Bruno Tonioli

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Bruno Tonioli
Born (1955-11-25) 25 November 1955 (age 66)
Ferrara, Italy
OccupationTelevision personality, choreographer, ballroom dancer
Years active1980–present

Bruno Tonioli (Italian pronunciation: [ˈbruno tonˈjɔli]; born 25 November 1955) is an Italian choreographer, ballroom and Latin dancer, and TV personality. He has appeared as a judge on the British television dance competition Strictly Come Dancing and its American adaptation Dancing with the Stars on ABC TV in the US. Tonioli co-created and appeared on the BBC talent show DanceX and its American adaptation, Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann.


In 1980, Tonioli, as part of the group Duke and the Aces, performed in but did not win the United Kingdom's competition to select an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.[1]

Tonioli has worked in the music business as a choreographer for music videos, stage shows, and tours for artists such as Tina Turner, Sting, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Freddie Mercury, Sinitta, Boy George, Dead or Alive, Bananarama, and Duran Duran. He danced in the Elton John video for "I'm Still Standing" (1983).[2]

Tonioli choreographed the band Arcadia's music video for their song "Election Day" as documented in a 1980s documentary entitled The Making of Election Day. He was the choreographer for Ella Enchanted's Minnie Driver.[2]

Tonioli's commentary style often includes colourful descriptives. As examples, during his time with the U.S. Dancing With the Stars, Tonioli called Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan "a little lynx on the prowl" and labelled singer and actor Billy Ray Cyrus "a crazy bear lost in a swamp".[3]

A minor controversy arose following Tonioli's remarks to U.S. Dancing With the Stars contestant Michael Bolton and dance partner Chelsie Hightower on the 27 September 2010 after show, when the judge called Bolton's jive dance the worst he had seen in all 11 seasons. Bolton expressed his dissatisfaction prominently in the media afterward, prompting ABC to release a statement defending Tonioli.[4]

In 2016, a surprise challenge saw Tonioli work with Jodie Sweetin and season 22 (U.S.) eventual-winner Nyle DiMarco and their professional partners. During the sequence, the two celebrities swapped partners, seeing DiMarco and Keo Motsepe dance the tango in ballroom hold, with both men shirtless, and Mostsepe lift and twirl DiMarco. This was the first time a same-sex pairing danced in any franchise of the show.[5]

In November 2016, Tonioli lent his name to an album released by Decca entitled An Italian Romance – a compilation of Italian songs by various artists selected by Tonioli. The cover of the album was shot by John Mac.[6]

In November 2018, Tonioli presented the BBC Radio 2 series Bruno Tonioli at the Opera.[7]

On 24 June 2021, it was announced that Anton Du Beke would replace Tonioli as a permanent judge on Strictly Come Dancing for series 19.[8]

Public image[edit]

In 2009 Rolling Stone magazine said that Tonioli had "won America's heart with his gay-Italian-maniac steez."[9]

Personal life[edit]

Tonioli is fluent in five languages: Italian, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French.[10] He has lived in London since 1975.[11]

Tonioli is gay and has spoken of the homophobic bullying he suffered in his youth.[12]


  1. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing Judge Bruno Tonioli's Secret Eurovision Past Has Been Revealed". Radio Times. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
  2. ^ a b People staff (2005-07-11). "Let's Get Ready to Rumba!". People. 64 (2): 119.
  3. ^ Staff (20 March 2007) Mills foxtrots onto US dance show BBC News Entertainment, Retrieved 3 November 2011
  4. ^ Seibel, Deborah Starr (2010-09-29). "Backstage at Dancing With the Stars: Pros React to Bruno's Harsh Comments". TV Guide. Retrieved 2010-10-05.
  5. ^ Williams, Joe (10 May 2016). "Dancing With The Stars features first same-sex dance routine". PinkNews. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  6. ^ "".
  7. ^ Bruno Tonioli at the Opera, BBC Radio 2
  8. ^ "Anton Du Beke to join Strictly judges for new series". BBC News. 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  9. ^ Rolling Stone staff (June 11, 2009). "Meet the New Boss, and Weep". Rolling Stone (1080): 88.
  10. ^ "Bruno Tonioli". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  11. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing - Bruno Tonioli". BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  12. ^ "I was the only gay in my village .. humour helped me to beat the bullies". Daily Mirror. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2020.

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