Mary Murphy 2

Mary Ann Murphy (born 1958) is a ballroom dance champion, accredited dance judge, and a regular 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 Las Vegas dance competition, the Holiday Dance Classic. She frequently serves as a judge in several competitions, including the U.S. National Ballroom Championships.

Personal LifeEdit

In an October 2009 interview on Larry King Live, Murphy said that as a young bride and during her nine year marriage she was a victim of domestic abuse. She said she was speaking out so that other victims could learn from how she endured, but escaped, domestic violence. Her ex-husband denies ever physically or mentally abusing her.

So You Think You Can DanceEdit

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 was a regular judge on season 6. She is not a regular judge on season 7, but she did judge auditions.


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 — Black Eyed Peas
Natalie Fotopoulos Dmitry Chaplin Magaleñha — Sérgio Mendes
4 Mary Murphy Dmitry Chaplin Samba Baila, Baila — Angela Via


  • 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