Strictly Come Dancing's Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec opened their hearts about their fairytale marriage and baby plans in an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! The couple, who have just finished touring with the Strictly live arena shows and will star in their own theatre tour with dance show Remembering the Movies in the spring, took a break from their busy schedule to chat to the magazine during a romantic weekend at Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa in Bedfordshire, where the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh spent part of their honeymoon.
"Aljaz makes me smile, he makes me laugh, he makes me happy and he makes me feel like a princess," said Janette, 35. "I grew up in Miami and I've been to Disneyworld 42 times. On our wedding day I walked down the aisle to a song from Cinderella because I always say I found my Prince Charming."
Aljaz and Janette spoke exclusively to HELLO!
"Aljaz is the epitome of chivalry. He opens doors for me, he grabs my bags for me and he just really takes care of me. He’s a proper old-fashioned gentleman. I think chivalry can sometimes get lost these days and I love the romance of that – him treating me like a Disney princess." While their love story has had a happy ending, it didn’t get off to the best of starts. The couple met in 2010, when they were cast in the West End dance show Burn the Floor, and, while Aljaz was instantly smitten, Miami-born Janette wasn’t so sure. "I was the one that fell in love at first sight and I had to beg her to go out with me," Aljaz said. "As soon as we started spending time together it was obvious we were soulmates." Laughing, Janette added: "I remember the first time we went out with the cast of the show. Aljaz came up to me and said: 'I’m going to marry you some day.' I said: 'Okay, sure.' I was like: ‘He’s so handsome, so charming - he can’t be real.’ So I never really believed it. Then, when I gave him a chance and we went on our first date almost a year later, I never looked back." "She found out what she was missing," said Aljaz, with a grin.
Janette, 35, and Aljaz’s life means they are rarely apart, but they say they never tire of each other’s company. “We can spend a whole day together and talk for 24 hours and never run out of things to say,” said 28-year-old Aljaz. “We’ve had the most incredible adventures and everything has been done with love – even work. At the end of the day, we are husband and wife first. “Spending so much time together might not work for the majority of couples, but for us it works perfectly. We were great friends before we were in a relationship so it’s more of a plus than a minus to have all that time together.” Janette agreed: “When you have that friendship and open communication, it’s so much easier on us as a married couple. We can talk about anything and everything. “Sometimes I don’t know how to wind down and that’s when Aljaz is perfect because he’s very good at taking a step back and saying: ‘We don’t have to do that right now.’ We’re yin and yang.”
The couple are fresh from spending the festive period with Janette’s Cuban family in Miami, where they watched the Strictly Christmas special – which she won with partner Aston Merrygold – on a giant projector screen. Before that, Aljaz and Janette spent a few days in Slovenia meeting the latest addition to the family – baby niece Zala. “She’s beautiful, a little angel,”said the proud uncle. “I’m obsessed with kids, but little babies are so fragile and I’m not sure how to hold them. If someone had told me five years ago that my little sister was going to have a baby before me, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I feel everything comes at the right time when it’s supposed to come." "It’s never going to be the perfect time to have a baby but we do talk about it a lot and we are very much looking forward to becoming a mum and dad,” explained Janette. “It’s definitely going to happen – when, we don’t know. We’ll see. We’re kind of taking it slowly. “A dancer’s career can be quite short, especially when you reach a certain level, and work is going so good for us at the moment so that’s the priority,” she said. “We adore working on Strictly. It’s the best job in the world and the opportunities we’re given when we’re not on the show are incredible. “As with everything in life, you have it one minute and it’s gone the next so we have to grab it while we’ve got it.”
Alijaz and Janette have just finished the Strictly tour
The Strictly tour, which kicked off in Birmingham, has given the couple a chance to reunite with the rest of the cast away from the pressures of the TV competition. Janette is dancing once again with Dr Ranj Singh, while Aljaz has been paired with reigning champion Stacey Dooley: her professional partner on the TV show, Kevin Clifton, has other commitments. "The tour is an amazing celebration of the show," Aljaz said. "Strictly is such a focused time for all of us but on tour we get to spend every day with all the great friends we have." Janette added: "It’s awesome because every single night everyone goes out there and performs their favourite routines and then no one goes home. It’s such a nice way to close the Strictly chapter." Aljaz and Janette will be back on the road a couple of months later with their own show, Remembering the Movies, which tours the UK in the spring. Rehearsals begin as soon as the Strictly tour is over. The show is a celebration of big-screen musicals and the couple have collaborated with director Gareth Walker to create a variety of routines inspired by classic films, ranging from the golden age of Hollywood to The Greatest Showman.“Janette and I have been able to choose our favourite movie moments and it will be great to play around the country and meet all the people that love Strictly and support us,” Aljaz said.
In the five years they’ve been with Strictly, Janette and Aljaz have witnessed relationships begin and end, but they dismiss the idea of a Strictly curse, especially when it comes to their own marriage. "Not all relationships work out and that can happen in any situation, but because it’s such a big TV show it becomes a big deal," Janette said. "But there are some amazing relationships that have come out of Strictly and those should be talked about more. It’s an amazing experience, so fulfilling and rewarding, but there are also hours of sweating and stress. So your ideal partner is someone you really get along with - and sometimes they really get along. But for us, the job is a job. We dance together, but we also dance with other people. It’s the same as actors, who have to do very full-on scenes and then things can happen. For Aljaz and I, Strictly has been a blessing and has only made our relationship stronger." Remembering The Movies tours nationwide from 21st March – 9th May.
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