Strictly Come Dancing's 2023 lineup has come under fire after it was revealed some of the contestants had danced before, but head judge Shirley Ballas says the criticism is 'very unfair'
Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas has hit out at “very unfair” criticisms of this year’s lineup for having dance training.
The panel’s head judge, 62, believes there is a huge difference in being skilled as a professional dancer and having had a small amount of training.
It comes after contestants such as presenter Angela Scanlon were revealed to have a past in dance.
“I think it’s very unfair at this point to single out anybody, because most children had a little bit of training,” says Shirley.
“If somebody goes to stage school for singing and acting, there’s always normally a little bit of dance included.
“It might not be their forte. It’s nothing like learning ballroom dancing. It’s a total discipline all of its own.”
Shirley even believes that some professional dancers would have to adjust to a new set of skills in the ballroom.
“If you take a jazz dancer, they dance on their own, they do their thing, unless they’re in a group.
“You take ballroom dancing, you really have to learn to dance with a partner - that’s four arms, four legs, two heads, two quarters... you’ve got to be intertwined and working together.”
TV presenter Angela, 39, said she had barely danced except for a “drunken jive at a wedding” before it emerged she had trained as a dancer with the O’Shea Irish Dance Company in 2001.
She performed in several countries, including working professionally in the US in the Irish Thunder dance show as Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia.
Angela said when she was announced: “I’ve never done any of these dances in my life, bar a drunken jive at a family wedding. So, it certainly feels like there is room to learn and to really push myself.
“Look, I’m not particularly fit. I’ve no idea how my pelvic floor is going to react to that level of jumping.”
West End performer Layton Williams, 28, will also star in the upcoming series, after performing in musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and playing dancer Billy Elliot on the stage, where he performed ballet.
The former student at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts has also appeared in Hairspray!, Rent, and as ‘Young Michael’ in Thriller Live!
The Strictly line-up also includes the bookies’ favourite, EastEnders actor Bobby Brazier, as well as former Coronation Street star Ellie Leach and Paralympic champion Jody Cundy and broadcaster Angela Rippon.
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