Julian Benson is a choreographer, dance producer, dance director, talent agent-extraordinaire and now Dancing with the Stars-self proclaimed, ‘Captain Sparkle’.
“I’m passionate about dance, style and fashion, so I’ll definitely be bringing the glitz, glamour and entertainment to Sunday nights. Put it this way, just call me ‘Captain Sparkle’.”
Julian began his training at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. It was there where he mastered the art of modern, jazz, tap, ballet and Latin dance, before continuing his training in Paris and Dublin.
On his appointment to Dancing with the Stars judge, Julian says, “I’m delighted and honoured to be working on such an iconic TV show and brand. I’m so looking forward to working with RTÉ and the team, as well as my fellow judges.”
As one of Ireland’s leading choreographers and talent agents, he has developed numerous stage and television productions both home and abroad including The Nutcracker with The Scottish Ballet, The Smash Hits Roadshow in the UK and The RITZ Dance Tour to name a few.
Julian is more than ready to go toe to toe with the other judges if needs be, “I think there’ll be a great dynamic between the three judges. We’re three very powerful personalities. Each of us bring a unique flavour to the show and I’m ready to rumble with both of them if we don’t see eye to eye. If there are disagreements, I will always stand by my opinions. Dancing is so subjective, we are bound to disagree, but no one is going to knock me off my throne!”
Julian has also performed in the UAE where he was responsible for the staging and choreography of the Irish international show, Celtic Fusion.
He was the creator and director of the highly acclaimed dance production, Celtic Rising – a fusion of world cultures which was staged for Prince Albert of Monaco. His royal engagements have also included staging of The Crown Ball for HRH Princess Anne. Will our celebrities meet his royal standard?
“From the contestants, I’m expecting them to go out there and give it their all but I’m expecting high drama on the dance floor! There’ll definitely be a few dance divas, and even divos, but I’m ready for them.”
Backed by some of the world’s leading brands such as Clairol, Budweiser, Louis Vuitton, Escada and Armani, Julian has produced and choreographed many profile fashion and dance events,
In 2008, Julian had the honour of producing and staging the 60th Birthday Concert for Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the National Concert Hall.
“I’ve been dancing for many years, and produced and choreographed a number
of highly successful shows. My fellow judges would be a lot more technically-minded, I’m going to be the peoples’ judge. I’ll be looking for ‘the three P’s’;
Passion, performance and personality.”
With over fifty national and international titles under her belt, Loraine Barry is one of the most successful ballroom dancers Ireland has ever produced.
Despite her success around the world, Loraine’s roots are still firmly planted in Ireland, “I was honoured to be asked to be a judge on the show in Ireland” says Loraine. “Even though I don’t live here anymore and haven’t for many years, I am Irish, I’ll always be Irish, I still carry an Irish passport! So to come back home to where my dance training began at the age of six and do this show is such an honour.”
It was at the age of six, when Loraine moved from dancing around the kitchen to taking her first ballroom dance lessons. Her passion and natural flair soon took her into local and national competitions winning the juvenile and junior All Ireland Championships. Soon after this, Loraine took on the best in the world and at just seventeen became Open British Youth Ballroom Champion.
Loraine then joined the Adult Amateur ranks competing all over the world and always learning. By the late- 80’s, Loraine had won three British Open, two World, three International, two European and two United States Championships together with many national titles including the All-Ireland Championship.
As the world’s leading Amateur, it wasn’t long before Loraine turned Professional and again rose through the professional ranks. By the late 90’s and early 00’s Loraine had accomplished three Open British Championships, two World, two International, two European and six Closed British Titles.
In 2001 Loraine bowed out of professional competition. She totally believes in giving back to the art form she loves and now judges and teaches all over the world; she will now bring that expertise to Dancing with the Stars Ireland, “I’ll be a very fair judge to the celebrities, we have to understand that the majority of celebrities have little to no dance experience so they’re being taken completely out of their comfort zones. I’ll be mainly looking for characterization of dances in the early stages but I’ll expect technical ability to develop as the show progresses.”
Her services to Dance have been recognized with four British Dance Federation Awards, The German Open Award, The Japanese Prince Mikasa Award, The Arthur Murray Award and last but not least The Irish Dance Federation Award.
The encouragement of everyone to take up dancing is Loraine’s mission, so to now join as a judge on the first Ireland series of Dancing with the Stars is a dream come true. “I’m expecting the show to explode! We have so much great talent in Ireland, we have world champion dancers that have come from here but people don’t realize that. This series will be a fabulous window for Ballroom in Ireland and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”
Brian is one of the most successful male ballroom dancers to come from Ireland in the last 30 years. During his competitive career he won eight All Ireland Ballroom, Latin and show dance championships in various age groups.
Brian comes from a family of dancers. At the age of 11 his parents brought him to his first dance competition and it was there that his fascination began.
As a teenager, Brian moved to London to train under the top ballroom dancing coaches. He has competed, demonstrated and taught dance all over the world. He has taken to the floor in the iconic Tower and Winter Ballrooms in Blackpool and the world famous Albert Hall in London.
When Brian retired from competition in 2005, he began coaching dance full time and opened his own dance studios in Dublin. He has gone on to coach All Ireland champions and developed another business, Spin Activity Centre, in both Dublin and Kildare.
The dancing genes have definitely been passed down in the Redmond family as Brian’s younger brother runs a successful chain of dance studios in Hong Kong and China. Brian is married and has two children who constantly keep him on his toes!
As he gets ready to take on a new role of judging on the first series of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Brian says, “I’m really, really excited to be taking part as a judge on Dancing with the Stars. After years working as a competitor and competition judge around the world, I’m delighted to become a part of the Dancing with the Stars family.”
The experience that he’s gained judging competitions means Brian already knows what sort of judge he will be, “I don’t envisage myself being the “nasty” judge. I’ll be very honest though, it’s the only way I know how. I’ll be expecting more than for celebrities to just take part. It’s a massive commitment and if I don’t feel like they’re giving it their all, I’ll have to pull them up on it.”