A star of stage and screen, Dame Arlene Phillips has had a wonderous career spanning over 45 years as a choreographer, director, presenter and TV judge.
Following a highly successful professional dancing career that saw her feature in some of the biggest West End and Broadway musicals of all time, she moved to full-time choreographing and dancing. She first made a name for herself in the 1970s as the director of the dance group Hot Gossip, before working on theatre shows all over the world.
From judge to TV guest, to presenter, Arlene has made multiple television appearances including Never Mind the Buzzcocks (1996-), The Wright Stuff (2000-2018), Loose Women (1999-), The One Show (2006-), Great British Bake Off (2010-) and The Paul O’Grady Show (2004-2015), amongst many others.
She is a popular choice for after-dinner speeches, event hosting and charity fundraiser presenting. When booked for these events, her high-profile, warm personality and informative stories really resonate with audiences of any size. Over her long career, she has perfected an impressive set of skills that she can now bring to events. As an after-dinner speaker, her life story captivates audiences as she takes them through the positives and negatives of performing and life in the public eye.
Dame Arlene Phillips was one of the original four judges on the popular BBC show Strictly Come Dancing (2004-) where she stayed for four series. Over a variety of dance styles – including Waltz, Foxtrot and Samba – she used her immense knowledge and experience to critique celebrity contestants and educate and entertain audiences. At the same time, she also became a judge for the spin-off series Strictly Dance Fever (2005-2006). Riding high off her popularity, she then co-created and starred as a judge – alongside fellow Strictly alumni Bruno Tonioli – on the BBC show DanceX (2007).
She has also been seen judging So You Think You Can Dance (2005-), Over the Rainbow (2010), Let’s Dance for Comic Relief (2009-2017) and as a guest judge on Dancing on Ice (2006-).
With a particular passion for American Modern Jazz, Arlene developed her own style of dance inspired by the genre and travelled the world, teaching it to students as far and wide as the UK, USA and Italy. Throughout her extensive career, she has choreographed for shows, films, advertisements and music videos including Duran Duran’s video for The Wild Boys, which won a Brit Award in 1985. She has choreographed for the likes of:
Theatre: Grease, We Will Rock You, The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Flashdance, Jackie the Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Films: Annie (1982), Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983), Wind in the Willows (1996) and White Hunter Black Heart 1990)
TV: The Kenny Everett Video Show (1978-1981), A Midsummer’s Night Dream (2016), The Royal Variety Show (1960-) and Children in Need (1980-)
Adverts: 7-Up, American Express, Burger King, Dr Pepper, Levi Jeans and Yellow Pages
Music Videos: AC/DC, The Bee Gees, Culture Club, Erasure, Aretha Franklin, Boy George, Whitney Houston, Moody Blues, Elton John, Kiss, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Olivia Newton John, Queen, Cliff Richard, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Robbie Williams.
As well as choreographing some of the biggest stage shows in the world, Arlene has also taken up directing them. She has directed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular show Starlight Express and the 2022-2023 tour of The Cher Show. She has also been the director for productions including Saturday Night Fever, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and EFX starring David Cassidy. She also directed Michael Flatley’s acclaimed production Lord of the Dance, the James Bond Gala for the Red Cross, Donna Summer in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre and Midsummer Classics at The Royal Albert Hall. She was also asked in 2002 to be the Director of Choreography for the Manchester XVII Commonwealth Games ceremonies. In 2009, she helped choreograph some of the performances at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Arlene was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honours for services to dance and charity. She has been nominated multiple times for Tony Awards, Olivier Awards, a National Broadway Award and a FaNY. She has been awarded an MTV award, Drama Desk award, a BAFTA and an Emmy for her choreography. In the run up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, she was appointed as the Government’s Dance Tsar to help improve the UK’s health and fitness.
Arlene is a popular choice for hosting award ceremonies and charity events; she has hosted the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, National Dance Awards, ENB Emerging Dancer Awards, International Women’s Day, Pride of Scotland, Animal Hero Awards, RNIB, Save the Children and Alzheimer’s Society. In 2017, following the Grenfell Tower fire, Arlene organised and hosted a dance gala to raise money for the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation.
Given Arlene’s depth of dance knowledge and passion for reading to her children, it was only natural for her to write a series of children’s dance adventure books, Alana Dancing Star (2010). The stories follow dance-mad Alana as she battles the hardship of being poor whilst still trying to follow her dreams. As she struggles to learn different genres of dance, she finds herself transported to mysterious lands around the world.
She also produced a tie-in book Dance to the Musicals (2011) to her DVD, providing tips and easy-to-follow step-by-step moves for dance routings from popular shows such as Mamma Mia and Fame.
In addition to writing her books, Arlene’s fun and friendly tone has seen her write regular columns for The Sun, Woman’s Own and Yours Magazine, as well as guest blogs for Good Housekeeping, NetMums and The Huffington Post.
When booked as an event host or after-dinner speaker, audiences are enamoured by this instantly recognisable celebrity who can command the attention of a room with her fascinating stories. As a charity fundraiser host, Arlene is ideal. Her charm, wit and dedication to encouraging donations can turn any event into a roaring success for a good cause.