We’re dusting off our dancing shoes to bring you the news that three new proffessional dancers are joining our Strictly ranks ready for when we return in the Autumn. Russian-born Dancing With The Stars favourite Gleb Savchenko, 2012 Italian Champion Giovanni Pernice and eight-times South African Latin American Champion Otlile Mabuse. Our three new faces complete our sparkling sixteen alongside Strictly favourites who are returning to the show.
The line-up in full:
Aljaž Škorjanec, Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, Giovanni Pernice, Gleb Savchenko, Kevin Clifton, Pasha Kovalev, Tristan MacManus
Aliona Vilani, Janette Manrara, Joanne Clifton, Karen Hauer, Kristina Rihanoff, Natalie Lowe, Ola Jordan, Otlile Mabuse
Lousie Rainbow, Executive Producer says: “We are thrilled with our pro-dancer line up this year. Not only are some of the viewers’ favourites returning but we also have some exciting new dancers joining the Strictly family. I think it’s safe to say that this year’s Strictly will be as exciting and entertaining as always.”
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Michael Pattie, 57, from Dumfries
Dance partner: Aliona Vilani
Michael lost his 13-year-old son, Dave, to meningitis. Michael has since raised more than £300,000 for charity, including the Meningitis Research Foundation, some of which has contributed towards the development of a ground-breaking meningitis B vaccine available on the NHS.
Michael said: “My motivation is a) to do all I can to stop other families going through what I have, and b) to make my son proud. That’s my drive. When something like what happened to me happens, you’ve got choices to make: you can fold and collapse and just not want to go on, or you can find a reason to turn it into something really positive and that’s what I decided to do.
“We started out own little mini-Strictly on a local basis as a fundraising thing. We got people in our community, like the headteacher of the local high school and the chief of police, talked them into being our celebs and teamed them up with dance partners. And of course everybody in the police force wants to come and see them dance, everyone in that school, and so it sold out.
“We’re now 10 years down the line and have 21 charities on board and they’ve shared roughly £300,000 now, all because of Strictly. So you ask me if I’m a Strictly fan? Big time.
“I can move, I’ve got rhythm, but it’s not necessarily in the right order. Because we’re asking people to go out of their comfort zone, my wife and I open the shows with a wee dance. I’ve dropped her twice, live on stage. It’s a great talent for a wife to have, to be able to bounce…”
The BBC have confirmed that Aliona will be one of the professional dancers taking part in The People’s Strictly for Comic Relief.
The four-part series, which will air on BBC One in the lead-up to Comic Relief 2015, follows the journey of these six extraordinary individuals as they embark on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They’ll take part in their own televised Strictly experience and will perform for the nation in the famous Strictly Come Dancing ballroom.
The public nominated deserving Strictly super-fans in their thousands. Each of the lucky six contestants was selected for their tireless and selfless work which has helped change so many lives for the better.
The contestants are:
Aliona will join Natalie Lowe, Janette Manrara, Aljaz Skorjanez, Ian Waite and Robin Windsor.
- Philip Barnett from Cornwall, who founded a children’s theatre charity in 1994 and has since raised over £2 million and staged over 70 shows.
- Trishna Bharadia from Buckinghamshire, who is living with MS and works hard to raise awareness around the condition.
- Anna Kennedy OBE from Middlesex, who set up the largest school for autism in the UK after her own autistic sons were turned away from mainstream education.
- Cassidy Little, originally from Canada but now lives in Peterborough. Cassidy was serving in Afghanistan as a medic for the Royal Marines when he was severely injured, losing the lower half of his leg in an explosion. His positivity has helped several of his colleagues through their time in rehab.
- Heather Parsons from Hampshire, who set up her own charity to support intensive care patients and their families, following her own near-death experience in intensive care.
- Michael Pattie from Dumfries, who has raised over £300,000 for meningitis charities, after losing his son to the disease.