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Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas, originally from Wallasey, has been dancing since the age of seven. She is three time ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Champion, 10-time US Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.  By 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 now one of the top Ballroom and Latin teachers and adjudicators in the world and is delighted and honoured to be head judge on the BBC’S Strictly Come Dancing.


Christopher Hawkins

Christopher is a highly respected adjudicator and teacher of competitive dancing. Starting his competitive dance career at the age of 11, he has received numerous world championship awards including the World Professional Ballroom Championship title, which he received three consecutive times. Christopher previously served as the Chairman of the World Competitors’ Dancesport Corporation for several years, which subsequently developed into the World Dance Council Competitors’ Commission under his management. He joined the Modern Ballroom Faculty of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in 2009 and was elected the as Chairman of the Faculty in October 2015. He also proudly represents the Society on many of the Committees at the British Dance Council.

Linda Jasper MBE

Linda is a senior arts director and educationalist with a wealth of experience in leadership roles, dance management and strategy and arts and cultural learning. In 2004, she formed Youth Dance England, which merged with other organisations to create One Dance UK, a groundbreaking new dance service organisation for the dance sector. She is currently a consultant and lecturer working with, amongst other organisations, the Royal Opera House and The Royal Ballet School. Linda was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Arts by De Montfort University and is an Honorary Life Member of the Foundation for Community Dance and National Dance Teachers Association and was awarded appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2010 for her services to the dance industry.


Shobana Jeyasingh CBE

Shobana is an internationally recognised choreographer with over 30 years’ experience. She has created over 60 critically acclaimed works for stage, screen and unconventional public spaces such as Palladian monasteries. Her work is noted for both its intellectual rigour and its visceral physicality and has toured worldwide including Europe, USA, India and the Far East and is now part of the national curriculum in the UK. As well as being a judge for BBC Young Dancer in both 2017 and 2019, she has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Surrey, Leicester and Chichester. She was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the WOW Women in Creative Industries Awards in 2017 and was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2020.

Oti Mabuse

Oti is best known as a professional dancer on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing since 2015. As an 8-time South African Latin American Champion, she is regarded as one of the most successful South African dancers in the world. Currently a dance captain and mentor on series two of BBC One’s Saturday night dance and entertainment show, The Greatest Dancer - winning series one with her act - Ellie Fergusson, she regularly choreographs critically acclaimed musicals and is now a presenter on UK television.


Drew McOnie

Drew is fast becoming one of Britain’s most sought-after emerging directors and choreographers. He is the Artistic Director of The McOnie Company and a proud Associate Artist at The Old Vic theatre, London and the Nuffield Southampton Theatres. Drew won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography for In the Heights in 2016 and he was nominated for the same award in 2017 for the groundbreaking production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Amongst many, some of his theatre credits as a director/choreographer include King Kong, Strictly Ballroom and On the Town, which won the Olivier Award Nomination for Best Musical Revival 2018 - Regent’s Park.

Mark Smith

Mark is the Founder and Artistic Director of Deaf Men Dancing. Mark was nominated as Best Choreographer in the Off-West End Awards and the Broadway World UK Awards for Ace of Clubs, Call Me Madam and Iolanthe and Live Theatre and British Theatre for Tommy. His training began at the Royal Ballet School London Studio Centre and he has since gone on to choreograph a wide array of productions in a variety of genres including the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, London 2012; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, 101 Dalmatians, Noah, A Marvellous Year for Plums and The Meeting, amongst many others.