Strictly Judges – Ultra Ballroom

Strictly Judges

Love them or hate them the Strictly Judges are part and parcel of the incredible production that is Strictly Come dancing and often they are just as entertaining!!! We learn their catchphrases laugh at their antics and boo… well we all boo at Craig sometimes don’t we?!!

Judges have always been present at professional Ballroom competitions. Their purpose is to look at the technical skill of the dancers, the way they have interpreted the music and their presentation.

So, just what are they looking for…

Poise …the way the dancers hold their bodies as they move, how they are holding themselves in the frame and how they connect to the audience

Posture …the way the dancer stands, moves, starts and finishes, the line of the head, arms and body throughout.

Timing and Musicality – the connection between the dance and the music and the dancer and the music, the use of rhythm and counting.

Partnership- leading and following that appears effortless, the connection between the dancers and the storytelling of the dance.

Presentation – the way the dancers show their enthusiasm and connect to the audience, judges and each other, how the audiences are drawn in or enthused by the dance. It’s also about personal presentation to – costume, hair, how the dancers enter and leave the dancefloor.

There is a lot for the judges to look for in the space of only a few minutes too!! Then it’s the time when the dancers step forward and listen to the constructive critique they have to offer.

On Strictly we have become used to the different personalities of the judges … who can forget Bruno falling off his chair? Craig hardly ever getting his 10 paddle out and Len in days gone by threatening to pickle his walnuts ???!

The lineup has changed several times since Strictly began, there have been Ballroom dancers, Ballet Dancers, ex-contestants and entertainers. Don’t forget that we have been wowed by the guest judges too – Donny Osmond and Alfonso Ribeiro two of the most memorable.

So who is in the Judges Line up for Strictly 2021….

Head judge -Shirley Ballas


Shirley is an ex-professional dancer and teacher from Wallasey in Merseyside, Her speciality is Latin dance and in particular the ChaChaCha, her unofficial title is the Queen of Latin, by the age of 23 she had won all major dance titles. She is the only person to have ever won the British Open and 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 and The World dance championship finals.

Craig Revel Horwood


Craig is a ballroom dancer, Choreographer, Dancer, theatre director, singer and Actor. His experience spans many years, he has produced and choreographed many west end shows and in 2022 will be bringing Strictly Ballroom the musical to the theatre.

If we are looking for the pantomime villain of Strictly then here he is! He is brutally honest and says exactly what he thinks … he is the judge that has produced the 10 paddle on the fewest occasions (no surprise there!) Having said that when he loves something he really does and the dancers work hard to earn even a tiny bit of praise from him!

His catchphrases have become widely known and used… you might describe them as



Motsi Mabuse

Motsi joined Strictly after Darcey Bussell left in 2019. She is the sister of professional dancer and twice Champion Oti Mabuse. A dancer from South Africa she has appeared on the German show Lets Dance won Latin dance competitions and was a judge on the German show Stepping Out.  She warmed the publics hearts with her enthusiasm and emotion, she looks for great technique but also is wowed by a heartfelt performance.

Anton Du Beke


And Finally for 2021, the King of Ballroom is in the judging seat!! In 2020 he briefly stepped in to judge but this year he is here for the whole season! Anton has been a professional dancer on  Strictly since the first episode.

Anton is a ballroom champion and renowned for his immaculate execution of the Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep. He is also a showman, a singer and actor and an all-around entertainer.

It has to be said that we often feel sorry for Anton when it comes to Partner allocations …we can almost guess who he will be paired with – having said that we were all over the moon when he was teamed with Actress Emma Barton in 2019, achieved his first-ever 10 of any series he had been in and went on to be placed joint runner up! It will be a joy for everyone to have Anton joining the judges and adding his wit and humour to the series of 2021.

So the panel may change but we can always be guaranteed fun, dramatics, constructive comments and quite often pantomime antics from the judging panel on BBC Strictly.

What can you expect from our judges at The Ultra Ballroom events … we choose them carefully from the entertainment business and sometimes have returning winners from previous years. They are always constructive in their comments and supportive of our participants … and they often get quite excited … here are some of our special judging moments…

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