The stars of Strictly Come Dancing are preparing to hit the ballroom once again as the first night of the 2022 UK tour kicks off on Thursday.
Newly-single pro Nadiya Bychkova got her groove on in a silver sequin mini-dress with fringe detailing amid her recent split from fiancé Matija Škarabot as she shimmied across the dancefloor at the official live arena tour photocall at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham on Thursday.
The blonde dancer, 32, looked as though she was having a ball as she pulled out all the stops after leaning on her Strictly family and former celebrity partner, BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, 44, for support in the wake of her romantic troubles.
Golden girls: Glamorous Nadiya was joined at the photocall by a host of her Strictly co-stars, including Tilly Ramsay from the 2021 series and Maisie Smith from 2020, who dazzled in skimpy silver dresses as they posed for snaps
Glamorous Nadiya was joined at the photocall by a host of her fellow Strictly professionals and their celebrity partners, including Tilly Ramsay from the 2021 series and Maisie Smith from 2020, who dazzled in skimpy silver dresses as they posed for snaps.
The full tour line-up – including winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice and runners up John Whaite and Johannes Radebe – came together for a group shot as they prepared to hit the dancefloor once again.
All eyes have been on Nadiya this week, with the dancer distracting herself from her recent breakup by immersing herself in intense rehearsals for the show’s live tour this week.
On Wednesday as it was revealed her partner on the 2021 series, BBC journalist Dan Walker, has become a ‘pillar of strength and support’ for her during the split.
Team sheet: Back row L-R Luba Mushtuk, Aljaz Skorjanec, Sara Davies, John Whaite, Johannes Radebe; second row Neil Jones, Giovanni Pernice, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Tilly Ramsay, Amy Dowden, Cameron Lombard, Nadiya Bychkova, unnamed dancer; front row Jowita Przystał, Katya Jones, Max George, Janette Manrara, Rhys Stephenson, Nancy Xu, Kai Widdrington, Maisie Smith
Here come the girls! (top row, L-R) Nancy Xu, Luba Mushtuk, Sara Davies, Tilly Ramsay and Nadiya Bychkova, (bottom row L-R) Katya Jones, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Maisie Smith, Janette Manrara, Amy Dowden and Jowita Przystał
Champions: 2021 winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice made history last month after Rose became the first deaf contestant to win the BBC series
Talented: The EastEnders actress, 27, and the professional dancer, 31, looked as though they were having a blast as they prepared to hit the stage together once again when the UK tour kicks off on Thursday night
The dancer is single after ending her engagement to Slovenian footballer Matija Škarabot, 33, the father of her five-year-old daughter, as exclusively revealed by MailOnline last week.
Matija no longer follows Nadiya on Instagram, while Nadiya has not posted about him for seven months.
Sources close to the stunning dancer revealed that she has been confiding in BBC Breakfast presenter Dan after accepting the fact that her long-distance relationship with Matija was no longer working.
One source told MailOnline: ‘Dan and Nadiya have such a great bond and he has been a pillar of strength and support for her following the breakup with Matija.
Historic: Bake Off star John Whaite and his professional partner Johannes Radebe made history during the 2021 series as Strictly’s first ever same-sex male pairing
Talented twosome: The pair finished the series in second place behind Rose and Giovanni after a nail-biting final
Hostess with the mostest: Janette Manrara will be hosting the tour and got playful as she posed at the photocall with Max George, Rhys Stephenson and John Whaite
Pucker up, baby: Janette planted a kiss on her husband, Strictly professional Aljaz Skorjanec, as they cosied up on the dancefloor at the event
‘The bond between them started during Strictly, leaving the cast and crew surprised at how close they became. They were literally inseparable and got on so well and this has continued even now the series is over.’
Another source added: ‘Dan supported Nadiya with everything, including her breakup, which only made their partnership stronger.
‘He even grew close to her mother and daughter, who really enjoyed watching them dance together on Strictly.
‘Dan and Nadiya enjoy a deep and special bond, which has really helped her to get on with her new life following the split.’
They’re back! 2020 contestants Maisie Smith (L) and Max George (R) have returned to the dancefloor for the arena tour and will be dancing with Kai Widdrington and Katya Jones respectively
Sizzling: Max and Katya appeared to have built up some sizzling chemistry during their time in rehearsals
Getting into the spirit of things: Rhys Stephenson and his professional partner Nancy Xu looked as though they were having a ball as they pulled out their best moves at the photocall
Earlier this week, Strictly winners Rose and Giovanni got sentimental as they larked around backstage during dress rehearsals for the show’s forthcoming tour.
The EastEnders actress, 27, and the professional dancer, 31, looked as though they were having a blast as they prepared to hit the stage together once again when the UK tour kicks off on Thursday night.
Giovanni said to Rose: ‘It’s nice to dance with you again.’
To which she replied: ‘Yeah, it’s lovely to dance again and it brings back happy memories.’
