Why did Aliona Vilani leave Strictly Come Dancing?

The Strictly professional exited the show after winning the last series with The Wanted singer Jay McGuiness

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Strictly superfans were shocked to the core last Christmas when, just days after claiming her second Glitterball trophy with Jay McGuiness, Aliona Vilani announced she was leaving the show.

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After coaching celebrities for six series, between 2009 and 2015, Aliona took to her Twitter account to reveal news of her departure, telling fans she had decided before series 13 had started that she would not be back the following year.

Fans of Strictly had just voted her partnership with The Wanted singer McGuiness into first place, ahead of fellow finalists Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice, Kellie Bright and Kevin Clifton and Katie Derham and Anton du Beke, as the pair captivated fans with their final paso doble.

Aliona’s win put her ahead of her fellow Strictly professionals as she claimed her second Glitterball trophy, becoming the first dancer to do so thanks to her 2011 victory with McFly drummer Harry Judd.

During her six series on the show, Aliona also competed with Matt Baker, Rav Wilding, Tony Jacklin and Gregg Wallace, only missing the 2012 series through injury.

At the time she announced her departure, it was rumoured that she was quitting to start a family with husband Vincent Kavanagh. “Aliona loves children and is ready to have a family,” a ‘source’ told The Sun. “As much as she loves Strictly she doesn’t want to put her plans for a baby on hold any more. They are going to start trying right away.”

Aliona was not the only professional dancer to quit the show at the end of the last series. Gleb Savchenko, Kristina Rihanoff, Ola Jordan and Tristan McManus also departed, replaced by newcomers Gorka Marquez, Katya Jones, Oksana Platero, Neil Jones, Chloe Hewitt and AJ Pritchard.


Find out more about the new Strictly professionals here


But there is some good news for fans of Jay and Aliona – the pair have been back in the rehearsal studio to prepare for a new touring live show Keep Dancing, joined by fellow Strictly alumni Lisa Riley, Louis Smith and Chelsee Healey.

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Strictly Come Dancing returns with a double bill, on Friday 23rd September at 9pm and Saturday 24th September at 6:30pm, both on BBC1