Talent Recap

Bruno Tonioli Reveals The REAL Reason He Left ‘Strictly Come Dancing’

Bruno Tonioli on 'Dancing With the Stars'Photo by Christopher Willard/ABC

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s no secret that Bruno Tonioli has recently made a giant career move. After years of judging both Dancing With the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing, Tonioli has left Strictly Come Dancing. Since the announcement of his departure, he’s explained the reason.

Bruno Tonioli recently said goodbye to Strictly Come Dancing to focus on Dancing With the Stars. While discussing his departure, the choreographer explained there was “no animosity, it was a mutual decision.”

For the past 14 years, Tonioli has gone through multiple time zones ever week to film both DWTS and Strictly Come Dancing. The 66 year old explained that he “couldn’t do the flying any more.”

Since Strictly Come Dancing would go on late on Saturday night, the TV judge said that he would make it home around midnight, then wake up early in the morning to fly to Los Angeles, California. He has meetings as soon as he landed, so he never got to catch up on sleep. From there, Tonioli would work on Dancing With the Stars for a few days before returning to London for Strictly Come Dancing on the weekend. He did this for 11 weeks in a row during the dance competitions’ seasons.

“The schedule was insane,” he said. “There was a moment live on Strictly when I blanked. I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing.”

Luckily, that only happened for a moment before he noticed the audience and remembered where he was. While living the double life between Dancing With the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing, Tonioli trained himself to deal with the jet lag. In doing so, he didn’t allow himself to go out, or see anyone. It seems like being live on air was a bit easier than the off times for the TV judge, since he explained that the live show gave an adrenaline rush.

Bruno Tonioli Says Strictly Come Dancing “Changed My Life”

Even though Tonioli disliked the travel aspect of his TV judge experiences, he didn’t dislike the shows themselves. This dancer originated as a self trained performer, but went on to dance in Paris, London, and even more. Later, he became a choreographer and worked with legends like David Bowie and Tina Turner. Soon after, the Strictly Come Dancing producers reached out to him.

“Strictly changed my life, it was like being born again,” he said. “I was a successful choreographer but this was like going back to the beginning as a performer. I loved it.”

Tonioli appeared on Strictly Come Dancing since it’s debut season in 2004. Once the show became a UK hit, it came over to America. This TV judge flew across the Atlantic ocean weekly, until the coronavirus pandemic, when he was asked to appear virtually. Tonioli was replaced temporarily by professional dancer, Anton Du Beke. As a result, Strictly Come Dancing fans learned to love the stand in. Tonioli’s departure from this popular series was not as a result of his stand in, instead, it was a solution to the TV judge’s years of drowsiness.

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