Strictly Come Dancing professional Pasha Kovalev has confirmed he is leaving the beloved dance show after eight years. On Wednesday morning, the official Twitter page for the BBC series read: "Sadly after eight incredible series, the brilliant @PashaKovalev has decided to leave #Strictly. Pasha, from all of us, thank you for your amazing choreography and routines over the years. You'll be sorely missed!" In another tweet, they added: "We'd like to say a HUGE thank you to @PashaKovalev for being part of the #Strictly family for 8 wonderful series - you will be missed."
Pasha Kovalev with latest Strictly dancer partner Ashley Roberts
Shortly after the news was announced, Pasha - who joined the show back in 2011 - released his own statement, which read: "After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching 4 finals lifting 1 glitter ball, it's time for me to find a new challenge and so I've decided to make last year - my final season on Strictly." He added: "I've had five fantastic years, full of wonderful memories, thanks to the incredible partners, professionals and myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is. The biggest thanks go to all the members of the public who've supported me so much over the years - I look forward to seeing you on the Strictly Pro-Tour this spring, and for many future adventures to come!"
Karen Clifton was one of the first to react to the news, saying: "Gonna miss you so much @PashaKovalev an all around gentleman and a fantastic dancer to work with. Love you buddy." [sic] Kevin Clifton remarked: "@bbcstrictly is going to miss you @PashaKovalev. Congrats on your hugely successful run on the show. More 10's than anyone! Thanks for your constant calm and kindness within the group. Good luck with whatever your next adventure is mate."
The pro dancer found love this Rachel Riley after meeting on Strictly
Pasha, who is in a relationship with Countdown star Rachel Riley, was recently partnered up with Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts in the latest series. He previously lifted the Glitterball trophy with Caroline Flack in 2014, and has also come in second position with Kimberley Walsh and Chelsee Healey. Love Island's Caroline was also quick to post on Instagram: "SO Sad to hear the news that Pasha is leaving Strictly. A total gentleman..... You gave me some of the proudest moments of my life.... #champs #glitterball."
Meanwhile, it's not all bad news for Pasha fans as the pro dancer is set to appear on the The Greatest Dancer this weekend. His publicist confirmed to HELLO!: "He is appearing on BBC1 The Greatest Dancer on Saturday night with the Strictly pros and then a well deserved break before The Strictly Pro Tour starts in the Spring. He has had an incredible time on Strictly but it’s time for new challenges - watch this Space!"
In September, the professional dancer revealed that he will be taking a break from his own tour after seven years to pursue a new adventure - he will take part in the Strictly Come Dancing professionals tour. The TV star tweeted at the time: "An announcement to everyone asking about my tour for 2019 - thank you for all your continued support, but after seven fantastic years I've decided to have a break next summer to try something new. I've loved dancing for and with you & can’t wait to entertain you on Strictly 2018!"
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