Arlene Phillips


(born 22 May 1943)

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Arlene Phillips originally wanted to be a ballet dancer and began dance classes at the age of three, studying ballet and tap dance at the Muriel Tweedy School in Manchester. Her mother had always expressed a desire to dance, which inspired Arlene to pursue dance professionally.

She moved to London in the 1970’s and discovered Modern American Jazz. Immediately falling in love with the dance form she developed her own Jazz style and began offering classes at Pineapple Dance Studio. She soon became recognised as a popular teacher and choreographer.

Arlene Phillips came to prominence in the dance world by creating in 1974 the often controversial but hugely popular dance group HotGossip. Since that time she has become a world-renowned Director and Choreographer with her work seen widely on stage, feature film, concert arenas, television, music videos and commercials.

Arlene has collaborated with notable directors on numerous projects including The Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music (1980), Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983), with Tom Cruise, and The Wind In the Willows (1996). Through the 1980’s music video became popular and Arlene worked on many projects with popular artists (AC/DC, The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Kiss…). Television continued to be a creative source and numerous award ceremonies, popular seriesand TV specials kept Arlene continually traveling between England and America. Arlene has worked on huge worldwide productions such as Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Bratz Arena Tour and the British 2009 entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Arlene’s renowned choreography has been seen in a number of much loved musicals, including Flashdance, Sleeping Beauty, Grease, We Will Rock You and Matador.

Whilst maintaining her choreography Arlene was increasingly asked to take on role as director in shows such as Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Joseph and Jesus Christ Superstar (US tours). Arlene is now widely recognized as a TV personality appearing on chat shows and talent TV reality shows famous internationally and is much loved in the UK, especially as a judge on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing. Alongside theatre producer David Ian, Arlene created a new musical drama Britannia High and is currently creating her own dance show, the first to embrace every style of dance.

She was appointed as the Government’s ‘Dance Tsar’ to help improve the UK’s health and fitness in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Arlene has choreographed over one hundred TV commercials in England and America including 7-Up, American Express, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Levi Jeans, Vidal Sasoon and Yellow Pages.

Arlene’s relationship with dance has allowed her significant accolades including nominations for Tony Awards, Olivier Awards, a National Broadway and a FaNY. Awards include an MTV award, a Drama Desk, a BAFTA and an Emmy for best choreography.  In the 2002 New Years Honours List Arlene was awarded an OBE for Services to Dance and in 2004 a Companionship Award from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts for her contribution to dance, presented by Sir Paul McCartney.  She has also been awarded Honorary Membership in 2006 by the International Dance Teachers Association and a Carl Alan Award for Services to Dance.

She lives in London with her partner, set designer, Angus Ion. They have two daughters. In 2010 Arlene wrote a series of children’s fiction books. Alana Dancing Star is a series of 6 books revolving around the central character Alana and her journeys through different genres of dance. The series covers Ballroom Dance, Samba, Hip-Hop, Bollywood, Broadway and Tango and many parents credit them with encouraging their children to read. In Summer 2011 one of the books, Viennese Waltz, was selected to be part of Richard and Judy’s Summer Children’s Reading List.