Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Aljaž Škorjanec has announced that he will be leaving the show after nine years.
The Strictly Come Dancing star, who began dancing at the age of five, posted a touching tribute on Instagram earlier this morning, saying: “On a beautiful sunny day in May 2013 one phone call changed my life forever!
"It went like this... We would like to offer you a position on @bbcstrictly as a professional dancer. A dream became a reality and it was the biggest opportunity for a 23 year old boy from Slovenia. It didn’t matter how many beautiful ballrooms I performed in during my competitive career, stepping onto the sacred Strictly floor was the most nervous I had ever been.
"A little while ago I made the tough decision that Strictly 2021 would be my last. The show has given me an opportunity and freedom to create and express myself in front of millions of people every weekend for the last 9 years.”
Aljaž has won 19 Slovenian championships in Ballroom and Latin and represented Slovenia at a world level after decades of competing. But, despite making the sad decision to leave the BBC dancing competition, he is grateful for the inspirational time he had on the show.
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“Being a part of a group of professionals that inspire and push you to be better every step of the way is humbling and I will carry that inspiration with me forever. Every year the lineup of dancers would change but one thing stayed the same, WE WERE THE BEST! And this is one thing that I know will never change on Strictly!” he revealed.
The Slovenian dancing sensation has been a fan-favourite during his time on the show and has been partnered with celebrities such as Alison Hammond, Helen George, Gemma Atkinson and in the most recent series, Sara Davies. He also won the 2013 series with model Abbey Clancy.
In the emotional post, he went on to shower the Strictly team and his partners with praise.
He said: “Strictly also has the BEST backstage team - the hair and make-up team, costume department, lighting, sound, props and special effects, camera operators… THANK YOU! My beautiful partners.. It's hard to put into words how many beautiful memories we have had. I LOVE YOU ALL!
"To my bucka.. from picking songs, creating stories and choreographing steps we always did it as a team. Your talent and selflessness knows no bounds. We got to perform with Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, BBC Symphony Orchestra.. moments I will keep in my heart forever. I LOVE YOU!
"And finally, thank YOU, the people that watch Strictly who have been so kind to me all these years. Every comment, vote, kind message never went unnoticed. You are the reason we all do it, thank you! I have lots of exciting stuff planned that I will fill you in on soon. I can't wait to see what the future holds! KEEEEEP DANCING!”
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Sarah James, Executive Producer of Strictly Come Dancing commented: “We are so sad to be saying goodbye to Aljaž after almost a decade as a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing. Since lifting the glitterball with Abbey Clancy in his debut series he has become a firm favourite with viewers across the country.
“During his nine series he has provided us with some unforgettable moments on the show through his incredible choreography, passion for dance and heart of gold. He will be missed by his Strictly family, both on and off the dancefloor, and we wish him only the very best as he embarks on his next chapter.”
Strictly Come Dancing will return later this year. Previous episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
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Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides, recaps and features for must-watch shows and delivers all the latest soap news and reactions. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film and TV grow stronger.
You'll usually find her watching the drama unfold in the latest reality series or much-loved UK soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). She's an expert in EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and everything reality-related from Selling Sunset and Married At First Sight UK to 90 Day Fiancé UK. Plus Netflix megahit Virgin River!
Grace also likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series.