Mary Murphy (choreographer)

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Mary Murphy
2006 Mary-Murphy.JPG
Mary Murphy in 2006.
Mary Ann Murphy

(1958-03-09) March 9, 1958 (age 61)
Known forJudge on So You Think You Can Dance (2005–09, 2011-2014, 2017-present)
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)

Mary Ann Murphy (born c. 1958)[1] is an American ballroom dance champion,[2] accredited dance judge, and a judge and choreographer on the Fox dance competition-reality show So You Think You Can Dance.

Early life[edit]

Mary Murphy was born in Lancaster, Ohio in an Irish family.[3] She graduated from Northwest High School in Canal Fulton, Ohio.[4]


After graduating from Ohio University with a degree in physical education and a minor in modern dance, Murphy moved to Washington, D.C. to begin her career. She answered a newspaper advertisement for studio instructor trainees. She became an instructor after only one week, and the studio owner invited her to attend the United States Ballroom Championships in New York City, which was the event that influenced her to commit to a career in ballroom dancing.[5]

Murphy moved to California and searched for a dance partner while working as an instructor. During the U.K. Open Championships in England, she met Manfred Stiglitz and a dancing partnership was formed. The two began to compete and eventually became the 1990 and 1991 Austrian National Champions. Despite their success, the constant travel and Murphy's domestic commitments took their toll. Murphy had opened the Champion Ballroom Academy in San Diego in 1990 and found it difficult splitting herself between these two obligations.

For the next five years she went on to build a list of accomplishments with partners based in California, earning titles at the Southwest Regional Dance Tournament, the Saint Louis Star Ball, and the International Grand Ball. With partner Bill Milner, Murphy made the U.S. Open Standard final in an unprecedented six months. Finally, in 1996, she and partner Jim Desmond made the final of the U.S. Open American Smooth and won the U.S. Open American Nine Dance.[6] She retired from competition and shifted her focus toward her dance academy.

She acted as a dance double for Julia Roberts in the movie Something to Talk About and appeared in Dance With Me, starring Vanessa L. Williams.

She appeared in the 2010 movie "Degrassi Takes Manhattan" as a worker at a casino wedding chapel.[7]

She currently runs her dance studio and organizes a Los Angeles dance competition, the Hollywood Dancesport Championships.[8] She frequently serves as a judge in several competitions, including the U.S. National Ballroom Championships.

So You Think You Can Dance[edit]

Murphy was part of the original guest judge and choreographer pool when season 1 began in 2005. In 2006, for season 2, she made increasing appearances at the judging table. In 2007, prior to season 3, Murphy was announced as a permanent judge, a position previously held only by Nigel Lythgoe.

In 2008, Murphy made guest appearances on international versions of So You Think You Can Dance, including So You Think You Can Dance Australia, So You Think You Can Dance Canada and So You Think You Can Dance Scandinavia.

In 2008, Murphy reprised her role as judge on season 4 with fellow regular, Nigel Lythgoe, and on the season finale, performed a surprise samba with Dmitry Chaplin. Murphy continued as a weekly permanent judge on season 5 and season 6.

For season 7, it was announced that Mia Michaels would replace Murphy as permanent judge. Although absent most of the season, Murphy appeared with a seat at the judging table for Vegas Week as well as the final episode. In 2011, she returned to replace Mia Michaels as a permanent judge for season 8.


Season Dancers Style Music
1 Ashlé Dawson
Jamile McGee
Jive Jim DandyLaVern Baker
Melody Lacayanga
Craig DeRosa
Kamilah Barrett
Nick Lazzarini
Tango Tanguedia – Prandi Sound Dance Orchestra
Ashlé Dawson
Blake McGrath
Samba Jazz Machine – Black Machine
Melody Lacayanga
Nick Lazzarini
Paso Doble España cañí – Boston Pops Orchestra
2 Jessica Fernandez
Jaymz Tuaileva
Foxtrot Why Don't You Do Right?Sinéad O'Connor
Ashlee Nino
Ben Susak
Jive Great Balls of FireJerry Lee Lewis
Top 14 Footloose – Kenny Loggins (Soundtrack: Footloose)
Heidi Groskreutz
Travis Wall
Paso Doble Plaza of ExecutionJames Horner (Soundtrack: Zorro - The Mask of Zorro)
Donyelle Jones
Dmitry Chaplin
Samba Hey MamaThe Black Eyed Peas
Natalie Fotopoulos
Dmitry Chaplin
Magaleñha – Sérgio Mendes
4 Mary Murphy
Dmitry Chaplin
Samba Baila, BailaAngela Via

Burn the Floor[edit]

From December 22, 2009, to January 10, 2010, Murphy headlined the Broadway ballroom dance show Burn the Floor.[9] She was partnered with Vaidas Skimelis.[10]

Murphy returned to the touring cast of Burn the Floor in September and October 2010, with performances in San Jose and San Diego, once again partnered with Vaidas Skimelis.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Murphy in San Diego in August 2012

Murphy has been married three times and revealed that during her first marriage, which lasted nine years, she was a victim of domestic abuse. In October 2010, on Larry King Live, she said she was finally speaking out so that other victims could learn how she endured, but escaped, domestic violence. Her first husband denies physically or mentally abusing her.[12]

In 2008, Murphy divorced amicably with her third husband, Phillip Gott, who remains an employee of her ballroom dance academy.[13] On May 28, 2011, Murphy announced that she made amends with her second husband in his final days battling cancer.[14] On July 22, 2011, Murphy stated in her online blog "As we said goodbye to the contestants, I'm also saying goodbye to my ex husband today, as cancer has taken another special person from my life. Even though our marriage did not work out, we became good friends. I will miss him and I will always love him."[15]

In 2011, during the announcements of Murphy's return as a permanent judge for season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance, it was revealed that she had undergone treatment for thyroid cancer. Although there was a possibility that she would never be able to speak again, she is now cancer-free with vocal cords intact.[16]



  1. ^ Beck, Marilyn; Smith, Stacy Jenel (September 5, 2009). "Ask Stacy". Archived from the original on September 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-02. Mary Murphy, 51... Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ Instructors :: Mary Murphy ::
  3. ^ Official biography released under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
  4. ^ The Independent Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^
  6. ^ Buyer's Guide :: Archived 2006-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2011-05-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Event Information: Hollywood Dancesport Championships
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2010-03-31. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^
  11. ^ SYTYCD's Mary Murphy Joins National Tour Of BURN THE FLOOR
  12. ^ 'Dance' judge Murphy says she was abused wife
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2007-06-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Champion Ballroom Academy: Meet the Staff
  14. ^ Twitter: So sad to hear my ex husband is in the same place God bless them
  15. ^
  16. ^ Mary Murphy on Cancer Battle: I May Never Yell Again
  17. ^ Big Brother 9
  18. ^ Fox Broadcasting Company: So You Think You Can Dance Archived 2007-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Fox Reality's First Annual "The Reality Remix Really Awards" Celebrated What Reality TV is Really All About". Business Wire. 2006-11-01.
  20. ^ Mary Murphy - So You Think You Can Dance | Pop Tower

External links[edit]