Kristina Rihanoff is not leaving Strictly Come Dancing, according to reports.
The professional dancer’s future on the BBC show is safe, in spite of rumours of a romance with rugby star Ben Cohen, whom she partnered in the 2013 series.
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff (Rui Vieira/PA)
A show insider told the Sun: “There has never been a question over Kristina’s future. She is 100 per cent confirmed to return this year.
“The first and foremost thing in our minds when we are casting our pro dancers is how good they are, and Kristina is a brilliant dancer.”
The Russian-born dancer joined Strictly in 2008, and her previous celebrity partners include John Sergeant, Joe Calzaghe, Goldie, Jason Donovan and Colin Salmon.
Last year she was close to steering Blue’s Simon Webbe to victory, with the pair coming second to Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev.
Kristina herself opened up to the Mail On Sunday about the recent rumours linking her with Ben, after he was seen leaving her home.
The dancer said: “We are both single people. We enjoy each other’s company. We work together.
Kristina Rihanoff and Ben Cohen (Kieron McCarron/BBC)
“Who knows what the future will hold. I do not owe it to the whole country to speak about my private life because it’s just that, private.”
Kristina, who previously had relationships with former Strictly partner Joe Calzaghe and professional dancer Vincent Simone, who she did not know had a pregnant girlfriend at the time, went on that she was tired of being judged.
She said: “I am a normal human being, maybe I have not always done the right thing. I make mistakes, but I do not have to be crucified for them. My past should be allowed to be my past.
Kristina and Ben grew close as dancing partners (Rui Vieira/PA)
“People say I don’t care about criticism but I do, I do care, it makes me cry for days, for weeks. Those who know me closely tease me and say I should trademark the Siberian Siren tag and create a perfume or a lingerie line, but I don’t want to because it’s not me.
“It’s like I’ve been drawn as a man-eater and now I am not allowed to be anything other than that, the single girl who is to blame for other couples’ problems. Why do people point the finger at the woman and never the man? Recently, during the show, Susanna Reid and Rachel Riley’s relationships fell apart and they were the targets, portrayed in the worst possible way.”
She fumed: “If you are a little bit successful, a little bit strong, then you are torn to shreds. It is always the woman who gets the blame. There are double standards at work even now in 2015 when we should be beyond that.
Kristina and Ben have stayed friends (Guy Levy/BBC)
“A woman will be called all the names under the sun, a guy gets, ‘Oh, he’s just a man being a man’. It would be nice to be treated equally.
“I have borrowed Kate Moss’s policy of ‘never complain, never explain’, but after seven years of abuse I feel I have to say something in my own defence. I long for my work as a dancer and a choreographer to speak for itself, but instead this scrutiny of my private life means my hopes have all come undone.”
The 13th series of Strictly Come Dancing will return to UK screens later this year.
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