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Pasha Kovalev leaves Strictly

Posted on February 14, 2019

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Strictly Come Dancing professional Pasha Kovalev has announced he is leaving the BBC show after “eight fantastic years”.

The much-loved Russian dancer announced his departure on Twitter on February 13, saying: “After scoring 93 perfects tens, reaching four finals and lifting one glitter ball, it’s time for me to find a new challenge and so I’ve decided to make last year my final season on Strictly.”

The BBC Strictly Twitter account also shared a statement, thanking Kovalev for his “amazing choreography and routines”.

“Pasha is an incredibly talented and dedicated dancer who is much loved by his Strictly family and viewers and will be hugely missed. Since joining the show in 2011, he has competed in eight series, made it to four finals and was crowned champion with Caroline Flack in 2014.”

Flack praised her former dancing partner on Instagram, captioning her photographs with the words: “You gave me some of the proudest moments of my life.”

Kovalev added: “Thanks to the incredible partners, professionals and myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is.

“The biggest thanks go to all the members of the public who’ve supported me so much over the years – I look forward to seeing you on the Strictly Pro Tour this spring, and for many future adventures to come.”

The 39-year-old dancer joined Strictly in 2011, and was a runner-up in his first year with actress Chelsee Healey. He also reached the final with Kimberley Walsh in 2012, Flack in 2014 and Ashley Roberts in 2018.

However, the Strictly relationship that made the most enduring impact on his life was his 2013 pairing with Countdown’s Rachel Riley, his real-life partner ever since.


Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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