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Shirley Ballas on Loose Women© Shutterstock

Strictly star Shirley Ballas addresses 'super-strict' training amid Giovanni Pernice investigation

The professional dancer and Strictly judge opened up 

Megan Bull
TV Writer
July 7, 2024
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Shirley Ballas continues to show her support for Giovanni Pernice. Speaking with press on Saturday, the Strictly judge was quizzed about her co-star, amid the BBC's ongoing investigation into his teaching style. 

"I've known Giovanni for 10 years, and he's a good friend of mine. But I'm not involved on any side of that [the investigation]," she said. "I think before I speak, and I stay in my lane, which is ballroom dancing. I think everybody goes into Strictly with the best will in the world to entertain the country."

Giovanni Pernice kissing Shirley Ballas on the cheek© Instagram
Shirley Ballas was asked about the ongoing investigation into Giovanni Pernice's teaching style

Noting that in the dancing industry "everybody is very competitive," Shirley acknowledged that it can be difficult to navigate training as a professional.

"You don't want to kill their enthusiasm or the thought that they can be the Glitterball champion. So, I think sometimes, words can be cruel and people deliver them in not a great way. I learned the difference.

Shirley Ballas in a blue and white dress© Karwai Tang
Shirley noted that the dance industry can be 'very competitive'

"I can be super-strict when somebody is trying to win the gold medal, then I can still be quite strict but in a positive way on Strictly so they will learn something. That's always ongoing for me. I'm always searching for the best way I can bring great constructive criticism."

After working with Giovanni for years, Shirley has come to his defence in recent months, following reports of a feud between the star and his former dance partner, Amanda Abbington. 

In January, Shirley was asked about Giovanni's approach to teaching while appearing on Lorraine. "I've known Giovanni for many years and he is an absolutely splendid teacher," she replied.

Shirley Ballas on Lorraine© Shutterstock
Shirley has continued to defend Giovanni in recent months

"My only ever experience with him is he is an absolute gentlemen. He gives 100%. Strictly and shows like that, they are tough shows so you know when you sign up for that kind of thing. It's quite difficult to do the show."

Amanda was partnered with Giovanni in the most recent series of Strictly, but abruptly quit after a few weeks citing "personal reasons" that left her "unable to continue". She has subsequently opened up about her time on the show, revealing that she had been diagnosed with PTSD after Strictly. 

Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington © BBC
Giovanni with his former dance partner Amanda Abbington

As a result, the BBC has launched an investigation. It has also been confirmed that Giovanni will not be joining the Strictly line-up for 2024, and is instead performing in his namesake tour, Giovanni Pernice - The Last Dance.

While the star has been keeping a low profile, on June 16 he penned a statement on Instagram, insisting that "the latest accusations are simply false" and that he is "cooperating" with the investigation. 

View post on Instagram

"I have stayed silent, but I am looking forward to the conclusion of the investigation and ultimately clearing my name and establishing the truth," he continued. "I am so happy to be back on tour. Thank you all for your continued support – your messages and love mean so very much to me." 

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