Dancing With The Stars Pro Derek Hough – Every Winning Pair Ranked

Derek Hough
(Photo by: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal)

Long before he was dishing out the 10 paddles, judging on NBC’s World of Dance, or winning Emmys for his outstanding choreography, Derek Hough waltzed his way to becoming a ballroom champion when he joined Season 5 of Dancing With The Stars.

In Hough’s 17 seasons as a pro dancer on the show, he took home a record-breaking six mirrorballs alongside some memorable stars. Let’s look back at his dancing days before he became a judge and rank those perfect pairings from least to greatest.

6. Derek & Brooke Burke (Season 7)

Before she became an eight-season host of the show alongside the sorely missed Tom Bergeron, Brooke Burke competed on Season 7 with Hough, who had yet to snag a mirrorball, compared to his dancing sister and fellow DWTS pro Julianne Hough, who won her very first season on the show.

It’s hard to say whether this was a well-deserved win in a season that also saw fan favorites Lance Bass and Toni Braxton wow the dance floor, but Burke and Hough were the only ones on the receiving end of perfect scores throughout the season.

5. Derek & Nicole Scherzinger (Season 10)

In the season that saw Hough’s first winning partner back in the ballroom as the show’s co-host, it also saw him receive his second mirrorball alongside former Pussycat Dolls member and The Masked Singer judge Nicole Scherzinger.

Scherzinger and Hough were often the highest-scoring couple, and received the first 10’s of the season merely two weeks into the competition for their Jive, making them the quickest 10’s Hough ever received with any couple.

4. Derek & Kellie Pickler (Season 16)

The first American Idol contestant to hit the ballroom, Season 16 saw AI Season 5 alum Kellie Pickler partner with Hough, and the outcome on this reality show was much better for Pickler compared to her first.

The pair started receiving 9’s and 10’s early on in the season, and it didn’t take long for Pickler to prove she wasn’t just a singer, but a dancer, thanks to Hough’s guidance. Their instant chemistry paired with Pickler’s immediate knack for the choreography allowed them to shine brightest throughout the season, and eventually earned them the title of the Season 16 winners.

3. Derek & Jennifer Grey (Season 11)

When Jennifer Grey joined Season 11 alongside pro partner Hough, their dancing was anything but dirty. Despite disappointingly never dancing to the hit tune from Dirty Dancing, “Time of My Life,” the pair did perform a beautiful Viennese Waltz to another song from the film, “These Arms of Mine,” which earned them the highest score of Week 1.

After often topping the leaderboard throughout the season, the couple not-so-surprisingly took home the mirrorball, making Grey the oldest female winner in the show’s history at 50 years old, just behind Season 9 winner, the then-51-year-old Donny Osmond.

2. Derek & Amber Riley (Season 17)

Whether it be as Mercedes Jones, a contestant on DWTS, or dressed up as a singing harp on The Masked Singer, Amber Riley is one of those people who literally wins at everything she does. For Season 17, Riley was the first of three Glee cast members to compete on DWTS, but the only one to compete alongside then-four-time winner, Hough.

Glee fans already knew Riley could dance, but her partnership with Hough took it to a whole new level. While she memorably danced a trio Salsa with BFFs Hough and Mark Ballas, it was hers and Hough’s first dance during the season premiere that became unforgettable after it earned the couple three 9’s from the judges, an unbelievable score for a Week 1 dance.

1. Derek & Bindi Irwin (Season 21)

Of all Hough’s pairings – winning or not – it was his Season 21 partner Bindi Irwin that fans remember most. Nearly a decade after the unexpected passing of her famous father, Steve Irwin, she took to the ballroom floor with Hough by her side and walked off it as one of the youngest winners in the show’s history.

Irwin and Hough oozed undeniable chemistry each week, and Irwin flawlessly perfected Hough’s intricate choreography. But it was their emotional finale Freestyle, dedicated to Irwin’s late father, that captured the hearts of everyone watching and ultimately helped crown the pair as the winners of the season.

About Ashley Amber 109 Articles
Ashley Amber is a 29-year-old writer, author and dancer. When Ashley isn't live-blogging shows like The Voice and Dancing With The Stars for MJ's Big Blog, she works as a writer for SoapHub and a contributor at The DIS, and previously published over 300 articles for Collider. Ashley has also authored a self-published fantasy/romance series of novelettes, and made her poetry debut in 2021's LGBTQIA+ anthology Deviant: Chronicles of Pride by InkFeathers Publishing. As a former pro ballroom dancer, when she's not writing, you can find Ashley on Youtube and TikTok where she posts dance videos featuring her own choreography and tutorials.