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How Pasha Kovalev broke news about his Strictly departure to fellow pros

Pasha was on the show for eight years

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Pasha Kovalev shocked fans when he announced his decision to quit Strictly Come Dancing last month, after eight years on the show. And it sounds like Pasha's statement came as a surprise to his fellow pro dancers, too. In an exclusive chat with HELLO!, Neil and Katya Jones have revealed how their Strictly co-star broke the news. "None of us expected Pasha's announcement at all," said Katya. "It came as a shock to us. We all just went, 'Really?!' We didn't expect it at all but whatever he decides to do, we're always going to support him like anyone else."

Her husband Neil elaborated: "He said to us, 'Guys, this is my last year.' We have a nice group chat so all of us were like, 'What do you mean? You're joking!' And he was like, 'No.'"

Katya and Neil revealed that Pasha told the pro dancers on their group chat

"It's a shame," Neil added. "We're going to miss Pasha." "We're definitely going to miss Pasha, my Russian pal," said Katya, who hails from Saint Petersburg. "He's such a gent. We had good banter together."

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It's not quite goodbye yet though, as Pasha, 39, is due to take part in the Strictly pro dancers tour. Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals kicks off in May, with 35 dates scheduled around the UK. Pasha will be joined on tour by Neil and Katya, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Oti Mabuse, Karen Clifton, Nadiya Bychkova and Gorka Marquez. "We're still going to be with him on the pro tour, so that's great. That's our last time together on the pro tour. It's going to be fun," said Neil.

Behind the scenes with Neil and Katya Jones:

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While Neil and Katya have the Strictly tour to look forward to, they are also focusing their energy on their joint show, Somnium: A Dancer's Dream. Choregraphed and directed by Neil, the show is based on the married couple's real-life love story and their journey into becoming World Latin Showdance Champions. "I had always wanted to create my own show," said Neil, 36. "Now, finally to see our dreams on stage come true is exciting." Katya added: "I even get to wear the same dress again, the one I wore on the evening of our wedding."

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