TV & Movies

Strictly Has Announced Its 2021 Pro Dancers

Expect some fan favourites plus one professional joining the competition for the first time.

'Strictly Come Dancing' professionals

Autumn could not come sooner for fans of the BBC’s flagship dancing show, and now the BBC has announced Strictly 2021’s professional dancers, anticipation is reaching fever pitch. Get ready to get your groove on, because it’s looking exciting.

Although we are not yet sure of the season’s release date, which celebrities or judges will take part this year, or what social distancing measures will be in place for in terms of a live audience, the professional line-up is already bursting with talent. Among fan favourites such as Oti Mabuse and Gorka Marquez, fans will be excited to see the return of Anton du Beke, who swapped the dance floor for the judging panel for a short time last season.

The coronavirus and the seemingly endless lockdown restrictions have certainly been tough this year, but the BBC is determined to keeeeep dancing. Strictly producer Sarah James said that she is “thrilled” for the return of the contestants. “Their passion and dedication for Strictly shone through more than ever last year as they all sacrificed so much to deliver an unforgettable series during unprecedented and challenging times.”

She added: “With so much talent returning to the ballroom, the 2021 series promises more show-stopping choreography, memorable performances and world-class dancing.”

So, who are these talents?

Oti Mabuse

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The eight-time South African Latin American champion is the only dancer in the history of Strictly to have won two consecutive series. Oti Mabuse joined Strictly in 2015, and won the much-coveted mirrorball trophy with actor Kevin Fletcher in 2019 and comedian Bill Bailey in 2020.

Anton du Beke

Anton du Beke is the only professional to have participated in every season of Strictly Come Dancing and has previously danced with former Labour MP and former home secretary Jacqui Smith. In 2019, du Beke reached the semi-final alongside partner Emma Barton, which was the second time he achieved this milestone. Last season, du Beke spent two weeks in November on the show’s judging panel, replacing regular judge Motsi Mabuse, who was stuck in quarantine.

Aljaž Škorjanec

Aljaž Škorjanec joined Strictly in 2013, where, alongside Liverpudlian model and presenter Abbey Clancy, he won the glitterball trophy. He has been dancing since he was five years old, and represented Slovenia in world championships for over a decade.

Gorka Marquez

Gorka Marquez has been with Strictly since 2016 and entered two rounds of finals, once in 2017, with singer Alexandra Burke, and in 2020, with actor Maisie Smith. Marquez has been dancing since he was 12.

Amy Dowden

The Welsh dancer has been grooving since the age of 8. She is the first dancer from Wales to take part in Strictly and has previously partnered with CBBC’s Karim Zeroual and TV presenter JJ Chalmers. She joined Strictly in 2017.

Dianne Buswell

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Before joining Strictly in 2017, Dianne Buswell participated in the Australian version of the show. In her second series, she reached the final with Joe Sugg, of social media fame, who is now her real-life partner. She’s also an Australian Open Champion.

Giovanni Pernice

Giovanni Pernice has impressively made the Strictly final three times, with Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee, and Faye Tozer in 2015, 2017, and 2018, respectively. Even more impressively, in 2017, he smashed the Guinness World Record for Most Charleston swivel steps in 30 seconds on BBC Two’s It Takes Two. He joined Strictly show in 2016.

Graziano di Parma

Another Sicilian, Graziano di Prima joined Strictly in 2018, where he partnered Vick Hope, radio presenter and host of Capital FMs Capital Breakfast show. He’s represented Belgium internationally and, in 2021, will tour with ballroom ensemble Burn the Floor.

Janette Manrara

Janette Manrara began her Strictly journey in 2013. She has performed on stage with Jennifer Lopez and was a principal dancer in hit TV series Glee. Her partners have included Eastenders’ Jake Wood, singer Peter Andre, and NHS doctor Ranj Singh.

Nadiya Bychkova

Nadiya Bychkova, who hails from Ukraine, is a two-time World Champion. In her first year with Strictly in 2017, she made it to the quarter finals with actor Davood Ghadami. Other previous partners include singer-songwriter Lee Ryan and footballer David James.

Johannes Radebe

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Two-time Professional South African Latin Champion, Johannes Radebe joined the Strictly family in 2018. He’s partnered actresses Catherine Tyldesley and Caroline Quentin in 2019 and 2020 respectively. On the South African version of the show, he’s reached the final twice.

Nancy Xu

Nancy Xu joined Strictly in 2019. She was previously a finalist in the Under 21 World Championships in 2010 and participated in So You Think You Can Dance China. This will be the first year Xu is paired with a celebrity to take part in the competition.

Katya Jones

Katya Jones began her Strictly career in 2016. Last season, she was one half of Strictly’s first same-sex pairing, alongside Olympic boxer Nicola Adams. She won the Strictly championship in 2017, with actor Joe McFadden. Other notable partners include former politician and former Chancellor Ed Balls.

Neil Jones

Neil Jones has been a Strictly professional since 2016. In 2019, he partnered footballer Alex Scott.

Luba Mushtuk

Prior to becoming a professional on the show, Luba Mushtuk participated in Strictly as an assistant choreographer. Her partners include athlete James Cracknell and American football player Jason Bell.

Karen Hauer

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The former dance partner of presenter Jeremy Vine and TV personalities like Mark Wright and Jaime Laing, Karen Hauer moved to New York at eight to pursue dancing. This year will be her tenth on Strictlyin the show’s history, she is the longest-serving female professional dancer.