New Strictly Come Dancing pros open up on show curse and why they can’t wait to waltz onto our TVs
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The celebrities have been revealed, the Glitterball has been given a thorough polish and the countdown to the start of the 2021 season of Strictly Come Dancing has officially begun.
While millions of fans across the country await the return of telly’s most popular series, there are four people who are even more excited than the rest of us. They are the fab-u-lous new additions to the professional line-up – The Greatest Dancer champion Jowita Przystal, 27, former professional on the Irish version of Dancing With The Stars Kai Widdrington, 26, six-time Latin and ballroom national champion Nikita Kuzmin, 23, and the reigning South African Latin champion Cameron Lombard, 20.
As they prepare for their first series as professional dancers, they join OK! for an exclusive photoshoot and chat. Here, they reveal what it’s like to land one of TV’s most sought-after jobs, how the other pros have welcomed them and why they’re not bothered by the show’s famous curse…
Congratulations, guys! How does it feel to be joining Strictly Come Dancing?
Jowita: It’s just so amazing. It was my biggest dream to be on the show. Just to get that phone call from the production, I said, “That’s my new birthday day.” If you ask anybody from ballroom dancing, they will say they would love to be on Strictly because it’s the best show.
Nikita: Oh, it feels amazing. Everybody has been so welcoming.
Cameron: It’s out of this world. Each day it’s getting more real as time goes on. I’m super excited.
Kai: I remember watching the very first season back in 2004. It’s how my parents introduced me to dance. So I feel like I’ve come full circle by now being a professional on the show.
Did you all have to audition for the show?
Jowita: It’s more that you need your profile and your dancing career to be strong. They need to see something in you. I believe my Greatest Dancer win and then the performance on Strictly helped me a lot because otherwise they wouldn’t even know I exist.
Kai: Strictly have a radar around the world where they know pretty much everybody and they knew who I was. I’d been in the UK touring a few times and they’d come and see the show when I used to work with Brendan Cole or Giovanni.
Cameron: It was unexpected – I was certainly caught off guard. They said, “A spot is available. Would you like it?” Of course – it’s one of the biggest TV shows in the world!
Nikita: I received an email one day. I didn’t expect that at all. I was extremely happy, obviously, when I got the email saying they wanted me on the show. Then we had a Zoom call and they offered it to me.
Have the other professionals welcomed you all to the family?
Jowita: I know almost all of them because the world of ballroom dancing is not as big as people think, so our paths cross many times. They’ve all sent me messages. Oti, from the moment we met on The Greatest Dancer to now, we’re like best friends because we have the same vibe – we’re strong women, we love to work hard. She’s my queen.
Nikita: I’ve known Oti for a while. She was the first person to get in touch to congratulate me. But they’ve all contacted me – they are just so human, so nice.
Cameron: Oti and Johannes – I know them. I’ve been watching them since I was a baby because at the time I started, they were on top of the game already, so I was always looking up to them. I feel like we’re going to be the South African triple threat on Strictly.
Kai: I’ve been on the show before, so last year I danced with Amy. We did a tribute to Dame Vera Lynn for the Remembrance Week professional number, which was really, really nice. Johannes used to be my roommate for six months when we worked on Burn The Floor. Luba I’ve known for years. Neil I’ve known for 10 years. Katya too. So I’ve known a lot of them for a very long time.
Kai, you live with Giovanni Pernice. What’s he like as a housemate?
I feel like if we got paid for the number of hours that we play on the PlayStation, I think we’d be very rich. And we like to watch TV. It’s not as exciting as it maybe seems on Instagram half the time because usually we’re just lying down playing Fortnite or FIFA.
What about the judges – have any of you crossed paths with any of them before?
Nikita: Motsi has been training me for the last five years. She’s one of my main inspirations since I started having lessons with her. She’s always been saying to me that you have to say what you want out loud so everybody can hear it – and then you go for it.
Cameron: I had a workshop with her at a very young age. I feel like she remembers it as well as I do. So I feel like she’s going to hold it against me if I do anything which is not part of what she’s taught me.
What qualities do you each intend to bring to the show?
Jowita: I’m a little pocket rocket! If anybody watched The Greatest Dancer they will know I love to do some crazy lifts and
tricks, so I want to do even more on the show. I just can’t wait – who’s going to dare do it with me? Hopefully I find somebody,
Cameron: I’m very versatile. I’m able to do many dance styles – contemporary, Latin, ballroom, hip-hop, you name it. So definitely versatility and some new flavour, some coolness, something that hasn’t quite been on the show before.
Nikita: I hope to bring a lot of brightness, a lot of new energy, a lot of freshness, a lot of Latin playfulness. The way I see it, I would love to just bring a breath of fresh air.
Kai: Just a bit of English banter! I’m quite easy-going. I’m a bit of a joker, everyone knows me and I’ll try to make them laugh
by doing something silly. And, of course, good quality dancing – I hope that’s what I can bring as well.
Kai, there are rumours you might be paired with John Whaite in the show’s first all-male couple…
I’d love to do it. I’ve done it before in Ireland with Brian Dowling, which was a really big moment, especially for Irish TV. So I was very, very excited to hear that it’s happening in the UK for a full season. The whole point of it is that two people can dance together and it doesn’t matter if they’re man-man, girl-girl, boy-girl, whatever – it doesn’t matter.
Everyone always talks about the Strictly curse. Is that something any of you are worried about?
Nikita: My girlfriend Nicole’s been extremely supportive since the beginning, just helping me and motivating me. I’ve moved over here from Germany for the show and it’s actually the longest we’ve been apart since we got together. I believe 100% that we are professionals. We are here to do our job and all the Strictly curse talk, maybe it’s not a nice way to say it, but it’s a nonsense to me.
Jowita: I’ve heard about it, but I’m a non-believer. Michael [Danilczuk, her boyfriend, who is also a professional dancer] speaks my language, dancing language, so he understands. I’m so blessed to have him here with me and to have that support.
Apparently it’s already struck you, Kai?
I’m a single, that’s it. That’s all that you need to know. I’ve been single for 10 months, so there’s no Strictly curse surrounding me, that’s for sure.
Are you ready for the fame that comes with being on the biggest entertainment show in Britain?
Nikita: Well, honestly, I love to be in the spotlight – I think it’s the nature of a performer. If you don’t admit it, you’re not telling the truth!
Jowita: I don’t know if anybody’s prepared for that because you don’t expect it. I think all of us, we’re still like, “We are just dancers.” So for us, it’s surprising that actually it’s that big. I’m living my dream. I just can’t wait to actually get out there.
Cameron: With everything that has happened leading up to this moment, I feel like I’m ready for it.
Kai: I think it’s what comes with the job. But ultimately, my job is to teach dancing and that’s all I’m focusing on. Obviously, there is other stuff that comes with it, but I’m there to do my job and I’m doing it with the best in the business. I don’t think fame is something I’ve ever wanted. I always wanted to dance – that’s always been my thing.
Have you already had amorous fans sliding into your DMs?
Nikita: This stuff is happening, but it doesn’t really bother me. Nicole is not a jealous type. We know we’re there for one another and that’s it.
Cameron: Definitely! I’ve had a few people sliding into my DMs. I’m just like, “This is getting a bit crazy!” But my head is firmly on my shoulders.
Kai: Absolutely not. Hey, I’m a Strictly professional now, come on!
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