Strictly star says Giovanni Pernice's departure from BBC dancing show is 'massive blow'

Strictly Come Dancing's Kristina Rihanoff has raised her voice in support of Giovanni Pernice after news emerged about his cut from the roster for the popular BBC One dance series.

Former professional dancer and Strictly veteran, Kristina, hailed 33-year-old Giovanni as one of the show's top talents - both as a dancer and as a choreographer. She expressed her disappointment at his departure, opining that it would be a serious loss for the dance competition.

Earlier this week, the line-up of professional dancers for the 2024 season was revealed. Loyal fans were quick to spot Giovannis notable absence - now officially confirmed - he will not return for the shows 20th anniversary celebrations.

The Italian professional dancer made headlines throughout the 2023 series due to rumours of backstage squabbles with his then-celebrity partner, Amanda Abbington. He also had to fend off accusations of "threatening and abusive" behaviour.

In response to the swirling whispers, he said emphatically: "Of course, I reject any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and I look forward to clearing my name", reports the Mirror.

Speaking on Tuesday's episode of This Morning, concerning the recent changes to the Strictly ensemble and particularly Giovanni's ousting, Kristina, who graced the series between 2008 and 2015, expressed: "The news, I'm very saddened because I think when you lose one of the best choreographers and dancers on the show, as a professional dancer, I can say that it is very sad as he produced some very memorable dances and took quite a few of his celebrity partners through to the final. So from a professional point of view, I think the show will lose a wonderful dancer and choreographer."

Strictly Come Dancing's Kristina Rihanoff has spoken out about Giovanni Pernice's axe from the hit BBC One dance series
Strictly Come Dancing's Kristina Rihanoff has spoken out about Giovanni Pernice's axe from the hit BBC One dance series -Credit:ITV

Kristina has spoken out amidst the controversy surrounding Giovanni Pernice, stating: "I'm not here to defend or offend anyone, I'm just here to say what I know of Giovanni and my time with him on the show."

She expressed her disappointment about his absence from Strictly's upcoming big anniversary: "I think it is sad that someone like Giovanni isn't going to be there, I personally always looked forward to his choreography because that's what I appreciate. I think, like I said before, he produced some beautiful dances and it's always exciting to watch what he would choreograph. For me, personally, I think the whole situation is very sad."

Reflecting on her past experience working with Giovanni, Kristina remarked: "I think from the point of view when he worked on the show with me and we danced in some group numbers, he was always a very nice, easy going guy who was just there to do his job", and she added: "He was one who was very easy to work with for me, for what I know of him as a professional dancer."

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