101 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Strictly Come Dancing Professional Dancers

From broken records and previous TV appearances, to Anton Du Beke's real name.

1. Kevin Clifton set a new Strictly record in 2015 by becoming the first professional ever to reach the final for three consecutive years, and went on to beat his own record the following year.

2. Kevin is a former Youth World Number One and four times British Latin Champion, also winning International Open titles in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Japan, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Belgium.

Lia Toby via Getty Images

3. Kevin competed as a child with his sister Joanne, who also went on to become a Strictly professional in 2014.

4. Kevin and Joanne were taught to dance from an early age by their parents – former World Champions Keith and Judy Clifton.

Danny Lawson - PA Images via Getty Images

5. Kevin retired from competitive dancing in 2007, and was ranked seventh in the world at the time.

6. Kevin has been married three times. He married his Latin partner Anna Melnikova in 2003 when he was just 20, before marrying his second wife, professional dancer Clare Craze in 2007. They split in 2010 with their divorce finalised three years later. He then married fellow Strictly pro Karen Hauer in 2015, but the couple announced they had split in 2018, with Kevin now dating his former Strictly partner Stacey Dooley.

PA Archive/PA Images

7. Kevin made his musical theatre debut in 2010, starring in a West End production of Dirty Dancing: The Musical and has since taken the lead in a touring production of Rock Of Ages in 2019.

8. Kevin proposed to Karen on stage at a performance of Burn The Floor on her birthday.

Karwai Tang via Getty Images

9. Kevin was previously a background dancer on Strictly in 2012, before being invited to join the pro cast a year later.

10. Kevin was previously turned down from the show when he auditioned alongside Janette Manrara and Alijaz Skorjanec, as he was sporting a ‘gothy’ look at the time that producers didn’t like.

11. Kevin now holds the record for the highest number of 10s awarded, following the departure of previous record-holder Pasha Kovalev, at 77. He also holds the record for number of dances scoring 40 at 35.

12. Kevin’s favourite dance is the Jive.

13. Karen Hauer is originally from Venezuela, but moved to New York when she was eight-years-old.

Ian West - PA Images via Getty Images

14. Karen has won numerous ballroom awards, including World Mambo Champion in 2008 and Professional American Rhythm Rising Star Champion in 2009.

15. Karen was married to fellow dancer Matthew Hauer prior to her relationship with Kevin.

16. Karen and Matthew previously auditioned for series six of So You Think You Can Dance? in the US in 2009, and she reached the final six girls.

17. Karen and Kevin met in 2008, when they were cast as principal dancers in Burn The Floor, both on Broadway and in the West End.

18. Karen is now the longest-serving female pro on Strictly, having joined the show in 2012.

19. Karen has never scored a perfect 40 during her seven years on Strictly, and has only scored two 10s during that time too.

20. Karen is a keen baker and likes to make Pavlovas and Victoria sponge cakes in her spare time.

21. Oti Mabuse is originally from Pretoria in South Africa and was living in Germany prior to joining Strictly Come Dancing in 2015.

PA Archive/PA Images

22. Oti was previously a professional dancer on the German version of Strictly called Let’s Dance!, where she was judged by her sister Motsi, who is now coincidentally Strictly’s newest judge.

Oti Mabuses sister
Oti Mabuses sister

23. Oti studied Civil Engineering at university.

24. Oti is eight times South African Latin American Champion, and was also a semi-finalist in the World European Latin, World Cup, World Cup Freestyle Latin and European Championship Latin competitions.

25. Oti is married to Romanian dancer Marius Lepure, who has appeared as a background dancer on Strictly on a number of occasions.

26. Oti is the current female professional with the most 10s to her name (as of September 2019), having been awarded 26. She also has the most 40s out of all the female pros, with four perfect scores over her time on the show.

27. Gorka Marquez is one of the top dancers in his native Spain.

Ian West - PA Images via Getty Images

28. Gorka represented his home country in the World Latin Championships in 2010, and reached the semi-finals of the 2012 WDSF World Cup.

29. Gorka is also a health and fitness enthusiast, regularly posting videos and pictures of his gym routines (and the results of them) on Instagram.

30. Gorka and Graziano Di Prima are the first professional dancers to be ‘benched’ after previously having celebrity partners, as in 2019, it was confirmed the pair would only appear in group routines, allowing Neil Jones and Johannes Rabede to step up.

31. Gorka met his partner, former Emmerdale star Gemma Atkinson, on the show in 2017, with the couple now having a baby daughter, Mia.

Karwai Tang via Getty Images

32. Nadiya Bychkova is a two-time World Champion and European Champion in ballroom and Latin ‘10’ Dance. She is also multiple-time Slovenian ballroom and Latin Champion.

33. Nadiya has previously taken part in the Bosnian version of Strictly, and can also do hip-hop dancing.

Mike Marsland via Getty Images

34. Nadiya was already pals with fellow professional dancer Aljaž Skorjanec prior to joining the show, having trained at the same dance school in Slovenia.

35. Nadiya has a one-year-old daughter with partner Matija Skarabot, a famous Slovenian footballer who plays for Gorica.

36. Nadiya is also a model and has posed for Playboy.

37. Nadiya is originally from the Ukraine.

38. Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara are married, tying the knot in July 2017 after six years of dating.

39. Aljaž is a 19-time Slovenian champion in Ballroom, Latin and ’10′ Dance.

40. Aljaž was brought up in a small town in Slovenia where he started dancing aged five, signing himself up for dance lessons in nursery without his parents’ knowledge.

41. Aljaž previously starred on Slovenia’s Dancing With the Stars.

42. Janette Manrara auditioned for the fourth series of So You Think You Can Dance? in 2008, but failed to make it into the top 20. She returned the following year and made it to the lives shows, but was eliminated in week seven.

43. Janette later appeared as a dancer in musical TV series Glee.

44. Janette has also worked on the Oscars and danced with Jennifer Lopez.

45. Janette started training as a dancer aged 19, but studied finance at Florida International University, and went on to work in a bank for seven years after graduating.

SOPA Images via Getty Images

46. Janette is originally from Miami, with her family hailing from Cuba.

47. Amy Dowden is a former British National Champion and one of the highest-ranking Ballroom and Latin American professional dancers in the UK.

Mike Marsland via Getty Images

48. Amy is also a four-time British National Finalist and in 2015, she reached the semi-final of the World Championship.

49. Amy was the first ever Welsh professional to join Strictly.

50. Amy has only scored one 10 during her two years on the show.

51. Giovanni Pernice has won various titles including the Italian Open Latin Dance Championships in 2012 with his dance partner Erika Attisano, and finished second place in the International Open Latin in Slovenia 2014.

Karwai Tang via Getty Images

52. Giovanni holds the Strictly record for getting the earliest ever 40 in the competition, which was in week seven of the 2017 series, for his Tango with Debbie McGee.

53. Giovanni also holds the record for the current professional with the most 40s awarded, totalling seven. Pasha Kovalev previously held the record with 13.

54. Giovanni went on to date Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote after they were paired together on the 2015 series. They split after less than a year together.

Dave J Hogan via Getty Images

55. Giovanni is now dating 2018 Strictly finalist and former Pussycat Doll, Ashley Roberts.

56. Giovanni has a tattoo on his arm which reads ‘Nato Per Vincere’ meaning ‘Born To Win’, as well as the date he won the Italian Championships on his wrist.

57. Giovanni was born in Sicily but moved to Bologna at the age of 14 to concentrate on dancing.

58. Giovanni holds the Guinness World Record for the most Jive kicks and flicks in 30 seconds after winning It Takes Two’s pro challenge in 2016.

59. Dianne Buswell has previously been crowned Australian Open Champion and is a four-time Amateur Australian Open Finalist.

60. Dianne won the Adult New Vogue WA Championships in 2008 and 2010 along with her brother Andrew.

PA Archive/PA Images

61. Dianne previously auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance Australia.

62. Dianne was a pro on the last series of Dancing With The Stars Australia in 2015, where she was fifth to be eliminated with partner Jude Bolton.

63. Dianne has had roles in musicals Legally Blonde and Rock of Ages.

64. Dianne is the Strictly professional with the most Instagram followers, totalling over 750k followers as of September 2019. She had a huge bump after she embarked on a relationship with her 2018 Strictly partner, YouTuber Joe Sugg, who has a huge following online.

65. AJ Pritchard was Strictly’s youngest ever male pro when he joined the show in 2016 at the age of 21.

SOPA Images via Getty Images

66. AJ’s competitive partner is Chloe Hewitt, who was also one of the pro dancers, but never received a celebrity partner prior to her exit in 2018.

67. With Chloe, AJ has won titles including – deep breath – the British National Youth Latin Contest, the United Kingdom Youth Ballroom Championships, the Champions Of Tomorrow Youth Ballroom & Latin, and the all England Youth Ballroom & Latin tournament.

68. AJ and Chloe entered Britain’s Got Talent in 2013 as a dance act, and reached the live semi-finals.

69. Anton Du Beke is the only two remaining original professionals, both appearing in the very first episode.

David Lodge via Getty Images

70. Anton is the oldest pro on the show, turning 53 in 2019.

71. Anton’s real name is Tony Beke.

72. Anton’s former competitive partner is former Strictly pro Erin Boag, and the couple continue to dance together outside of the show.

73. Anton and Erin won the the New Zealand Championship two years in a row during the late 1990s.

Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

74. Anton has only twice reached the Strictly final – once in the third series with Lesley Garrett, and then with Katie Derham in 2015.

75. Anton hold the record for the most number of 1s given out by the judges (5).

76. Anton is the current professional with the lowest score to their name, having received 12/40 a total of three times.

77. Anton and his wife Hannah welcomed twins in March 2017.

David M. Benett via Getty Images

78. Anton won the title of Rear Of The Year in 2011.

79. Anton used to work as a salesman prior to becoming a professional dancer.

80. Johannes Radebe reached the final of the South African version of Strictly twice before joining the UK series in 2018.

PA Archive/PA Images

81. Johannes is a two-time Professional South African Latin Champion and three-time South African Amateur Latin Champion.

82. Johannes posed for LGBTQ magazine Attitude shortly after joining Strictly, where he spoke of the homophobic bullying he’d experienced as a child.

83. Katya Jones is originally from Saint Petersburg in Russia. Her mother is of Korean ethnicity, and her father is a Russian businessman.

84. Katya is married to fellow Strictly pro Neil Jones, but the pair announced their separation prior to the 2019 series after six years of marriage.

PA Wire/PA Images

85. Katya and Neil met in 2008 when her trainers (one of whom was former Strictly pro Karen Hardy) recommended Neil as a potential dance partner.

86. Katya and Neil won the WDC World Championships, as well as three titles at the World Amateur Latin Championships, before they finally turned pro in 2013.

87. Katya and Neil were also the undefeated British National Champions for four years.

88. Neil Jones had never had a celeb partner prior to 2019, sitting on the subs bench for his first three series. However, he was paired up with Judy Murray on the 2017 Christmas special, and Olympian Hollie Webb and former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq on the 2016 and 2017 Children In Need Specials respectively.

SOPA Images via Getty Images

89. Neil was born in a British Army Camp in Munster, Germany.

90. Neil has represented Finland, the Netherlands and the UK during the course of his competitive career.

91. Graziano Di Prima is a former Italian Latin Champion, and has also represented Belgium at the World Championships, and has also made the top 24 at the under 21s Latin World Championships.

Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

92. Graziano was appearing in a production of dance show Burn The Floor in Watford in May when he asked girlfriend Giada Lini to marry him midway through the show.

93. Graziano girlfriend Giada made an appearance as a backing dancer on Strictly last year, after he joined the professional line-up.

David M. Benett via Getty Images

94. Luba Mushtuk is a four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship and was ranked second in the European 10 Dance Championships.

95. Luba, who is from Russia, served as an assistant choreographer on Strictly for two years before she joined the professional team in 2018.

Lia Toby via Getty Images

96. Luba had performed on both Giovanni Pernice and Kevin and Karen Clifton’s live tours prior to becoming a Strictly pro.

97. Nancy Xu is Strictly’s newest professional, joining the show for the 2019 series. However, she has not received a partner and will only feature in the group dances.

98. She is a specialist in Latin dance and was previously a finalist in the Under 21 World Championships in 2010 and a runner up at the 2013 International Singapore Championships.

Lia Toby via Getty Images

99. Nancy, who hails from China, is the first Asian dancer to become a Strictly pro.

100. Nancy was previously a finalist on the Chinese version of So You Think You Can Dance.

101. Dianne, Graziano, Karen, Kevin, Gorka, Janette, Aljaž and Nancy have all appeared in the Burn The Floor dance production either on Broadway or the West End at some point during its run.

Strictly Come Dancing 2019 Launch


What's Hot