Shirley Ballas says bullying nearly forced her to quit

LONDON - Shirley Ballas has said bullying left her on the verge of quitting dancing just before Strictly Come Dancing asked her to join its judging panel. Ballas said she was targeted by men “at the top” while teaching dancers. The 63-year-old said couples she was training were receiving “threats”, warning their careers would be damaged if they worked with Ballas. She believes it was because of misogyny and the men involved “didn’t want a woman in any high places”. Ballas was speaking about her experiences on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs with Lauren Laverne. She told Laverne she did not believe the industry was much better today, adding: “I still think bullying goes on. There are a lot of great people in my industry, there are a lot of people who want to see people do extremely well. I think we have this handful of misogynistic people with egos that just will not deflate.” “Even the other day, I was reading messages of a couple that had been to a competition overseas, of different professionals that had written these most horrendous messages to them. It still goes on today. I don’t know how people get away with it. It will carry on until it becomes name and shame, and I’m pretty much close to doing that, I’ll tell you,” Ballas said. On the brink of giving up, Ballas was approached by Strictly Come Dancing and asked to join the judging panel as a replacement for retiring head judge Len Goodman. “Fortunately something aligned and I got the job on Strictly. So thank you very much to all the bullies in my industry and you know who you are, and everybody in my industry knows who they are - thank you, because you gave me a platform and a job that I sincerely love and adore,” she said. Ballas also addressed another issue prevalent in the dancing world - body shaming.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt