At 23 years-old, Aljaz is one of two new male professionals joining Strictly this year. Born in Slovenia, Aljaz took to the dance floor at the age of five, enjoying success in his home country where he won 19 Slovenian championships in ballroom and Latin. For over a decade, Aljaz has represented Slovenia in the World Latin and Ballroom Championships, and has also appeared in Slovenia’s Dancing with the Stars. In 2010, Aljaz joined the cast of Burn the Floor where he has since performed around the world as one of its leading males.
Anton Du Beke
Strictly favourite Anton specialises in ballroom dancing and has been performing since the age of 14. As a seasoned pro, Anton has appeared in every series of Strictly to date, but he is still yet to lift the glitter-ball trophy. Anton was memorably matched with former MP Ann Widdecombe, making it to the quarter-finals together in 2010. Last year he partnered model Jerry Hall.
Russian born Artem is a Latin specialist, and lifted the glitter-ball with actress Kara Tointon in series eight. Dancing has taken Artem all over the world and he has worked on various dance projects, including So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Last year Artem partnered TV presenter Fern Britton.
Kiwi Brendan specialises in all things Latin-American and began dancing at the age of six, going on to become the New Zealand and Asian Open Professional Champion. Brendan was the first dancer to lift the glitter ball trophy in series one with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, and has also been a judge on the New Zealand version of Strictly. He and Anton are the longest serving professional dancers on Strictly, and last year Brendan partnered Olympian Victoria Pendleton.
Straight-talking James is a Latin American specialist who started dancing at the age of 11. Together with his wife and fellow Strictly professional dancer, Ola Jordan, James has competed in many competitions and they have also both taught Latin-American dance in Hong Kong. He was a finalist in last year’s Strictly with TV presenter and West End star Denise Van Outen.
A new addition to the Strictly line-up, Kevin is a former Youth World Number One and four time British Latin Champion, who has won International Open titles across the globe. He trained in ballroom and Latin from an early age, taught by his parents, former World Champions Keith and Judy Clifton. Kevin made his musical theatre debut in 2010, starring in Dirty Dancing in the West End, and he has been a principal dancer of the Burn the Floor Dance Company for several years. Kevin has already performed in some of the group dances on last year’s series, and he is engaged to fellow Strictly professional Karen Hauer.
Siberian-born Pasha returns to Strictly after being a runner up last year with Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh. Since his early dancing days Pasha has gone from strength to strength; he was a finalist on the US version of So You Think You Can Dance, performed on Broadway, and starred in the West End’s Burn the Floor. He has also been a finalist as several US Open Ballroom Championships with his partner Anya Garnis.
Having started dancing at the age of three, Robin had a successful youth career until the age of 20. He followed this with a major worldwide touring dance show, and performing on Broadway and in the West End in shows such as Burn the Floor and Floorplay. Last year he and celebrity partner, actress Lisa Riley, knocked the socks off the Strictly audience with their memorable routines, and won the hearts of the nation reaching the semi-finals.
Making her debut on Strictly this year, Russian-born Latin dancer Anya Garnis started dancing at the age of 10. She began competing in 1998 with her dance partner and fellow Strictly star Pasha Kovalev. The pair became finalists several times at the U.S. Open Ballroom Championship, before appearing in the US series So You Think You Can Dance. Anya has also been invited to perform at the Emmys, the Oscars and made various TV appearances including hit TV series True Blood and Bones. Most recently, she headlined on Broadway in Burn the Floor, before joining its World Tour of 20 countries.
Aliona returns to Strictly this year after Natalie Lowe sadly had to bow out due to injury. Aliona is stiff competition after lifting the glitter ball trophy in 2011 with contestant Harry Judd. She began ballroom dancing in Russia at the age of 11 and as an all-round contender she specialises in Ten Dance (the five International Ballroom Dances and the five International Latin Dances) as well as salsa, hip-hop and jazz. In 2001, Aliona was selected by the National Dance Congress to compete against the World Teams for the U.S. and in 2008, became part of the Dancing with the Stars Tour. Last year Aliona was paired with Johnny Ball but was replaced with Iveta Lukosiute early after she sustained an ankle injury.
Iveta is back to join Strictly permanently this year, after stepping in last series for professional dancer Aliona Vilani when she became injured. A dancer from the age of six, Iveta is two times World Professional Champion in the waltz, cha cha, foxtrot, jive, quickstep, and tango to name a few and was a top finalist in So You Think You Can Dance. She is at the top of her field in the world of dance and has secured several international accolades including the world renowned Ten Dance Championships.
A new addition to the Strictly professionals, American born Janette began performing in musical theatre at the age of 12. She worked for the largest Hispanic TV station, Univision, until the age of 18, and then at 19 she began her formal dance training, studying a variety of styles. Janette has performed with Jennifer Lopez at the 82nd Academy Awards and she was the principal dancer in the TV series and the live tour of Glee. Janette was a finalist in So You Think You Can Dance USA season five, before joining the cast of Burn the Floor at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre in 2010.
Venezuelan-born Karen returns for her second year on the show, with her professional partner and fiancé Kevin Clifton joining the Strictly family. After graduating from ‘Fame School’, LaGuardia High in New York, it wasn’t long before she was winning accolades including United Amateur American Rhythm National Champion, Professional World Mambo Champion and United States Professional Rising Star Champion. In 2009, Karen appeared in So You Think You Can Dance, before joining West End sensation Burn the Floor as a principal dancer. Last year Karen partnered Westlife’s Nicky Byrne.
Born in Siberia, Kristina was always passionate about Latin and Ballroom, and began dancing at a young age. She has won a multitude of competitions, and began teaching dance at the age of 16. As well as Strictly, she has been involved with Dancing with the Stars in the USA, and assisted with choreographing So You Think You Can Dance. Outside of Strictly Kristina and professional partner Robin have been West Ends stars of phenomenal series Burn the Floor. Last year Kristina partnered actor Colin Salmon.
Ola began dancing at the age of 12 in her native Poland, and by the age of 17 she had won the Open Polish Championship, going on to be placed in the Top 12 of the World Championships. Joining the show in series four, she danced her way to Strictly victory in the seventh series with partner TV & radio presenter Chris Hollins, and last year won the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special with JLS singer JB Gill. Ola is married to fellow Strictly professional James Jordan, who is yet to have any glitter ball trophies of his own on their mantelpiece...!