Strictly Come Dancing 2021 professional dancers line-up: Meet the cast

Find out which professionals are taking to the Strictly dancefloor in a bid to add their name to the glitterball trophy, and meet the four new faces joining the show.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 18 September 2021 - 9.30pm
BBC The 2021 Strictly Come Dancing professionals

The Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers are the glue that holds the BBC One Saturday night hit together.

Bringing awe-inspiring footwork, a phwoar factor and an incredible talent for training up plodding amateurs, they are as important as the judges and celebrities in making Strictly a success.

Who are this year's Strictly couples? All the pairings revealed

In 2021 there are plenty of changes to the lineup of pros; Anton Du Beke switches from dancer to judge, Janette Manrara moves from the dancefloor to It Takes Two and four eye-catching new dancers have joined the cast.

As we prepare for an autumn of dazzling dancefloor delights, here is the full list of professional dancers taking part in Strictly 2021.

Meet the professionals

Kai Widdrington

Kai Widdrington, a new Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer for 2021 BBC

Celebrity partner: AJ Odudu

By the time he was 14, Kai was the World Junior Latin-American champion. As well as competing, Kai appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 aged 16 and made it to the final.

Kai has been a professional dancer on Dancing With The Stars in Ireland since its first series in 2017. He finished twice as runner-up on the show in 2018 and 2020.

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Nikita Kuzmin

Nikita Kuzmin, a new Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer for 2021 BBC

Celebrity partner: Tilly Ramsay - Eliminated in Week 10

Nikita was born in Ukraine and lived there until he was nine years old when his family moved to Italy to support his sister’s dancing career.

He started dancing aged four after initially wanting to do karate like his hero Jackie Chan.

During his nine years in Italy, Nikita became six-times Italian Champion in Latin and Ballroom.

In 2020 Nikita was a professional dancer on Let’s Dance, Germany’s version of Strictly Come Dancing.

Aljaz Skorjanec

Aljaz Skorjanec BBC

Celebrity partner: Sara Davies - Eliminated in Week 8

He represented his home country of Slovenia on the world ballroom stage for more than 10 years, and now Aljaz is enjoying a glittering career in Strictly.

Aljaz won the glitterball trophy in his first year, 2013, with Abbey Clancy, and in the more recent series partnered news reader Kate Silverton, socialite and TV personality Emma Weymouth, and radio DJ Clara Amfo.

He has been married to fellow Strictly pro Janette Manrara since 2017.

Giovanni Pernice

Giovanni Pernice BBC

Celebrity partner: Rose Ayling-Ellis

Sicilian dancer Giovanni may be the butt of some good-natured jokes from his co-stars, but there’s nothing to be laughed at when it comes to his Strictly achievements.

He has danced in five series of the show so far and has reached the final three times – with Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee, and most recently Faye Tozer, and just missed out on it in 2020 with Ranvir Singh.

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Gorka Marquez

Gorka Marquez SOPA Images

Celebrity partner: Katie McGlynn - Eliminated in week 3

Gorka began dancing at the age of 12 and has represented Spain across the globe in Latin championships.

He has been in the Strictly pros crew since 2016 and reached the final in 2017 with Alexandra Burke – the same year that he started dating another contestant, Gemma Atkinson, who he welcomed baby daughter Mia Louise with in July 2019.

Gorka reached the final with Maisie Smith in 2020, but can he seize the Glitterball Trophy in 2021?

Graziano Di Prima

Graziano di Prima SOPA Images

Celebrity partner: Judi Love - Eliminated in Week 6

In 2018, Graziano was the show’s much-touted new signing who even got his own introductory dance when the series began.

However, despite looking like a promising pair with Vick Hope, they were a shock elimination in the early weeks so we didn’t end up seeing too much of Graziano.

He didn’t get a celebrity partner in 2019 or in 2020, but reached Halloween Week with comedian Judi Love in 2021.

Johannes Radebe

Johannes Radebe BBC

Celebrity partner: John Whaite

Another new signing for 2018 was Johannes Radebe, who joined the pro troupe for group dances but didn’t have a celebrity partner on the show.

Johannes got his first partner in 2019, dazzling viewers with Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley, and left the 2020 contest much earlier than expected in a shock eviction with Caroline Quentin.

Johannes is no stranger to Glitterball glory, having reached the Final of Strictly Come Dancing South Africa twice.

Neil Jones

Neil Jones BBC

Celebrity partner: Nina Wadia - Eliminated in week 2

He’s been a part of the Strictly pros group since 2016 and has partnered celebrities in two Christmas specials, but it was only 2019 when he got first celebrity, footballer Alex Scott.

In 2020 he was back on the subs bench, but we'll have to wait to see whether he gets a celebrity partner in 2021.

Neil is the four-time undefeated British National Professional Champion and the three-time winner of the World Amateur Latin Championships with his now-estranged wife Katya Jones.

Amy Dowden

Amy Dowden BBC

Celebrity partner: Tom Fletcher - Eliminated in Week 9

Welsh dancer Amy grew up watching Strictly and in 2017 achieved her dream of being cast in the show.

She has been a British National Champion in ballroom and Latin, and her partners so far on the show have included Brian Conley and Danny John-Jules.

She reached the 2019 final with Karim Zeroual – can she go one better in 2021?

