Strictly Come Dancing | The Female Professionals
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…!