There’s a reason pro Derek Hough has won Dancing With the Stars a record four times. (No other pro has even won three times.) At this point, it’s still not clear if will Derek return for Season 17. If so, we’ll look forward to more great routines. If not, here’s a look at some of our favorite routines from his 11 seasons with the show (in no particular order) — and that’s not even counting his amazing Results Show performances! Watch and then share your favorites in the comments.
Nicole Scherzinger, 1950s Paso Doble, Season 10
Whenever Derek seems really stumped to come up with good choreography, you can bet something amazing will follow. This was one of those weeks where the couples were given a period of time and a dance style, and Derek wasn’t sure how to pair the bouncy happy fun 1950s with the intense, passionate Paso Doble. The result showed off Derek’s impressive creativity, and perfectly showcased Nicole Scherzinger, who would go on to be Derek’s second celeb winner.
Ricki Lake, Psycho Tango, Season 13
Before he got all shadowy with Kellie Pickler's Argentine Tango, Derek murdered Ricki Lake in silhouette in this amazing Tango to the Psycho theme. This dance is so good ... we forgive him! Just this once, though. Don't make a habit of it. Props to the lighting, too.
Jennifer Grey, Viennese Waltz, Season 11
This was JGrey's very first dance of Season 11, which she would go on to win. Something about the way they move together, to this song — "These Arms of Mine" — under those lights, it's just magical. When Jennifer first saw Derek choreographing this routine, she got emotional, because it reminded her so much of dancing with Patrick Swayze. As Carrie Ann Inaba put it, while tearing up, "Something very profound just happened right now."
Joanna Krupa, Futuristic Paso Doble, Season 9
Before the 1950s Paso Doble, there was the Futuristic Paso Doble. Lesson being, just give Derek a Paso challenge and it will be well met. The lights, the costumes, the stone-faced attitude, it's all pretty perfect.
Maria Menounos, Vampire Paso Doble, Season 14
Yeah, another Paso Doble. Sue us! Or just bite us, since this is the vampire-themed Paso set to "Montagues and Capulets." Music is half the battle, kids! Get a bad song and it can kill your routine. Get a good one, and you're golden. This is golden.
Shawn Johnson, Titanic Rumba, Season 15
Picking just one Shawn routine is tough. We're tempted to go with the Knightrider Bhangra, despite still not knowing what the heck a Knightrider Bhangra really is. That Trio Samba was also a trip, Len's snide comments be damned. But the story of Shawn on All-Stars was her emotional journey from the shy girl from Season 8 who still struggled with romantic, sensual routines to the mature woman of this Titanic dance. It showed off her range, as well as Derek's creativity, which limited the routine to a raised round platform, surrounded by a smoke sea that claimed Derek/Jack in the end. We'll never let go!
Kellie Pickler, Freestyle, Season 16
We could pick a few Kellie routines — including her Argentine Tango and that perfect Quickstep — but if we had to pick one, this is just about the best Freestyle you could ask for, so it trumps everything. The lights. The smoke. The emotion. Subtle and stunning. Once again, the music aids in the storytelling, with Labrinth and Emeli Sandé's "Beneath Your Beautiful" elevating an already beautiful routine into something iconic.
What are your favorite Derek routines? Sound off in the comments!