Strictly Come Dancing is undoubtedly the biggest show on television and over the years we’ve cheered on countless celebrities as they’ve shimmied their way across the dance floor. But the professionals who put them through their paces have also earned a well-deserved place in our hearts. All stars in their own right, many of us enjoy watching them every Saturday night just as much as their celeb partners.
Here, in an exclusive and glamorous photoshoot, we get to know some of them a little better. Luba Mushtuk, Graziano Di Prima, Karen Hauer and Giovanni Pernice give us an insight into the glittering world of Strictly and open up about their lives outside the rehearsal room…
‘MAURA LOVES ROSE’
GIOVANNI PERNICE 31 ON HIS UNIQUE CONNECTION WITH ROSE AYLING-ELLIS AND LIFE AT HOME WITH MAURA HIGGINS
Hi, Gio. You seem over the moon to be working with Rose…
It’s a privilege to be dancing with her. She’s such a lovely girl and she’s made me push myself even more and change the way I teach. We’re just constantly learning and finding our own way. We’ve reached a point where we don’t even need the interpreter any more. The more time we spend together, the better it gets.
It seems like you really tuned into Rose’s needs and how to teach her. How has the journey made you feel?
When I heard Rose was going to be on the show I really wanted her as my partner. She keeps saying she’s grateful to be dancing with me, but I’m the grateful one.
What do you do once rehearsals are over?
I go home and watch videos of us dancing to make sure everything is looking OK. I never really stop, but that’s the job. We have time to rest when the show is finished.
Has Maura been supportive throughout the process?
Maura’s been very supportive. She’s the one I go home to, there’s a dinner ready and I have someone to talk to. She loves Rose as well.
Does she watch you on the show?
Yes, she really enjoys it. She loved our performance on movie week and said she was really moved by it.
Michelle Visage and Ranvir Singh have both posted words of encouragement on social media. Do you stay in touch with your old dance partners?
Yes, all of them. We spend so much time together during the show it’d be weird not to speak to them after it’s finished. We’re all busy with our jobs so I haven’t met up with anyone, but we all keep in touch.
The pandemic has meant you haven’t been home for a while. Will you go back to Italy this year?
Of course – I have to! My nephew has just been born so I’m really looking forward to meeting him. As soon as the show finishes I want to go home and give my mum and dad a squeeze because I haven’t seen them for two years.
That’s Christmas sorted then…
Will you take Maura with you?
We don’t know yet. We’ll see how our schedules are looking because we’re both very busy.
What would it mean to you to win Strictly?
It’d be the cherry on top. I’ve been close so many times, so I’d love to lift the Glitterball at some point.
We’ve seen Anton Du Beke take his seat on the judging panel this year. Would you like to do the same some day?
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