THE PROFESSIONAL DANCE TROUPE
Introduced in series eight, the professional dance troupe was brought together with some of the dancers who had previously competed in Strictly Come Dancing along with some brand new faces. The troupe concentrate on choreographing and performing spectacular demonstration dances in the programme, allowing the competing professional dancers to dedicate their time to teaching their celebrity partners.
Ian has competed in the previous six series of Strictly, making it through to the final twice with Denise Lewis in series two and Zoe Ball in series three. His height makes his ballroom look beautifully elegant, and while it is often considered to be a disadvantage for latin dances, Ian's track record in professional competition proves that definitely isn't always the case. In previous series, Ian's professional dance partners have been Camilla Dallerup and Natalie Lowe, but he will be dancing with a new partner in the dance troupe, Aneta Piotrowska.
Like Ian, Darren has also been with Strictly since series two, winning in his first year with Jill Halfpenny where they also scored that first ever perfect score of 40. With his professional dance partner and wife, Lilia Kopylova (another former Strictly competitor), he has been a major talent in the world of latin dancing, winning British, European and World competitions. Darren will also be dancing with a new partner in the dance troupe, Crystal Main.
Tanya is a specialist ballroom and latin dancer, who originally trained in Australia where she competed in various competitions including winning the Amateur Open Ten Dance Championship. After moving to the UK, she has appeared in the West End, working as the featured dancer in Diry Dancing, as well as working in Cheek to Cheek at the London Coliseum. Tanya recently toured with Latin Fever, Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova's dazzling stage show. Tanya will partner Shem Jacobs in the Strictly dance troupe.
Crystal has been dancing since a very early age and as a junior ranked fifth in the World Open British Youth Ballroom Championship before becoming the UK Ballroom, Latin and Ten Dance champion. As well as teaching dance, Crystal has also appeared on stage in Simply Ballroom, where she was also Dance Captain and Principal Dancer. She's also toured in the US and worked in Las Vegas, including working with screen legend Debbie Reynolds. More recently, Crystal has worked with Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova in their stage show, Latin Fever, and she will partner Darren in the Strictly dance troupe.
Polish dancer Aneta competed as an amateur with Derek Hough (now a professional dancer based in the US who competes in the American version of Strictly) earlier in her career, and more recently has competed on the Polish version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars. Aneta will dance with Ian Waite in the Strictly dance troupe.
Shem is another Polish Dancing With The Stars competitor, and has also worked as a dancer with a variety of music performers including Kylie Minogue, Pixie Lott and Alexandra Burke as well as a backing dancer on The Royal Variety Performance for Duffy and The Pussycat Dolls. Shem's dancing partner for the Strictly dance troupe will be Tanya.