Born to dance

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STRICTLY Come Dancing fans who’ve been missing their Saturday night fix of glitz and glamour will get the chance to see two of the stars of the show up close at Rainton Meadows Arena.

We caught up with Kristina Rihanoff who is heading to the region with dance partner Robin

Windsor.

As a child growing up in the harsh Arctic climate of Siberia, Kristina Rihanoff harboured dreams of setting the world alight through dance.

Today, she’s done just about that.

After moving to the U.S. in 2001 to pursue her dream job, Kristina went on to stack up a host of awards under her rhinestone-studded belt from first place in the South African National Latin Championships to second place in the Oscars of the ballroom dancing world: the World Exhibition British Final.

Her twinkle toes have taken her around the globe to diverse locations including Australia, Korea and Argentina.

However, she says it was her decision to take up a place on BBC 1’s huge hit Strictly Come Dancing which would prove the biggest turning point in her life.

The Russian bombshell, who joined the show for series six partnering journalist John Sergeant, explains: “It was the best decision of my life to move from the States to the UK to do the show.

“My friends thought I was mad, but I followed my heart and I’ve never regretted it. It’s been the most amazing experience of my life.

“I do my dream job and I met a life partner on the show.”

In between series, Kristina, who in 2009 partnered boxer Joe Calzaghe in the show (her now boyfriend), is feeding the public’s huge appetite for the show by touring the country.

On Sunday she will partner Robin Windsor at Rainton Meadows Arena. Robin, a specialist in Latin American dance, joined Strictly in the last series reaching week nine with actress Patsy Kensit.

He’s set to complement Kristina’s speciality of mambo when the pair perform a five-dance cabaret, comprising a fusion of Latin and ballroom numbers.

Both dancers will also be available after their show for autographs and photos with members of the audience, and there will also be an opportunity for amateur dancers to take to the floor and waltz the night away.

Kristina, who is the current Christmas Strictly Champion after winning the show with John Barrowman, said: “People can expect something very colourful with lots of music and lots of costumes.

“Everything you see on a Saturday night is what we try to bring to the dancefloor.

“It’s very theatrical with a lot of lifts and tricks. I would say the dancing is a fusion of Latin and ballroom. We have some traditional numbers, but we try to make them more interesting and exciting.”

The music the pair will dance to will range from traditional numbers to Michael Buble and Queen.

“It’s much more exciting to see it live,” explains the dancer.

“The audience can feed off the energy and power of the dance which you can’t get through the TV screen. You find people get really emotional when they see it live, but in a good way.

“For the Christmas show I danced with John Barrowman and it was amazing to be partners with someone of his calibre and talent.

“All my partners have been great in a different way, but if I had to pick one who stood out dance-wise it would be John.”

Since it began in 2004, Strictly has helped to breathe new life into the Latin and ballroom dance scene, attracting millions of new fans to the sport.

Kristina said: “I think the show proved that people can dance whatever their age, shape or size, John Sergeant proved that.

“Dancing is great fun, challenging and rewarding and the show opened people’s minds to that.”

Speaking about how her passion for ballroom was born, she said: “I started when I was six years old in Russia when I had dreams of being a ballerina.

“ I went to ballet school, but it didn’t capture my soul. My mum took me to ballroom school and I fell in love with the variety and rhythm and costumes.

“My specialism is Latin and I love different dances for different reasons.

“The most fun is salsa because you can do it socially and forget about technique, you can just let yourself go.”

l For tickets, £20, or more details, contact Michael on 07857 891733 or visit www.Ne1dancing.co.uk