Bruno Tonioli Reveals The Dancers That Took His Breath Away

Having judged on both "Strictly Come Dancing" in the United Kingdom and "Dancing With the Stars," Bruno Tonioli has seen his fair share of celebrity dancers. The Italian choreographer first joined the panel on BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing" in 2004, which saw journalist and television presenter Natasha Kaplinsky win with her professional partner Brendan Cole, according to Manchester Evening News

Prior to taking a break from "Strictly Come Dancing" in 2020 (via BBC), Tonioli saw the likes of former English cricketer Mark Ramprakash win with Karen Hardy in 2006, singer Alesha Dixon with Matthew Cutler in 2007, and the late TV presenter Caroline Flack with Pasha Kovalev in 2014, Radio Times reported. 

As for his time on "Dancing with the Stars," Tonioli has also witnessed some incredible transformations from celebs since the show's inception, and, of course, some celebrity dancers have been much better than others. But who were the celebrities that truly blew Tonioli away?

A British Olympian is a personal favorite of Bruno Tonioli

Despite starting his career on the judging panel in the United Kingdom, the celebrities that impressed Bruno Tonioli the most actually happened to be on "Dancing with the Stars." Granted, he was very impressed with the talent of Olympic athlete Denise Lewis, who came in second place on the second series of "Strictly Come Dancing" with her professional partner Ian Waite (via Ultimate Strictly).

"I do have my favorites, and I loved watching athlete Denise Lewis dance," Tonioli previously told The Daily Mail. "But I never spend time with the celebrities and, because I don't read newspapers or magazines, I don't know who most of them are ... Someone at the BBC tells me what they do," he added. 

As for "Dancing with the Stars," he's a little more open about his favorite moments. "There have been some beautiful dances," the judge told The Daily Mail, noting the Spice Girls' Melanie Brown as a major highlight in the fifth series, who finished in second place. "I think she should have won," Tonioli added. 

Another highlight was Heather Mills' turn on the dance floor in 2007 (via ABC News), who Tonioli was pleasantly surprised with. "I didn't understand how someone with one leg could come on and dance — and, to be honest, I thought it was going to be car crash TV," he told The Daily Mail, adding, "In fact, she was much better than many people with two legs."