We Judged Every Reality TV Dance Judge – By How They Danced Back in the Day
'So You Think You Can Dance' Judge Nigel Lythgoe Now
Nigel Lythgoe is the creator, executive producer and a regular judge of “So You Think You Can Dance,” now in its 14th season. He also created the reality TV juggernaut “American Idol.” So what was this uber-judge like as a dancer?
Nigel Lythgoe Then
In the early 70s, Lythgoe performed on camera with the BBC’s “The Young Generation” dance troupe. In 1971 he became their choreographer.
'So You Think You Can Dance' Judge Mary Murphy Now
Mary Murphy joined “So You Think You Can Dance” in its first season as a guest judge and choreographer. She appeared more frequently in the show’s second season, and by season three she was promoted to permanent judge.
Mary Murphy Then
When Murphy was a ballroom dancer, she and her partner Manfred Stiglitz became Austrian National Champions in 1990 and 1991. She climbed the ranks in the professional circuit, eventually winning the esteemed U.S. Open American Nine Dance in 1996 with partner Jim Desmond. This GIF is from a 1983 performance of a Bolero.
'So You Think You Can Dance' Season 14 Judge Vanessa Hudgens Now
Vanessa Hudgens joined the cast of “So You Think You Can Dance” as the third permanent judge for the 14th season. She’ll bring the serious dance skills she showed in Fox’s “Grease Live” last year.
Vanessa Hudgens Then
Hudgens made her name as America’s Sweetheart in the “High School Musical” films. Can you believe the first one premiered 11 years ago?!
'World of Dance' Judge Jennifer Lopez Now
Jennifer is more than a triple threat: She’s her own industry. She initially signed on only as executive producer for the summer hit “World of Dance,” but decided to join the cast of judges, as well.
Jennifer Lopez Then
Before her breakouts in the film “Selena” and her first album “On the 6,” Lopez was chosen from 2,000 applicants to replace a Fly Girl on “In Living Color,” the ’90s comedy TV hit for FOX. She remained on the show for two seasons. BONUS: Guess who else in our list was also a Fly Girl? You’ll have the answer in a few more slides. 😉
'World of Dance' Judge Derek Hough Now
Derek Hough parlayed his “Dancing with the Stars” success – a record six wins! – into mainstream celebrity status. He landed a lead role in NBC’s live musical “Hairspray Live!” and has directed music videos, published a bestseller. He has now joined JLo as a permanent judge on “World of Dance.”
Derek Hough Then
Did you know that just one year prior to his debut on “Dancing With the Stars,” Derek starred as Ren in the 2006 original production of “Footloose: The Musical” on London’s West End?
'World of Dance' Judge Ne-Yo Now
Ne-Yo (real name: Shaffer Chimere Smith) brings dance expertise honed from years of making music videos, high profile performances and a 2016 guest judge stint on “America’s Got Talent.”
Here’s Ne-Yo dancing in one of his earliest music videos, the number 2 hit “Because of You” from 2007.
'Dancing with the Stars' Judge Carrie Ann Inaba Now
Carrie Ann Inaba has been one of the three (now four) permanent judges on ABC’s blockbuster series since its premiere in 2005.
Carrie Ann Inaba Then
Inaba’s professional dance career is rich, long and varied. Some of the highlights include appearing alongside J-Lo as a Fly Girl on “In Living Color” and in several “Austin Powers” movies. Our favorite gig from her past, however, will always be when she danced backup on Madonna‘s “Girlie Show World Tour” in 1993.
'Dancing with the Stars' Judge Bruno Tonioli Now
Despite the occasional change in co-hosts, the judging panel for ABC’s monster hit has been remarkably stable. Permanent judge Bruno Tonioli has also been there from the very beginning. Tonioli also continues as permanent judge for the original British series from which DWTS was adapted, “Strictly Come Dancing.”
Bruno Tonioli Then
In the early 80s, Tonioli danced with prominent companies in both London and Paris. He choreographed music videos and tours for Tina Turner, Duran Duran, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Queen and Elton John. He also danced in some videos, and the highlight of this entire slideshow (for us, at least) is definitely this clip of Bruno performing in Sir Elton’s hit “I’m Still Standing” from 1983.
'Dancing with the Stars' Judge Len Goodman Now
Len Goodman has served as head judge of “Dancing With the Stars” since its premiere. The stately presenter held the same role for the British counterpart “Strictly Come Dancing” until bowing out last year.
Len Goodman Then
Currently age 73, Goodman rose to prominence in the world of professional ballroom dancing after winning the British Championships at Blackpool in his late 20s. He has sustained a long career as a dance coach, cresting as a judge just as the phenomenon of dance TV competitions emerged. This comedic clip of Len teaching dance is from the 1998 Blackpool Dance Congress.
BONUS: 'World of Dance' Host Jenna Dewan Tatum Now
We couldn’t resist including Jenna Dewan Tatum. Although she hosts “World of Dance” instead of serving on the judging panel, by including her in our slideshow, because…
Jenna Dewan Tatum (And Husband Channing Tatum) Then
We wanted to include this GIF from 2006’s “Step Up” featuring Dewan and her husband Channing Tatum. Working on this film is how the couple met!