Julianne may be best known as a two-time winner of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, and for earning a Creative Arts Primetime Emmy nomination in 2007 for choreography. On ABC's news magazine show, 20/20 she was labeled one of the "very best dancers on the planet." (Her brother, Derek, is also on Dancing with the Stars and is a three-time winner himself.)
Julianne's dance training began at the Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Orem, Utah, where she danced with Josh Murillo, among others, in Latin Ballroom. As a result, she began dancing competitively at nine. Her parents sent her and brother Derek to London a year later to live and study with their coaches, Corky and Shirley Ballas, who helped tutor the two Hough children alongside their own son, Mark, at the Italia Conti Academy. There they received training in song, theatre, gymnastics and many forms of dance, including jazz, ballet, and tap.
The three children formed their own pop music trio 2B1G ("2 Boys, 1 Girl") when Hough was twelve. They performed at dance competitions in the UK and the U.S., and showcased in a UK television show. At fifteen, Julianne became the youngest dancer, and only American, to win both Junior World Latin Champion and International Latin Youth Champion at the Blackpool Dance Festival.
After five years in London, Hough returned to the U.S. After graduating from high school, she moved on her own to Los Angeles to begin her career.
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One of her earliest professional experiences was as an assistant choreographer on Gwen Stefani's "Wind It Up" music video. She was featured in two television commercials and was an extra in an episode of Cold Case. She was one of the "Million Dollar Dancers" in the short-lived network television game show Show Me the Money.
In the fourth season of the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars, she won, with her partner Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, making Hough the youngest professional dancer to win on the program. On November 27, 2007, Hough and her partner, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Hélio Castroneves, became the winners of Season 5. Hough returned for season 6 with radio host/comedian Adam Carolla, but they were eliminated in the fourth week.
On season 7, Hough was partnered with Hannah Montana actor Cody Linley. She felt abdominal pains during their jitterbug performance on October 27, 2008 and was immediately rushed to a hospital following the encore performance. She ended up having her appendix removed, causing her to miss several performances. After she returned to the show, the pair were eliminated in the Semifinals Competition.
However, she appeared on the November 12 results show dancing the jive to "Great Balls of Fire" with her brother for the "Design-A-Dance" contest. Hough and brother Derek were selected the favorite pros on the show by an online vote at ABC.com and won the honor of doing this special audience designed dance.
In December 2007, Hough was signed to Mercury Nashville Records. Her self-titled debut album was released May 20, 2008, debuting at #1 on the Billboard Country Album chart and #3 on the Billboard 200. It sold 67,000 copies its first week, and has sold over 320,000 total copies.
On October 12, 2008, she released a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Julianne Hough Holiday Collection, which as of January 5, 2009, had sold 157,000 copies.
Hough appeared in the 2010 musical Burlesque, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. She played a dancer named Georgia.
It was announced in March 2011 that she will be playing the role of Sherrie Christian in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, alongsidge Tom Cruise and Mary J. Blige. The film is due for release in 2012. Hough will also star as Ariel in the 2011 remake of the Paramount film Footloose. Filming began in September, 2010.