Shirley Ballas facts: Strictly Come Dancing judge's age, husband, children and career revealed

9 January 2024, 12:58

Shirley Ballas
Picture: PA

By Tom Owen

Shirley Ballas joined Strictly Come Dancing as head judge in 2017, and she's back for another series.

Here are all the important facts about the talented dancer and expert on all things Strictly:

  1. Who is Shirley Ballas?

    New Head Judge Shirley Ballas - Strictly Come Dancing 2017: Launch

    Shirley Ballas is an English ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance adjudicator from Wallasey, who specialises in the International Latin division.

    She won several championship titles in the Latin division, earning her the nickname The Queen of Latin.

    In 2017, she became the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, replacing Len Goodman.

  2. How old is Shirley Ballas?

    Shirley Ballas in 2009
    Shirley Ballas in 2009. Picture: Getty

    Shirley Ballas was born Shirley Rich on September 8, 1960. She celebrated her 63rd birthday in 2023.

    She was born and raised in Wallasey, with brother David and mother Audrey. Their father left the family when Shirley was just 2 years old.

    She began dancing at the age of 7, and began performing competitively a few years later.

    Aged 15, Shirley moved to North Yorkshire to join British Ballroom Champion Nigel Tiffany. Two years later, she moved with him to London, where their partnership ended.

    Dance teacher Nina Hunt convinced her to audition to partner with dancer Sammy Stopford. As dance partners, their best result was winning Professional Latin at Blackpool Dance Festival in 1983.

    With second husband Corky Ballas, she won Professional Latin at Blackpool Dance Festival in 1995 and 1996.

    Shirley stopped competing in dance competitions in 1996, and became a dance coach and judge for ballroom and Latin American competitions.

  3. Who is Shirley Ballas's husband?

    Corky & Shirley Ballas-Jive Routine - 1989

    Shirley Ballas married her dance partner Sammy Stopford when she was 18, but the relationship ended five years later.

    In the mid-1980s, she married her dance partner Corky Ballas, having met at a Latin competition in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    However, the couple were divorced in 2007.

  4. Who is Shirley Ballas's son Mark?

    Shirley Ballas and her son Mark in 2015
    Shirley Ballas and her son Mark in 2015. Picture: Getty

    Shirley and Corky Ballas had one child together: Mark Ballas, who was born in 1986.

    Mark is an American dancer, choreographer, singer-songwriter, musician, and actor.

    He has previously been a professional ballroom dancer on the US equivalent of Strictly, Dancing with the Stars, for many years. He has won the competition twice and come second four times.

    He also released his first solo album HurtLoveBox in 2011.

    Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas Cha Cha (Week 1) | Dancing With The Stars on Disney+

  5. Is Shirley Ballas in a relationship?

    Shirley Ballas and Danny Taylor in 2022
    Shirley Ballas and Danny Taylor in 2022. Picture: Getty

    Since 2018, Shirley Ballas has been in a relationship with her 50-year-old partner Danny Taylor.

    The couple met at pantomime rehearsals for Jack And The Beanstalk in 2018 in Darlington.

    She addressed rumours that she had split from the musician and actor, telling The Sun: "Danny, we’re still together after four-and-a-half years. That’s miraculous.

    “He has a very busy schedule and I have a very busy schedule. He’s in the north and I’m in the south, but somehow we do try to make it work, so that’s good."