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Shirley Ballas's Biography

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Who is Shirley Ballas?

Shirley Ballas was born Shirley Rich on 17 September 1960 in Wallasey in England.

She started ballet classes when she was three years old and started children's ballroom classes when she was seven.

Her first boy dance partner  was David Fleet.

Aged 15, she partnered Nigel Tiffany, the British junior ballroom champion, and moved in with his family in West Yorkshire.

She was briefly engaged to him and many years later he became her financial adviser.

She won her first major Latin championship at 18 and went on to have huge dancing success with her dance partner and first husband Sammy Stopford.

In 1983, Shirley Ballas moved to Houston, Texas.

Shirley and her second husband, Corky Ballas, won their first professional Latin title in 1984 and went on to become the most successful Latin American Champions in USA history.

In the meantime, Shirley and Corky had a son, Mark Ballas, who himself went on to become a successful dancer and Dancing with the Stars regular.

In 1990 Shirley and Corky Ballas moved to the UK.

They became the guardians of Derek Hough and his sister Julianne Hough in 1998, who also became regulars on Dancing with the Stars.

Shirley and Corky continued to rack up ballroom dancing titles, until she retired from competitive dancing in 1996.

In 2007, she and Corky Ballas divorced, having parted in 2002.

In May 2017, the BBC announced that Shirley Ballas was to take over from Len Goodman as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

In 2022, the BBC announced that Shirley Ballas and her partner Danny Taylor would be one of the celebrity couples to appear on a new show Unbreakable.

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