It was dance that brought Helen Richey and her husband Robert together

“I looked at this girl and thought that she was ‘a bit of all right’."
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Helen Richey is all class when she shares her years of knowledge on Dancing With The Stars.

And while she and former judge Todd McKenney might have lovingly bickered like a married couple, off-screen, Helen’s romantic life looks a bit different.

After being born around 1945 in Melbourne, Helen donned her dancing shoes from a very young age, studying ballet and tap.

At the age of just 15, she won the coveted Lily Ellison award. Two years later she met her now-husband Robert, who was also a dancer, competing with his sister in the styles of ballroom, Latin, and new Vogue.

When he turned professional and started teaching part-time in a studio, one day, the owner’s daughter brought a friend to the studio…. and Robert was instantly smitten.

helen richey in black dress and silver jewellery
Helen has been dancing since she was a young girl. (Credit: Getty)

“I looked at this girl and thought that she was ‘a bit of all right’,” the dancer told DanceTraks. “She was a very talented ballet & stage dancer and had been dancing and competing very successfully in that field since she was very little. Her name was Helen.”  

From there, things got serious between the couple, who would go on to get married.

After Rob’s sister announced that she didn’t want to dance anymore, Rob’s teacher Fred Jenyns suggested that he and Helen dance together.

“Helen’s reaction was that she could never be good enough (Actually the opposite was the case, as she went on to become one of the greatest Latin Ladies of all time). In any case, we did try and the rest is history.”

Soon after, the couple won the Australian Rising Stars Ballroom Championship. They then headed to the UK to widen their careers – it was where they stayed for 27 years.

helen richey robert richey
Helen and Robert dancing together in the 1971 German Showdance Championships. (Credit: 3sat)

“One of the greatest Latin Ladies” is an apt description for Helen, who has been dubbed “Australia’s first Lady of Latin Dance”.

For over 10 years, Helen was Australia’s official representative in Ballroom and Latin World Championships, and she won many accolades in the process.

Most notably, she became the undefeated All England Latin Champion, as well as placing third in the World Professional Latin Championship, equal third in the British Professional Latin Championship, runner-up in the UK Championship, and twice third in the Internationals.  

When Helen and Robert announced their retirement from competitive dancing in 1980 during the Blackpool Dance Festival, they received a rare standing ovation, according to Outside Change.

dancing with the stars judges 2024 - craig revel horwood, helen richey, sharna burgess, and mark wilson
Helen is a judge on Dancing With The Stars. (Credit: Seven)

While she may have parted with her dancing shoes, Helen has since become one of the world’s most sought-after dance coaches and adjudicators, having reportedly judged national dance championships in almost every country worldwide.

As we know, the former dancer also judges on Dancing With The Stars. Interestingly, many of the professional dancers that have appeared on the series are said to have been, at least in part, trained by Helen herself.

Eventually, Helen and Robert returned Down Under. In 2017, the judge revealed that the couple had moved to the Laurieton Residental resort in NSW.

“My husband Robert and I relocated from Melbourne to the peace and tranquillity of this stunning location,” Helen said in a video promoting the resort.

“We are living our retirement dream.”

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