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Giovanni Pernice was a 'tough' teacher says former Strictly star: 'Some people don't want to handle that'

American singer and TV personality Michelle Visage competed in series 17 of the hit dance competition

Giovanni Pernice posing in a dance studio
Megan Bull
TV Writer
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Giovanni Pernice's teaching style has sparked controversy following Amanda Abbington's exit from Strictly Come Dancing. The Italian star, who confesses to being "very, very strict" in rehearsals, was partnered with Amanda last year before she announced her sudden departure from the competition in October.

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice dancing the Viennese Waltz© BBC
Giovanni Pernice's teaching style has sparked controvery following Amanda Abbington's exit in October

Citing "personal reasons" that left her "unable to continue" after four weeks on Strictly, Amanda has since opened up about being diagnosed with PTSD. It's also been reported that the Sherlock actress – who is allegedly receiving legal advice – has requested video recordings of her training sessions with Giovanni. 

Amanda Abbington© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
The actress has allegedly requested footage from her rehearsals with Giovanni

And now in a new development, American singer and TV personality Michelle Visage is shining a light on her own experience, after partnering with Giovanni in 2019. During a recent appearance on This Morning, she said: "I don't like gossip, so I'm not here to gossip, but what I can say from my experience was yes, he's tough.

Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice cuddle up on the red carpet© Getty
In a new interview on This Morning, Michelle Visage revealed that Giovanni is "the toughest pro there is" and that they "fought every day"

"He's probably the toughest pro there is. I wanted that. So it depends, some people can handle that, some people don't want to handle that. I wanted that."

Admitting that she found herself clashing with Giovanni behind the scenes, Michelle added: "We fought every day, and it was for good reason because we got to where we wanted to be, we looked beautiful together."

While Michelle appreciated Giovanni's teaching style, the dancer – who joined Strictly in 2015 – has been described as a "perfectionist" who "can be incredibly full-on," according to reports stating that Amanda has requested her training footage.

Laura spoke about being unhappy on the show© Dave J Hogan
In 2018, Laura Whitmore explained that she was "extremely uncomfortable" dancing with the star

Among his previous dance partners, Laura Whitmore has also echoed this sentiment. Writing for the Huffington Post in 2018, she explained: "I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end, I felt broken, I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end."

Offering a counter-view of Giovanni's teaching style, Debbie McGee – another former partner – has shared that she and Giovanni "had the best of times on Strictly," as well as plenty of fond memories.  

Giovanni Pernice kissing Shirley Ballas on the cheek© Instagram
Shirley Ballas has come to Giovanni's defence

Additionally, Shirley Ballas has come to his defence, offering a public show of support while appearing on Lorraine. "I've known Giovanni for many years and he is an absolutely splendid teacher," she said in January. 

"My only ever experience with him is he is an absolute gentleman. He gives 100%. Strictly and shows like that, they are tough shows so you know when you sign up for that kind of thing. It's quite difficult to do the show."

MORE: Strictly stars who didn’t enjoy their time on the show

READ: Strictly's Motsi Mabuse reveals new move away from the show

The BBC has also released a statement, with a spokesperson stating that the corporation "offers a comprehensive range of support to all individuals taking part in our shows. 

"Strictly Come Dancing has always taken duty of care incredibly seriously and there is a constant dialogue between senior members of the production team and the contestants to ensure any concerns are addressed swiftly."

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