SHIRLEY BALLAS - head judge
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 in series fifteen and will have the casting vote in the dance-off.
CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD
Australian Craig started out as a dancer, working initially in Melbourne before moving to London, where there were greater career opportunities for him. Craig moved into choreography and his West End credits include Spend, Spend, Spend and My One And Only, both of which he received a nomination for an Olivier award of Best Theatre Choreographer. Craig has also worked outside the West End in the UK and has also worked on international productions across the world, including Once Upon A Time - The Life of Hans Christian Andersen which was a live concert broadcast on television across the world to mark the author's bicentenary.
Recently, Craig has choreographed the play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks in the West End, which starred Claire Bloom and Billy Zane.
In addition to judging on Strictly Come Dancing in the UK, Craig has been a judge on the New Zealand version of the programme, Dancing With The Stars. He has also appeared as a judge on Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, competed in Celebrity Masterchef (where despite extreme nerves and shaky hands, he reached the final with Nadia Sawalha and Midge Ure), and even sang a duet with Anton Du Beke on the Strictly sister show It Takes Two.
As a judge, Craig tends to split fans of the show, and is either portrayed as the nasty, super-critical judge, or considered to be the most consistent, fairest judge. Although always a stickler for technique, he will praise innovation and creativity in choices of music and choreography. While his choice of words are often seen as personal attacks on the celebrities, he does generally try to give them feedback on technique and on issues that should be worked on in order to improve. Additionally, Craig usually conducts a Monday review of the previous Saturday dances on It Takes Two.
You can find out more about Craig on his website at www.craigrevelhorwood.com.
Italian Bruno started his career as a dancer, before moving into teaching and choreography. He was a highly respected teacher during the 1970's and 1980's at the acclaimed dance studio, Dance Centre, in London. As a choreographer, he has worked on films, plays, music videos and in television, including work on films such as Enigma and Little Voice, and on music videos and shows for artists including Elton John, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.
Bruno is the most exuberant of the judges, and can often be seen trying to demonstrate techniques while sat in his chair on the judging panel. Whilst looking at technique, he will allow the emotional side of the performance, be that romance in the Waltz, cheekiness in the Cha Cha Cha or passion in the Tango, to overrule any problems with technique or rules. Infamously, he awarded Kelly & Brendan a 10 for their American Smooth in series five, despite there being an illegal third lift in the routine. As at the end of series five, Bruno has given out more 10's than any other judge - 37 in total.
Bruno is also a judge on the American version of the show, Dancing With The Stars, and is occassionally a guest judge on the Australian edition of the show as well.
Born in London in 1969, Darcey attended the Arts Education School at the Barbican, where her talent for dance led to an audition for the Royal Ballet School at the relatively late age of thirteen, where she won one of only eight places available. In order to improve her technical abilities, she attended extra lessons and summer classes to enable her to catch up with the other girls (who had mostly been training at the school from the age of eleven), and aged sixteen was accepted in to the Royal Ballet's Upper School.
She later joined the Royal Ballet and became the youngest ever Principal dancer at the age of just twenty. After an impressive career and having been awarded an OBE and subsequently the CBE, she retired from ballet in 2007.
Darcey joined the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel as a fifth judge for the final three weeks of series seven, and is returning as a full time judge for series ten, later in 2012.
For more information about Darcey, visit her official website at www.darceybussell.com
Arlene is one of the most respected and well known theatre choreographers in show business. After starting ballet classes at the age of three, she studied ballet and tap dancing as a child, moving to London as a teenager where she became influenced by the American Modern Jazz style of dance, and developed her own version of Jazz dance, and her career started to move towards teaching and choreography. She is now recognized one of our most successful theatre choreographers having won Olivier Awards and been nominated in the Tony Awards as well, and her show credits include We Will Rock You,Starlight Express andThe Sound Of Music.
During the 1970’s she created the dance troop Hot Gossip, who became famous for their hit song “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper” and their appearances on The Kenny Everett Show.
In addition to her work as a theatre choreographer, Arlene has also worked in the film industry on films such as Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, Legend and Annie and on pop videos for artists including Duran Duran, Aretha Franklin and Elton John.
As a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, Arlene would often pick up on the chemistry of the partnership and the emotion conveyed in the performances, and was famously critical of the hands and arms of some of the celebrities, especially series three winner, Darren Gough. Arlene was a stalwart of the Friday panel feature of the Strictly sister show It Takes Two.
After competing in and winning series five of Strictly Come Dancing (you can see her dance results pagehere), Alesha came back to the show to join the judging panel in series seven, replacing Alrene Phillips, with her experience as a contestant giving her an unique perspective when assessing the celebrities and their professional dance partners. Alesha left the show after series nine, in order to move to another judging role, this time on the ITV1 talent show, Britain's Got Talent.
Len was a late starter in the dancing world, only starting ballroom lessons after having to give up hopes of becoming a professional footballer due to a foot injury. He turned professional and with his dancing partner Cherry, won the British Championships in his late twenties. He started a dance school in Dartford, and teaches ballroom and latin dancing.
As a respected judge in professional dancing competitions, Len was asked to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, and is the Head Judge of the panel. Len looks for the good in all the celebrities, and tries to encourage them, although will be critical if he doesn't think they are dancing to the best of their ability. He will also score each celebrity in comparison to the performance of the others that week, and not necessarily based on the quality of the dance, so that if the last celebrity comes out and dances the worst dance of the night and the lowest score he's given so far is a 7, he may well score the last dancer a 5 or 6, whereas other judges may only score the same dance a 3 or 4. On the Strictly sister show, It Takes Two, Len's Masterclass is one of the highlights of the week, where he will try to demonstrate and teach Claudia the correct way to perform steps from the various dances on the show.
Len was also the Head Judge on the American version of the show, Dancing With The Stars.