Mary Murphy (choreographer)

Mary Murphy (choreographer) (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Mary Ann Murphy (born March 9, 1958) is a ballroom dance champion, accredited dance judge, and a judge and choreographer on the Fox dance competition-reality show So You Think You Can Dance.


Mary Murphy is a former U.S. champion ballroom dancer and current TV personality. She was born in Lancaster, Ohio in an Irish family. She graduated from Northwest High School in Canal Fulton, Ohio.


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.

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

So You Think You Can Dance

See So You Think You Can Dance (U.S. TV series) for more information Murphy was part of the original guest judge and choreographer pool when season 1 began in 2005. In 2006, for season 2, she made noticeably more appearances at the judging table than the other choreographers. In 2007, just prior to season 3, it was reported in TV Guide that Murphy would be a permanent judge, a position previously only enjoyed 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.

She has become noted for regularly holding up her hands and screaming enthusiastically as a form of praise, along with giggling constantly during performances she enjoys. Also, Murphy is noted for introducing unique forms of praise, which include calling dancers "Hot Tamales" or issuing them tickets on her "Hot Tamale Train".

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. And although absent most of the season, Murphy made an appearance 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 Dandy " LaVern 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 Fire " Jerry Lee Lewis
Top 14 Footloose " Kenny Loggins (Soundtrack: Footloose)
Heidi Groskreutz
Travis Wall
Paso Doble Plaza of Execution " James Horner (Soundtrack: Zorro - The Mask of Zorro)
Donyelle Jones
Dmitry Chaplin
Samba Hey Mama " The Black Eyed Peas
Natalie Fotopoulos
Dmitry Chaplin
Magaleñha " Sérgio Mendes
4 Mary Murphy
Dmitry Chaplin
Samba Baila, Baila " Angela Via

Burn the Floor

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

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.

Personal life

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.

In 2008, Murphy divorced amicably with her third husband, Phillip Gott, who remains an employee of her ballroom dance academy. On May 28, 2011, Murphy announced that she made amends with her second husband in his final days battling cancer. 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."

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.

On May 21, 2011, RadarOnline broke news of a "bombshell" lawsuit against Murphy who was being sued for unpaid commissions in Los Angeles Superior Court by Michael Sanchez, her long-term manager with the headline, "SYTYCD Judge Mary Murphy's Shocking Cocaine & Sex Scandal." Among the "shocking" details contained in the attached Complaint were allegations Murphy "participated in prescription and illegal drug abuse that caused her to miss or underperform in meetings and appearances."

On November 8, 2012, a TMZ headline exclaimed "Mary Murphy -- Big Loser in Coke-Fueled Sexaholic Lawsuit." The article says "...the judge in the case issued a default judgment against Murphy -- awarding Sanchez $205,160 plus 10% of any future earnings Murphy rakes in from SYTYCD."

On November 9, 2012, Murphy lost her San Diego lawsuit against Sanchez. "" and "HollyScoop" reported Murphy's ex-manager was "on the receiving end of yet another courtroom victory, with a San Diego judge throwing out a second suit from Murphy against Sanchez related to the money issues."

In early December, Celebuzz and USA Today reported Murphy is "Accused of Forging Documents in Ex-Manager Lawsuit" explaining she allegedly forged legal documents in order to avoid paying the November 8th $205,160 judgment.


  • Nominee, Favorite Host/Judge, The 2009 Fox Reality Awards
  • Winner, Favorite Host/Judge, The 2007 Reality Really Awards
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007 Heritage Dance Classic
  • Nominee, Favorite Judge, The 2006 Reality Really Awards
  • U.S. National Professional 9-Dance Champion, 1996 United States Ballroom Dance Championships
  • Austrian National 10-dance and Ballroom Champion, Representatives at the World Championships

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