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Pasha Kovalev on the 'Strictly' curse and Rachel Riley's marriage split

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Pasha Kovalev has shared his thoughts on the 'curse of Strictly', and why he thinks the show has caused the end of so many relationships. The dancer found himself at the centre of speculation when Countdown presenter Rachel Riley split from her husband a month after appearing on the show as his partner.

Insisting that his relationship with Rachel was "entirely professional", Pasha has said BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing is often the "final push" for people who are already unhappy with their love lives.

"We cannot look inside someone's relationship and we don't know everything, but most of the time if a relationship breaks up it is not because of Strictly, it is because people were unhappy with their life before Strictly," the 34-year-old told the Daily Mail.

"Dancing gives you a more joyful enjoyment of yourself and you see that you're achieving something and you see you're not done as a person in this life. 

"Then suddenly they find there are more joyful things to do. It can be a final push towards realising that if something is not working in your life at this moment, there is plenty of time for you to fix it." 

Rachel, 28, announced she had separated from husband Jamie Gilbert in November, one month after she was voted off the show. She is one of a number of stars who have seen their romances comes to an end, including Susanna Reid, Denise Van Outen and Natasha Kaplinsky.

Pasha conceded that spending weeks in close physical contact with attractive dance partners can put a strain on relationships. "Dancing is always between a man and a woman. I've heard of lots of cases where a wife is jealous of her husband because he is dancing with a beautiful skimpy-dressed girl," he said. 

"There is plenty of that. Usually partners understand, and the decision to go on Strictly is not just made by one person. But there are cases where it happens." 

"You see relationships develop," he added. "Like Flavia Cacace who ended up getting married to Jimi (Mistry), and Kristina (Rihanoff) spending a couple of years with Joe Calzaghe, and Artem (Chigvintsev) with Kara Tointon.

"Things like that happen if people are single and open to relationships. Why not? People in an office do the same thing I guess." On Friday, Pasha will begin a three-month tour of Britain with former Strictly star Katya Virshilas. 

The "spectacular" event will see the pair demonstrate a series of dance routines accompanied by a full audio-visual backdrop and light show, a spokesperson confirmed. "Don't miss this great production for any Strictly fan, complete with the opportunity to get involved and dance on-stage with the stars!"

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