitar, and drums) was showcased early on in his first pop trio 2B1G (“2 Boys, 1 Girl”), which he started with Julianne and Mark Ballas. But it was as a dancer that he rose to fame. In 2002, he became a WDSF World Youth Latin Champion. In 2006, he landed the leading role of Ren in Footloose in London’s West End, allowing him to showcase his singing and dancing skills.
The role helped raise his profile and by 2007 he began his stint on Dancing with the Stars, where he was cast with Jennie Garth on season 5 of the show. Since then, he has become a mainstay, doing a whopping 17 seasons of the show. (Fun fact: He’s also the only professional dancer to score a perfect 10 with all but one of his partners.)
Having found success with Dancing with the Stars, Hough was tapped to be a guest judge on World of Dance, joining Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo at the judge’s table. For Hough, it’s an exciting opportunity to bring his expertise to a larger audience.
“What makes this dance show different from the rest is that it’s global. We’re having acts from all over the world come and perform, and there’s going to be groups, there’s going to be soloists, there’s going to be duets and trios, but also, every form of dance you can possibly think of,” Hough told Entertainment Weekly.
This variety also spurs a variety of opinions among the judges.
“We’ve had full-blown arguments after a performance where we’re behind the desk and I just straight-out disagree with some of their things, and with their opinions. But that’s what makes us judges. We’re going to have different opinions, and we’re going to have conflicting ideas. I think ’cause we’re so passionate about it, we’re so invested. And we love dance. We’re all such fans of dance, and we want to make this the best we can possibly make it,” he said at a recent press event in Beverly Hills.
To see Derek Hough in action at the judge’s table, tune into NBC’s World of Dance May 30th at 10/9 central and watch the world’s best dancers battle it out for a whopping $1 million prize.