Bruno Tonioli ([ˈbruno tonˈjɔli]; born 25 November 1955) is an Italian choreographer, ballroom and Latin dancer, and TV personality. He appears as a judge on the British television dance competition Strictly Come Dancing and its American adaptation Dancing with the Stars on ABC TV in the US. Tonioli co-created and appeared on the BBC talent show DanceX, and its American adaptation, Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann. He earns £200,000 to £249,000 as a BBC contributor.
In the early 1980s, Tonioli was a member of the Paris-based company La Grande Eugène, and later joined the Lindsay Kemp Company. He worked extensively as a freelance dancer.
In 1980, Tonioli unsuccessfully, as part of the group Duke and the Aces, took part in the United Kingdom's competition to select an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Tonioli has worked in the music business as a choreographer for music videos, stage shows, and tours for artists such as Tina Turner, Sting, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Freddie Mercury, Sinitta, Boy George, Dead or Alive, and Duran Duran. He danced in Elton John's 1983 "I'm Still Standing" video.
His close association with Bananarama produced many videos, from "Venus" to "Movin' On". Tonioli was also one of the male dancers on "I Heard a Rumour".
Tonioli choreographed the band Arcadia's music video for their song "Election Day" as documented in a 1980s documentary entitled The Making of Election Day. He was the choreographer for Ella Enchanted's Minnie Driver.
Tonioli's film credits include Ella Enchanted, The Gathering Storm, Little Voice, Dancin' thru the Dark, Enigma, The Parole Officer, and What a Girl Wants. His television film credits include the Blake's 7 episode Rescue, Miss Marple's The Body in the Library, Blonde Bombshell, Scarlet Pimpernel, and The Bare Necessities. Theatre credits include La Vie Parisienne, Godspell, Steve Coogan's show The Man Who Thinks He's It, and Forbidden Passion (BBC TV trilogy in 1985, entitled Oscar in the UK), playing manservant to Oscar Wilde (Michael Gambon).
Other television credits include Absolutely Fabulous (2003), The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon, Ghosts of Oxford Street, The BRIT Awards (1988, 1990, 1991), many Top of the Pops, three Royal Variety Performance shows, Miss World (1998–1999), and the Australian edition of Dancing with the Stars as a guest judge.
In the United States, he has appeared on numerous talk shows including Larry King Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Bonnie Hunt Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The View, Live with Regis & Kelly, Rachael Ray, The Soup, Lopez Tonight, and Chelsea Lately.
In January 2008, ABC premiered Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie-Ann. Tonioli's team won the viewer-voted competition, earning a contract with Hollywood Records.
In 2009 and 2010, he was a judge on the UK tour of Strictly Come Dancing Live, appearing at 45 shows on each tour.
Tonioli's commentary style often includes colourful descriptives. As examples, during his time with the U.S. Dancing With the Stars, Tonioli called Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan "a little lynx on the prowl" and labelled singer and actor Billy Ray Cyrus "a crazy bear lost in a swamp".
A minor controversy arose following Tonioli's remarks to U.S. Dancing With the Stars contestant Michael Bolton and dance partner Chelsie Hightower on the 27 September 2010 after show, when the judge called Bolton's jive dance the worst he had seen in all 11 seasons. Bolton expressed his dissatisfaction prominently in the media afterward, prompting ABC to release a statement defending Tonioli.
In 2016, a surprise challenge saw Tonioli work with Jodie Sweetin and season 22 (U.S.) eventual-winner Nyle DiMarco and their professional partners. During the sequence, the two celebrities swapped partners, seeing DiMarco and Keo Motsepe dance the tango in ballroom hold, with both men shirtless, and Mostsepe lift and twirl DiMarco. This was the first time a same-sex pairing danced in any franchise of the show.
In September 2012, Tonioli released an autobiography entitled Bruno Tonioli: My Story. The same year, he appeared as a mariachi singer and dancer in a Dole commercial.
In 2016, Tonioli appeared in a Season 2 episode of Fuller House, playing Ramona's dance teacher.
In November 2016 he lent his name to an album released by Decca entitled An Italian Romance – a compilation of Italian songs by various artists selected by Tonioli. The cover of the album was shot by John Mac.
In November 2018 Tonioli presented the BBC Radio 2 series Bruno Tonioli at the Opera.
In 2009 Rolling Stone magazine said that Tonioli had "won America's heart with his gay-Italian-maniac steez."
Tonioli was born in Ferrara, in northeast Italy. His father Werther was a bus driver and his mother Fulvia stitched car-seat upholstery. The family lived with his paternal grandparents until he was 12. Tonioli is fluent in five languages: Italian, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. He has lived in London since 1975.
Tonioli is gay, and has spoken of the homophobic bullying he suffered in his youth.