Our pro line-up for 2019 revealed!
Today we can confirm our line-up of professional dancers for the 17th series of Strictly back on BBC One in the Autumn.
AJ was born in Stoke-on-Trent and in 2015 he won one of the biggest championships in the world to become British Open Youth Latin Champion and European Youth Latin Champion. Prior to this, he was National Youth Latin Champion for three years in a row from 2012-2014. AJ has been part of Strictly Come Dancing for three series and has made the semi-final every year, with celebrities Claudia Fragapane, Mollie King and most recently Paralympic athlete Lauren Steadman.
Born in Slovenia, Aljaž took to the dance floor at the age of five and enjoyed much success in his home country where he won 19 Slovenian championships in Ballroom and Latin. For over a decade of competing, Aljaž represented Slovenia at a world level. Aljaž joined Strictly Come Dancing in 2013 and during his first year, he lifted the Glitter Ball Trophy with Abbey Clancy. Last year, he was partnered with BBC journalist Kate Silverton.
Amy grew up watching Strictly Come Dancing from her home town of Caerphilly, South Wales and in 2017 her dream of dancing on the show came true, when she joined the series as a professional dancer. She began dancing at the age of eight, is a four-time British National Finalist and went on to become British National Champion, making her one of the highest-ranking Ballroom and Latin dancers in the UK. During her competitive career, she also reached the semi-final of the World Championship.
“King of the Ballroom” Anton Du Beke has been performing since the age of 14. He has appeared in every series of Strictly Come Dancing to date, but is yet to lift the Glitter Ball Trophy, although he made it to the final with Katie Derham in 2015. Anton’s partnerships have included Ann Widdecombe, Jerry Hall, Nancy Dell’Olio, Judy Murray and Ruth Langsford, and over the years he has provided the show with some of its most memorable moments.
Dianne Buswell is an Australian Open Champion and four-time Amateur Australian Open Finalist. She has danced all around the world as part of the ballroom and Latin touring company Burn the Floor. Dianne was a professional dancer on the Australian version of Strictly Come Dancing before joining the UK series in 2017. Most recently she was partnered with social media star Joe Sugg and they reached the final in 2018.
Giovanni Pernice was born in Sicily and started dancing from a young age. At 14 years old he moved to Bologna to pursue his career and successfully won the Italian Championships in 2012. Giovanni has been a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing for four series, and has made the final three times, with Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee and most recently with Faye Tozer from Steps.
Gorka Marquez began dancing at the age of 12. He represented Spain in the World Latin Championships in 2010 and reached the semi-finals of the 2012 WDSF World Cup. Gorka has been a professional dancer on Strictly since 2016 and in his second year he made it to the final with Alexandra Burke. Most recently he was partnered with Katie Piper.
Sicilian-born Graziano Di Prima, an Italian Latin Champion, joined Strictly Come Dancing in 2018. He was partnered with Capital FM’s Vick Hope for his first year and together they made it to week five of the competition. Before Strictly, as well as competing for his home country, Graziano has also represented Belgium at the World Championships and made the top 24 at the Latin World Championships (under 21). Graziano has also toured the world with the dance company Burn The Floor.
Janette Manrara was born in Miami, Florida and joined the Strictly Come Dancing family in 2013. Before Strictly, Janette was already a dancer at a global level, performing with Jennifer Lopez at the 82nd Academy Awards as well as being a principal dancer in the TV series ‘Glee’. Janette was also a finalist in season five of So You Think You Can Dance in the USA. Janette’s Strictly partners have included Jake Wood, Peter Andre and most recently This Morning’s Dr Ranj. Janette has won the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special twice with partners Melvin Odoom and Aston Merrygold.
Johannes Radebe is a two-time Professional South African Latin Champion and a three time South African Amateur Latin Champion. He joined Strictly Come Dancing as a professional dancer in 2018 and has also competed on Strictly Come Dancing South Africa twice, reaching the final both times.
Originally from Venezuela, Karen moved to New York when she was eight years old where she became United Amateur American Rhythm National Champion and Professional World Mambo Champion. In 2009, Karen appeared in the US series So You Think You Can Dance before joining Burn the Floor as a principal dancer. Karen is the longest-serving female professional on Strictly and over the years has enjoyed successful partnerships with Jeremy Vine, Mark Wright and most recently reached the quarter-final with Casualty’s Charles Venn.
World Latin Champion Katya Jones was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia and started dancing at the age of six where she trained in gymnastics as well as Ballroom and Latin American dancing. In 2008, Katya and partner Neil Jones won the World Amateur Latin Championships a total of three times, before turning professional in 2013. In 2015, they became the World Professional Latin Showdance Champions and were four times undefeated British National Professional Champions. Katya also became a champion on Strictly Come Dancing, with Joe McFadden in 2017. In her first year on Strictly she was partnered with Ed Balls, and their Salsa to Gangnam Style has gone down in Strictly history.
Kevin Clifton is a former Youth World Number One and four-time British Latin Champion. Taught by his parents Keith and Judy Clifton from an early age, former World Champions themselves, Kevin went on to win International Open titles all over the world. Kevin has also been enjoying a west-end career. He has appeared in Dirty Dancing and this year has been impressing audiences with his turn as Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages. During Kevin’s time on the series he has successful made it to five finals and finally lifted the Strictly glitterball in 2018 with Stacey Dooley.
Russian-born Luba Mushtuk is four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship and is also an Italian Open Latin Show Dance champion. She is also a Latin European Championship finalist. Luba has worked extensively with the Broadway and West End show Burn The Floor, and was part of the Strictly Come Dancing family for several years as an assistant choreographer, before becoming a professional dancer on the programme in 2018.
Nadiya Bychkova is highly decorated dancer originally from Ukraine. She now splits her time between the UK and Slovenia where she lives with her fiancé and young daughter. Professionally, Nadiya is a multiple-time Slovenian Ballroom and Latin Champion, a two-time World Champion and European Champion in Ballroom and Latin ‘10’ Dance. On Strictly, Nadiya has danced on two series where she has partnered Davood Ghadami and Lee Ryan.
Neil Jones is the four-time undefeated British National Professional Champion and the three-time winner of the World Amateur Latin Championships with his wife Katya Jones. In 2015, Neil and Katya were crowned World Professional Latin Showdance Champions. Neil was also previously the 8 times Dutch National Champion and won over 45 titles around the world during course of his competitive career. He trained in Ballroom, Latin, tap, modern and ballet and is also a successful choreographer. Neil has been a Strictly professional since 2016 and has partnered Judy Murray and Anita Rani in Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Specials.
Oti Mabuse began dancing in her home country of South Africa and is an eight-time South African Latin American Champion. She moved to Germany to further her dancing career and there achieved many titles including World European Latin semi-finalist and World Cup Championship semi-finalist. Oti became a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 and reached the final with Danny Mac in 2016. This year Oti became a dance captain on BBC One’s ‘The Greatest Dancer’, and successfully mentored the winning act.
Sarah James, Executive Producer, BBC Studios said: “We are delighted that this year’s line-up of professional dancers for Strictly Come Dancing is full of familiar faces and fan favourites. This amazing cast of incredibly talented world class professional dancers have provided Strictly with some of its most memorable moments over the years and with more exciting announcements to come, plus world renowned choreographer Jason Gilkison also returning to the team, Strictly 2019 promises to continue to wow viewers with unforgettable performances as we welcome this dazzling line up of pros back to the ballroom.”