Bruno Tonioli Biography
Bruno Tonioli is an Italian dancer, choreographer and television personality who presently features as one of the judges of the popular British television dance contest ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and in its US version ‘Dancing with the Stars’. His expansive career in showbiz spanning over several decades has seen him working as choreographer for stage shows, music videos and tours of several renowned artists like Boy George, Elton John and Sting and bands like the ‘Rolling Stones’ and ‘Duran Duran’. He has also featured in the music video of ‘I'm Still Standing’ by Elton John. He co-created the BBC reality television series ‘DanceX’ and featured in it as well as in its US version ‘Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann’. He has also worked on several big-screen flicks like ‘The Parole Officer’ and ‘Ella Enchanted’; in television productions like ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ and ‘Blonde Bombshell’; and on-stage productions such as ‘Godspell’ and ‘La Vie Parisienne’. He featured in many talk shows in the US including in ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ and ‘Lopez Tonight’. On the personal front he is a gay and has no qualms in divulging about his sexual orientation.
- He was born on November 25, 1955, in Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy to bus driver Werther and his wife Fulvia who stitched car-seat upholstery. Bruno and his family lived with Werther’s parents till Bruno became 12 years of age.
- He was passionate about dancing since an early age and started spending much of his time choreographing. He received full support from his parents when he resolved to become a dancer. With time he proved his mettle dancing his way to stardom with sheer talent, hard work and dedication for the art.
- He participated at the 1980 ‘A Song For Europe’ competition as part of the Duke and the Aces group. Twelve songs were selected by the Music Publisher's Association at this UK contest to select the UK representatives for the Eurovision Song Contest 1980.
- ‘A Song For Europe’ competition was held at the BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd's Bush on March 26 1980. The song ‘Love is Alive’ written by Paul Curtis was performed by Duke and the Aces including Bruno, who also choreographed the act. However the UK band ‘Prima Donna’ became the eventual winners of the contest with their song ‘Love Enough for Two’.
- He remained a member of La Grande Eugène, a Paris-based company, in the early 1980s. Later he joined the dance company of English dancer, choreographer, mime artist, actor and teacher Lindsay Kemp. He also has an extensive career as freelance dancer.
- Over the years he has thrived in the music industry in the capacity of a choreographer working with several artists and bands on their stage shows, tours as also music videos. Some such renowned names include Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Sinitta, Sting, Boy George, ‘Duran Duran’, the ‘Rolling Stones’ and ‘Dead or Alive’.
- He appeared as one of the dancers in video of the 1983 song ‘I'm Still Standing’ by Elton John. The video was directed by Australian film director Russell Mulcahy.
- Music video of October 1985 released first single of the ‘Duran Duran’ offshoot band, ‘Arcadia’, titled ‘Election Day’ was choreographed by Bruno. A documentary film titled ‘The Making of Election Day’ made on shooting and production of the music video mentions such fact.
- He worked with British female pop music vocal group ‘Bananarama’ in many of its videos. These include the 1986 cover of the song ‘Venus’ and the July 1991 released song ‘Movin' On’. The music video of the June 29, 1987, released song ‘I Heard a Rumour’ by ‘Bananarama’ featured Bruno as one of the male dancers.
- He has worked in several films like the 1990 British film ‘Dancin' thru the Dark’; the 1998 British musical film ‘Little Voice’; the 2001 British comedy film ‘The Parole Officer’; the 2003 American teen comedy film ‘What a Girl Wants’; and the 2004 fantasy romantic comedy ‘Ella Enchanted’.
- He has also worked in various television programs and shows including in ‘The BRIT Awards’ (1988, 1990, 1991), Miss World (1998–1999); the two-part mini-series ‘Blonde Bombshell’ (1999); the series ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel “ (1999-2000); and three Royal Variety Performance shows among others.
- Theatre credits of this ace choreographer include Steve Coogan's show ‘The Man Who Thinks He's It’, ‘Godspell’, ‘La Vie Parisienne’ and ‘Forbidden Passion’. The latter also saw him essaying the role of Oscar Wilde’s manservant.
- He featured in many talk shows in the US. Some of them are ‘Lopez Tonight’, ‘Live with Regis & Kelly’, ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’, ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’, ‘The Bonnie Hunt Show’ and ‘Larry King Live’ among others.
- Since May 15, 2004, Bruno has appeared as one of the main judges of the British television dance contest ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in all its 15 series so far. The show that airs on BBC One features celebrity contestants along with professional dance partners contesting in a Latin and ballroom dance contest.
- The American version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ titled ‘Dancing with the Stars’ that airs on ABC since June 1, 2005 and has already completed 26 seasons features Bruno as one of its regular judges. He has appeared in all its seasons so far. The TV series is coming up with season 27, an announcement of which was made by ABC on March 13, 2018.
- He became part of a small controversy during the 11th season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ when he made unfavourable comment on jive dance of contestant Michael Bolton and dance partner Chelsie Hightower after their performance on September 27, 2010. Following Bolton’s reaction to the media on the subject, ABC released a statement on Bruno’s defence.
- Meanwhile from January 7, 2008 to February 18 that year Bruno starred along with Carrie Ann Inaba in the American reality TV show dance competition ‘Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann’. Created by BBC Worldwide, the format of the show was based on UK BBC Television series ‘Dance X’ that also featured Bruno. The viewer-voting contest was won by the team of Bruno that led them to garner a recording deal with Hollywood Records.
- He remained judge of the UK tour of Strictly Come Dancing Live in 2009 as well as in 2010.
- He came up with his autobiography ‘Bruno Tonioli: My Story’ in September 2012. He also featured in an ad for Dole that year.
- He featured as the character Ramona Gibbler’s dance teacher in an episode of the popular American sitcom ‘Fuller House’ during its second season in 2016. British record label Decca Records released an album ‘An Italian Romance’ encompassing Italian songs of different artists. Bruno selected the songs and also lent his name to the album in November 2016.
- He lives in London since 1975. Bruno is a polyglot who is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese languages.
- He is a gay and is quite outspoken about it. He has revealed about the homophobic bullying he faced in his youth. However Bruno does not prefer to divulge much about his private life. According to sources, he is in a long time relationship with Jason Schanne whom he began dating way back in 2000 and had a commitment ceremony following the end of season 14 of ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
How To Cite
People Also Viewed