Aliona Vilani: “It was definitely not my decision and choice to leave Strictly Come Dancing”

Professional dancers Flavia Cacace, Erin Boag and Vincent Simone will not be returning either when the series comes back later this year

Four of Strictly Come Dancing’s most high-profile professional dancers are to leave their full-time roles as partners to the stars on the BBC1 entertainment show.


Erin Boag, Aliona Vilani, Vincent Simone and last year’s winner Flavia Cacace will not be returning to the glitter and glitz of the Strictly ballroom when the series starts again later this year. But while Boag, Simone and Cacace have released statements confirming that they are leaving the prime-time competition to pursue other projects, Vilani has taken to Twitter to tell followers the move was “definitely not my decision.”

The 29 year old is yet to make an official statement but said on her Twitter page: “I feel I should make it clear that I haven’t left, it was definitely not my decision and choice to leave Strictly, lets see what happens…

She later added: “To those of you who are asking “WHY?” I’m leaving Strictly and asking me to stay and come back. I’ll just repeat…it’s not up to me guys!..”

Vilani won the show alongside McFly’s Harry Judd in 2009 and came second the year before with Matt Baker. She will be replaced by Iveta Lukosiute who covered for her after she was injured during the last series.

Flavia Cacace, whose previous dancing partners include Russell Grant and her now fiance Jimi Mistry, took home the Strictly glitterball last year alongside Olympian Louis Smith. Both she and Simone, who are professional dancing partners away from the Saturday night show, have been members of the Strictly cast for seven series. Simone also made it to the final of last year’s competition, dancing with Tracy Beaker actress Dani Harmer.

In an official statement, Cacace said: “After an incredible and unforgettable 2012 on Strictly Come Dancing for both Vincent and I, we have decided we won’t be partnering a celebrity on this year’s show. However we look forward to continuing to perform on our favourite show and remain a part of the family including partnering a celebrity in the Christmas Special.”

On the duo’s website, the pair outline what their post-Strictly futures might look like, saying: “Vincent would like to be involved in the promotion of fast racy looking cars, and Flavia been involved recently in the promotion of fitness products and would like to do very much more of that. Compering and hosting events is another aspect which Flavia very much enjoys, and having hosted several fashion shows, she would like to work with a fashion house to promote a VincentandFlavia Collection of fashion clothing.”

Long-serving Strictly dancer Erin Boag, who last year partnered Richard Arnold, has decided to call time on the show, too. Alongside Anton Du Beke and Brendan Cole, the 38-year-old dancer has been with Strictly since it first kicked off in 2004.

Speaking about her departure, Boag said: “It’s been a very hard decision to make, but it’s time for a change and to focus my attention on new challenges… I’m certainly not hanging up my dancing shoes and retiring from the ballroom… far from it! I’m going to be doing more television work, choreography and teaching.”

Boag, Cacace and Simone will be replaced by Burn The Floor performers Emma Slater, Aljaž Skorjanec and Janette Manrara.


Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 later this year.