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'Strictly's' Kristina Rihanoff on her toughest challenge yet

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Strictly Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff is used to tough working schedules, but she tells HELLO! Online that training for new West End show Burn the Floor is even more demanding than the BBC1 dance competition. "It's very intense, just physically and mentally demanding, she says. "We've been working eight-nine hours every day."

The hard work is paying off. "Some of the things you’ll see, you won't believe your eyes," she says. "I'm really enjoying it." Her boyfriend, former boxing champion Joe Calzaghe, will be sitting proudly in the audience on the opening night. 

Kristina is appearing in the spectacular Latin and ballroom dance show at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, along with fellow Strictly Come Dancing professionals Robin Windsor and Karen Hauer. They are joined by 15 award-winning dancers from around the world. "The guys on this show are outstanding," says Kristina

The Russian-born dancer has been a part of Strictly since 2008 but decided not to do the show's national tour for the first time this year. "I just wanted time to be with my family and loved ones," says Kristina, whose previous dance partners have included James Bond star Colin Salmon, singer Jason Donovan, and TV presenter John Sergeant. "I wanted to be with Joe and see my mum, who came over to visit. I also went to the States to see my best friend. "It was just time for me to reconnect with the people that I value in my life and to find the balance," she says. "Now I'm really hungry for the dancing again."

Kristina predicts that “all generations” will love Burn the Floor, a show that has dazzled audiences in more than 40 countries since it was launched in 1999. She says, “It’s a high-energy show and an outstanding level of dancing."

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