Shirley Ballas might not be a name you’re too familiar with at the moment, but that’s all about to change as she takes up Len Goodman’s seat as the head judge on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
Shirley, AKA ‘the Queen of Latin’, is highly regarded in the world of ballroom and is already a well-known face on the other side of the pond, having regularly appeared on the US version of ‘Strictly’, ‘Dancing With The Stars’.
She’s already promised to put the ‘strict’ back into ‘Strictly’ ahead of the celebrities debut on the dancefloor, but what else do we know about the newest Saturday night star on the box?
Get to know her a little better with her 9 Facts In 90 Seconds…
1. Shirley is originally from Wallasey, in the Wirral, and started dancing when she was just seven years old.
2. Shirley moved to Houston, Texas, in 1983 and began to compete with new partner and husband, Corky.
3. Shirley and Corky won their first professional Latin title in 1984, and continued undefeated for a further eight years in a row, making them the most successful Latin American Champions in USA history.
4. Shirley is mother to Mark Ballas, the musician, Broadway star, professional dancer and two-time winner on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in the US.
5. Nicknamed the ‘Queen of Latin’, Shirley is one of the top and most decorated professional dancers in the world.
6. 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.
7. Shirley was the guardian to professional dancers Julianne and Derek Hough (aka Cheryl’s ex, seen here on the right) during their childhood in London, when they studied at the Itlalia Conti stage school. The two-time and six-time winners of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ respectively are still part of her family to this day.
8. She retired from competitive dancing in 1996.
9. Following her retirement, Shirley became an acclaimed and respected international coach to many of the world’s top professional and amateur dancers. She’s also a highly renowned and sought-after adjudicator for Ballroom and Latin American competitions, judging all around the world.
‘Strictly Come Dancing’ launches on Saturday 9 September at 7pm on BBC One.
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