Dianne Buswell

Dianne Buswell BBC

Celebrity partner: Robert Webb - Withdrew after week 3 due to ill health

Australian Open Champion Dianne has toured the world with the dance company Burn the Floor, and was one of the pros on the Australian version of Strictly before she joined the UK show in 2017.

Dianne reached the final with social media star Joe Sugg in 2018 and the pair are now in a relationship.

Karen Hauer

Karen Hauer BBC

Celebrity partner: Greg Wise - Eliminated in Week 4

The longest-serving female pro on Strictly, Karen has been a popular dancer with the viewers and the contestants since she joined in 2012.

Her previous celebrity partners have included Jeremy Vine, Mark Wright, Chris Ramsey, and in 2020 she made it to the final with Jamie Laing who had returned after dropping out with an injury in 2019.

Venezuelan and New York-raised Karen has titles for United Amateur American Rhythm National Champion and Professional World Mambo Champion, and was a contestant on the US series So You Think You Can Dance.

Katya Jones

Katya Jones BBC

Celebrity partner: Adam Peaty - Eliminated in Week 7

Russian dancer Katya has won a clutch of trophies with her ex-husband and Strictly pro Neil – the World Amateur Latin Championships, the World Professional Latin Showdance Championships, and the British National Professional Championships four times.

She won Strictly with Joe McFadden and is famed for her Gangnam Style routine with Ed Balls, but will be hoping that everyone has now forgotten about 2018’s controversial partnership with comedian Seann Walsh after making Strictly history in 2020.

Katya became one half of the first-ever same-sex couple in the show alongside Olympic boxer Nicola Adams, although unfortunately they had to bow out early after Katya tested positive for coronavirus during the series.

Nadiya Bychkova

Nadiya Bychkova BBC

Celebrity partner: Dan Walker - Eliminated in Week 11

Nadiya has multiple titles as the Slovenian Ballroom and Latin Champion, is a two-time World Champion and a European Champion in ballroom and Latin.

Her Strictly partners have included Davood Ghadami and Lee Ryan, who was a surprise early elimination in the second public vote of the 2018 series.

Oti Mabuse

Oti Mabuse BBC

Celebrity partner: Ugo Monye - Eliminated in Week 5

Popular Strictly pro Oti Mabuse joined the UK show in 2015 and quickly reached the final in 2016 with celebrity partner Danny Mac.

She is an eight-time South African Latin American Champion in her home country and has previously starred in Let’s Dance, the German version of Strictly.

Viewers got to know Oti a little better when she featured as a judge and team captain in BBC One’s dance contest, The Greatest Dancer, and in 2021 she joined the judging panel for the first series of ITV's The Masked Dancer.

She won her first Strictly title in 2019, taking home the Glitterball trophy with Kelvin Fletcher, and is the current reigning champion after winning two years in a row as she danced to victory with Bill Bailey in 2020.

Oti has said that this will probably be her last series as a Strictly professional.

She told The Telegraph: "I love to dance and also I love bringing joy to so many people. But I think that will be the last one."

Can you remember all 18 winners of Strictly Come Dancing?

Nancy Xu 

Nancy Xu BBC

Celebrity partner: Rhys Stephenson

Nancy, from China, is a world-class Latin dancer who has competed all over the globe. Her accolades include a bronze at the National Amateur Latin Championships and being named runner-up at the International Singapore Championships.

The 28-year-old was a finalist in China's So You Think You Can Dance, and has featured in the West End and Broadway casts of Strictly-star-studded show Burn the Floor.

Jowita Przystal

Jowita Przystal, a new Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer for 2021 BBC

New for 2021, 26-year-old Jowita started ballroom dancing at the age of 12 and is a Polish Open Latin Champion.

In 2015 she joined the cast of touring dance company Burn The Floor, where she stayed for four years before moving to the UK in 2019.

Under the mentorship of Strictly Champion, Oti Mabuse, she won the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer in 2020, and the prize of performing on Strictly Come Dancing.

 Jowita is a backing dancer in Strictly 2021, appearing in the group routines

Cameron Lombard

Cameron Lombard, a new Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer for 2021 BBC

Reigning South African Latin Champion Cameron Lombard, 20, has won 18 national titles across Ballroom and Latin during his dance career.

He started competing aged six, and within a year he was already winning local and regional competitions.

In 2012 he was a finalist on South Africa’s Got Talent and in 2019 he represented South Africa at the World Championships.

Cameron is a backing dancer in Strictly 2021, appearing in the group routines

Luba Mushtuk

Luba Mushtuk BBC

Luba may only have been cast as one of the pro dancers in 2018, but she has been a part of the Strictly family for years as an assistant choreographer.

Her titles include being the four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship, and winning the Italian Open Latin Show Dance. She’s also worked extensively with Broadway and West End show Burn the Floor.

In 2019 she was paired up with her first celebrity student, hoping to take Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell OBE to dancing victory. But they didn't make it past the first public vote, bowing out in Week Two.

Luba fared slightly better with Jason Bell in 2020 as the second couple to be voted out.

Luba is a backing dancer in Strictly 2021, appearing in the group routines

Watch the couples dance live for the first time when Strictly Come Dancing returns at 7pm on Saturday September 25 on BBC One