The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Strictly dancer Katya Jones says it’s worth spending time on yourself
- Katya Jones, who lives in London, has been on Strictly Come Dancing since 2016
- The 32-year-old says her parents inspired her to work hard and invest in herself
- During lockdown she learnt Spanish and Lithuanian, while also reading more
Katya Jones, 32, the Russian professional dancer has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing since 2016. She lives in London and is single, since separating from her husband Neil Jones, a fellow Strictly pro-dancer, in 2019.
Growing up in St Petersburg, we lived in a three-bedroom communal flat with three other families — so my mum, dad, brother and I shared one room. It was small, but we were happy.
My parents taught us to be careful with money, so I’ve always saved: I didn’t like to spend a lot. If I needed more cash, I’d pick things like lettuce and coriander from my mum’s garden then sell them back to her! We still laugh about this. She says she found it fascinating.
Katya Jones, 32, (pictured) who lives in London, reveals her parents inspired her to work hard and invest in herself
My parents worked hard to give us a better life and encouraged us to prioritise our education. When they realised I had a talent for dance, they did everything to help me become a professional dancer, despite the expense. Lessons can cost £200 and dresses up to £4,000, so Mum would make them for me.
She was one of those dedicated, busy mums. I don’t remember her having any time off. She’d work as an estate agent in the day, then drive me to dancing, come home to make dinner, pick me up, sew my dresses, take my brother to clubs, and travel to contests with me.
My mum and dad inspired me to work hard and invest in myself — not just with cash, but time. I still only buy what I need — I didn’t even own a TV till 2020!
I also completed a one-year pledge, ending in July 2020, not to buy any clothes. Now I buy only necessary items and often opt for second-hand.
In lockdown, I was living on my own and finally had time to pick up new skills — and learnt Spanish and Lithuanian. I also played the piano and read more. And I connected with new people with projects such as the National Numeracy Challenge, with mathematician Bobby Seagull, which I hope will inspire others to invest in their education, too.
I’ve also been teaching my mum, 57, to dance over Zoom. I hope my parents are proud of me. They’ve taught me that we’re all permanent students in this life: as long as you live, you learn.
Katya is an ambassador for the National Numeracy charity, nationalnumeracy.org.uk