Strictly Come Dancing: Greatest Dancer winner joins professional dancer line-up
image copyrightTomasz Reindl
A winning performer on BBC One’s The Greatest Dancer is to join Strictly Come Dancing’s professional line-up.
Poland’s Jowita Przystal, who won 2020’s series of The Greatest Dancer with partner Michael Danilczuk, is one of four new additions to the team.
Ukraine’s Nikita Kuzmin, South Africa’s Cameron Lombard and Kai Widdrington from the UK have also been recruited.
The announcement comes after Anton Du Beke and Janette Manrara left the pro dancer line-up to take on other roles.
Du Beke is to replace Bruno Tonioli on the judging panel for the next series of Strictly, having briefly filled in for Motsi Mabuse in 2020.
Manrara, meanwhile, is replacing Zoe Ball as the host of Strictly’s spin-off show Strictly: It Takes Two.
Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe and Neil Jones will return to complete the male contingent of professionals.
They will be joined by their returning female counterparts Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu and Oti Mabuse.
image copyrightBBC/Thames/Syco/Tom Dymond
Mabuse will be familiar with Przystal, having been a celebrity dance captain on The Greatest Dancer before it was axed last year after its second series.
Przystal described joining Strictly as her “biggest dream come true”, adding: “I’m still pinching myself to check if this is real.
“I am beyond excited to be joining the Strictly Come Dancing family and I can’t wait to give all of my heart and soul on that dance floor.”
The 26-year-old started ballroom dancing at the age of 12 and is an Open Latin Champion in her native country.
She joined the cast of touring dance company Burn the Floor in 2015 before moving to the UK in 2019.
image copyrightNikita Kuzmin
Nikita Kuzmin was born in Ukraine but moved to Italy at the age of nine. Over the next nine years he became a six-time Italian champion in Latin and Ballroom.
Last year the 23-year-old, who began dancing at four, was a professional dancer on Let’s Dance, the German version of Strictly Come Dancing.
“I’ve always been amazed by the magic Strictly Come Dancing brings,” he said. “No matter what country I have found myself living in, I’ve never missed a chance to watch it.
“Joining it as a professional dancer is my big chance to make some magic on the most famous dance floor. I can’t wait to give it my all.”
image copyrightBBC/Jack Barnes
Cameron Lombard is another early starter, having begun competing in his native South Africa at the age of six.
The 20-year-old is the reigning South African Latin champion and was a finalist on South Africa’s Got Talent in 2012.
Lombard said joining Strictly was both a “life-changing opportunity and “a challenge” to be accepted “with both hands”.
“I am excited beyond imagination and looking forward to leaving my mark on the dance floor,” he continued.
image copyrightKai Widdrington
Kai Widdrington took up dancing at the age of nine and was World Junior Latin-American champion by the time he was 14.
Now 25, he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 and has been a professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars in Ireland since 2017.
“To be a professional dancer on the show is the most amazing feeling and the biggest accomplishment of my career,” he said.
“I can’t wait to step onto the Strictly floor and experience the exciting times that lie ahead.”
Strictly Come Dancing will return for its 19th series this autumn.
Comedian Bill Bailey was crowned the winner of the 2020 series alongside partner Oti Mabuse, who also won the 2019 series with actor Kelvin Fletcher.