TV & Movies

Strictly Come Dancing 2022 Will Introduce Four New Professionals

And here’s how you can follow them on social media.

by Sophie McEvoy
'Strictly Come Dancing' professionals launching a new series
Getty Images/Christopher Furlong

The last thing Brits want to think about right now is autumn. Still, the BBC has given a little peek into what this year’s Strictly Come Dancing has to offer — including four new professional dancers. European cup winner Vito Coppola, Chinese National Carlos Gu, former Under 21 British National Champion Lauren Oakley, and Latin Dance champion Michelle Tsiakkas will be joining the “biggest professional dancer line-up in history” for the show’s 20th series.

Strictly’s latest additions follow the departures of some of the show’s most beloved pros, including Aljaz Skorjanec and Oti Mabuse, who both left in 2021. Both citing their decisions to leave as the hardest they’ve had to make, Skorjanec and Mabuse have gone on to pursue other projects. Skorjanec, married to former Strictly professional Janette Manrara, is retraining to be an actor, according to Hello!, while Mabuse presented the shortlived ITV dating show Romeo and Duet.

While the former pros may be focusing on their career outside of Strictly, fans will be delighted that Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Shirley Ballas are returning to judge this year’s contestants, alongside Anton Du Beke following his first stint on the panel in 2021. But, of course, it’ll be a while until the BBC announces which celebs they’ll be paired up with, so now is the perfect time to get to know the new Strictly 2022 pros and how to follow them.

Vito Coppola

Vito Coppola is a professional dancer from Italy, who previously starred in Ballando con le Stelle, the Italian version of Strictly. Coppola won the series with his partner Arisa, an Italian singer who he also dated. The 11-time Italian Latin American champion and 3-time World Championship finalist started dancing at the age of six and was winning national championships by 10.

Coppola left the competitive world in 2021 to pursue other opportunities, like appearing on the 2022 season of The Masked Singer in Italy, and now Strictly. “I am really excited to become part of this family,” Coppola told the BBC. “I cannot wait to start this new adventure and to challenge myself. Strictly, sto arrivando.” That translates to: Strictly, I am coming.”

You can follow Coppola on Instagram, where he has over 77.5k followers — the most out of the new 2022 professionals.

Carlos Gu

Chinese National Champion Carlos Gu is experienced in ballroom, ballet, and contemporary dance, and is a multiple award-winning semi-finalist. Originally from Taiyuan, China, and currently living in Shanghai, according to his Facebook, Gu studied dance at Tianjin University of Sport and the Beijing Dance Academy. He went on to place 3rd at the German Open Championship. He became Amateur Latin Rising Star Runner-up at the 2017 UK open.

Gu is sponsored by International Dance Shoes and is a member of their Elite Team. His routines are often highlighted by the company on social media. IDS also supply Strictly with their Ballroom and Latin American dance shoes. He’s raring to be a part of the Strictly team, describing it as a “new chapter” in his life as well as a “new challenge” to face. “I’m absolutely ready to take on this journey and to shine,” he told the BBC.

With over 3,500 followers on Instagram at the time of writing, Gu is guaranteed to see that number climb once Strictly fans become familiar with the new professional.

Lauren Oakley

Former Under 21 British National Champion Lauren Oakley started dancing at the age of two and quickly found interest in competitions. Born in Birmingham, Oakley was the Juvenile Champion at the Blackpool Dance Festival, winning across Ballroom and Latin disciplines. As she reached her twenties, Oakley embarked on a stage career and has since toured the world with Strictly professionals Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke in their national tours. Having grown up watching Strictly, Oakley has always hoped she could “be a part of the best show on television”.

Oakley is a member of the theatrical ballroom dance show Burn the Floor, where she’s also a dance captain and world touring dancer. She also teaches dance and fitness on the Burn Nation dance platform, per her LinkedIn. Oakley has previously worked for the BBC as a freelance dancer, assisting with the Strictly Experience Day for viewers of the show. She was also a dance teacher for four years in Solihull.

The performer currently has 15.1k followers on Instagram, which is sure to be boosted by her debut on Strictly later this year.

Michelle Tsiakkas

Latin dance champion Michelle Tsiakkas is originally from Cyprus, where she became an undefeated champion winning consecutive national titles between 2001 and 2011. Having started dancing when she was six years old, Tsiakkas’ passion for the art led her to study in the UK, where she went on to represent England at major international championships before joining the world tour of the ballroom dance show Burn the Floor. But for Tsiakkas, Strictly has always been her goal. “Being a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing has been my dream ever since I was a little girl,” she told the BBC. “I cannot believe my dream has come true!

In 2019, Tsiakkas returned from an eight-year break from professional dancing to study architecture and interior design. “As much as I loved it and the experience and the people I met along the way, my heart drew me back to dancing,” she wrote to her 8,100 followers on Instagram. “I knew I had to give it my all now while I still had the chance!” Tsiakkas is also a model, taking part in JD Sports “I Am JD” campaign in 2019.