Brave face: All eyes have been on Nadiya this week, with the dancer distracting herself from her recent breakup by immersing herself in intense rehearsals for the show’s live tour this week
Newly-single: On Wednesday as it was revealed Nadiya’s partner on the 2021 series, BBC journalist Dan Walker, has become a ‘pillar of strength and support’ for her during the split (pictured with a tour dancer)
The ballroom champion then jokingly scolded the soap star and told her to ‘go and practise’.
Rose, who made history last month after becoming the first deaf contestant to win the BBC series, shared another clip as she danced to Beyonce’s All The Single Ladies with pro dancer Luba Mushtuk.
Other dance couples on the bill from the 2021 show include Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, and Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu.
The Wanted’s Max George, who was a contestant in 2020, will join the tour with Katya Jones – after originally being partnered with Dianne Buswell during his time on the series.
She’s flying! Nancy Xu performed a complicated lift at the photocall with her fellow professionals
Leggy ladies: Professional dancers, Nancy, Nadiya, Luba and Katya performed in a group medley
Teamwork: The professionals were back to their best as they prepared to delight audiences with routines
Maisie stepped in as a replacement for ‘devastated’ AJ Odudu, who was forced to pull out of the Strictly Come Dancing live tour due to her ongoing foot injury.
The TV presenter, 33, had to withdraw from the BBC One show’s grand final in December after suffering ligament damage to her ankle during training with her professional partner Kai Widdrington.
AJ said she was ‘gutted’ to not have the opportunity to dance with Kai, 26, again, after the pair’s sizzling chemistry delighted viewers during their time on the show.
In an official statement, she explained: ‘I’m devastated not to be able to take part in the Strictly tour due to injury. I had hoped for one last dance with Kai, but I must obviously follow the medical advice.
‘I wish my Strictly family the very best of luck on the road and I’ll definitely be there to cheer them on.’
Girl power! Tilly, the daughter of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana, looked happy and confident as she posed with co-star pal Maisie at the event
Not long to go: Maisie, Sara, Rose and Tilly are no doubt ready for their big night in front of a live audience
Former EastEnders star Maisie is no stranger to the dance floor, finishing as runner-up in 2020.
Strictly’s professional dancers Amy Dowden, Neil Jones, Luba Mushtuk and Jowita Przystal will also be performing with the couples in over 33 sequin-spangled shows.
Janette Manrara will be hosting the tour after the star took over from Zoe Ball as host of It Takes Two this year.
The tour will be choregraphed and directed by Craig Revel Horwood and promises audiences an evening of glamour and excitement.
Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli, will also feature on the tour’s judging line-up, which kicks off on January 20 and runs until Feburary 12 with a glittering finale at London’s O2 Arena.
Boogie nights: Dragons’ Den star Sara performed her best moves with her professional partner Aljaz Skorjanec
Ready for their big night: The tour will be choregraphed and directed by Craig Revel Horwood and promises audiences an evening of glamour and excitement
The live show marks Bruno’s much-anticipated return to Strictly after he missed this series due to travel restriction uncertainty in the US, where he’s based.
Bruno was replaced by Anton Du Beke on this year’s series while he remained stateside to continue with Dancing With The Stars.
Of his return to the show, Bruno told MailOnline: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be back on the judging panel for the Strictly Arena Tour for the first time in two years.
‘I’ve missed my fellow judges, I’ve missed the glitz and glamour of the tour and I’ve missed the amazing audiences that come to see us all over the country – I hope you have missed me too?
‘I cannot wait to be back alongside Shirley, Craig, the celebs and the pros. The fans are really in for a treat – next year’s arena tour is going to be simply fantastic.’
Glitz and glamour: Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli, will also feature on the tour’s judging line-up, which kicks off on January 20 and runs until Feburary 12 with a glittering finale at London’s O2 Arena
Big step: It was recently announced that a sign language interpreter will be present at every performance of the upcoming tour, with the event proclaimed ‘the biggest ever BSL accessible arena tour’ in the UK.
Dazzling duo: The Wanted star Max, who was a contestant in 2020, will join the tour with Katya Jones – after originally being partnered with Dianne Buswell during his time on the series
It was recently announced that a sign language interpreter will be present at every performance of the upcoming tour.
This year’s upcoming event has been proclaimed ‘the biggest ever BSL accessible arena tour’ in the UK.
A video was shared on the Strictly Come Dancing Live Instagram account on Monday where a sign language interpreter announced the news.
A statement alongside the video read: ‘We are delighted to announce that a registered BSL Interpreter will be provided for every venue and performance of the tour, making this the biggest ever BSL accessible arena tour in the UK.’
The interpreter will be displayed on two very large screens either side of the stage area so attendees can book tickets and sit almost anywhere in the arena to enjoy the experience with family and friends.
Kicking back: Maisie, Tilly and Sara enjoyed a well-earned rest and catch-up after the photocall