Welcome 'The Queen of Latin' Shirley Ballas, to our judging panel
Shirley Ballas, the British-born Ballroom and Latin dancer and international coach, has been confirmed as our new judge on Strictly Come Dancing. Originally from Wallasey, Shirley is a former 'British Open to the World' Champion, European, German, United Kingdom, United States and International Latin American Champion. She retired from competitive dancing in 1996. Shirley is now an acclaimed and respected international coach to many of the top professional and amateur dancers as well as a highly renowned sought-after adjudicator for Ballroom and Latin American competitions judging all around the world.
Nicknamed the ‘Queen of Latin’, Shirley is one of the top and most decorated professional dancers in the world. She is three-time ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Champion, 10-time United States Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion. By the age of 21, Shirley had won nearly every major title she competed in worldwide. She is the only person to have ever won the British Open to the World Latin American Championships in Blackpool with two different partners and reached the finals an impressive 17 times. Shirley still remains the youngest ever female to reach the ‘British Open to the World’ Dance Championship finals.
Shirley is mother to Mark Ballas, the musician, Broadway star, professional dancer and two-time winner on Dancing with the Stars in the US. Shirley was also guardian to professional dancers Julianne and Derek Hough during their childhood in London. The two time and six time winners of Dancing with the Stars respectively are still part of her family to this day.
Shirley will take over from Len Goodman as Head Judge and will have the casting vote in the dance-off. Len announced last year that he was stepping down at the end of the 14th series.
Shirley says, “I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity. I can’t wait to get in to the ballroom and be part of the incredible and respected judging panel. Strictly is so loved by the British public, I have always been a massive fan. I just can’t wait!"
Darcey Bussell says, “I look forward to meeting Shirley and welcoming her to our Strictly team. Her years of experience in Ballroom and Latin dancing are impressive and I’m sure she will be a great addition to our judging panel.”
Craig Revel Horwood says, “Fantastic news that Shirley will be joining me and the other judges on the panel. I look forward to working with her on the next series of Strictly!”
Bruno Tonioli says, "I know Shirley well - she is an incredible Latin dancer and trainer and I am sure she will be a great addition to the Strictly team.”
Louise Rainbow, Executive Producer of Strictly says, “I am thrilled that Shirley Ballas has agreed to join our judging panel. The calibre of applicants for this role was exceptional but with her wealth of experience as a World Champion dancer, teacher and judge, she is the perfect fit for Strictly.”
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content says, “Len’s are big shoes to fill, but the ‘Queen of Latin’ is the ideal new Strictly judge. Shirley Ballas is a British ballroom expert whose credentials speak for themselves; she’s going to be a fabulous addition to the best judging panel in showbiz!”