Strictly Come Dancing star Aliona Vilani has swapped her Glitterball trophies for an even bigger prize – her first child, HELLO! can reveal. The dancer – who has won the hit BBC show twice – and husband Vincent Kavanagh posed for an exclusive photoshoot and interview with HELLO! where they reveal all the details about their daughter Bella, who arrived on June 10. "I feel so lucky," she says of Bella. "We genuinely feel so blessed and happy. We got lucky. She's very chilled. Vincent is, too – as am I when I'm not working. They say a baby is often more calm if the parents are, too."
Aliona and Vincent welcomed their baby daughter in 2017
Aliona also tells HELLO! that one of the first people she told about Bella's arrival was her former Strictly contestant Anita Dobson, who first introduced Aliona to Vincent, and her husband Brian May – as well as her most recent dancing partner, Jay McGuiness. "They are such close friends of ours, we have sent pictures. No one else really knows yet, apart from Jay. A couple of weeks after Bella was born Jay messaged me asking if the 'little one' had arrived, so we sent him a couple of pictures." Speaking about giving birth, she said: "Actually, I didn't cry and nor did Vincent. It was just this overwhelming feeling of happiness. As we held her we started to laugh and thought how incredible it all was. "Since then I have cried many times while looking at her as she is so gorgeous. Yes, happy tears, about once a day."
Speaking about choosing her beautiful name Aliona said: "I know some people want it to be a surprise but the way I think about it, it is as much a surprise at 20 weeks as it is when you give birth. Just an earlier surprise. When we found out we were having a little girl, we cried. We loved Bella and my mum's name is Ella, so we thought, 'That's a nice sentiment.' Vincent is Irish, and if we'd had a boy I'd have loved to have named him Vincent." Speaking about her husband, who is a sales director for a private jet company, she said he is "the sweetest man I've ever met", adding: "It's amazing how we agree on everything, including the details about parenting, which makes it much more enjoyable and easier… Vin has danced with her from day one. And he's a natural singer, as many Irish are. She loves it. She looks up at him and stares as he sings to her."
Aliona's daughter Bella was born in June
Aliona admitted that she wouldn't want her daughter to become a professional dancer like her, saying: "I would like her to know how to dance, to be able to dance, but only casually. I would prefer her not to have dance as her career. In dance so much depends on other people's perspective and opinion, whereas in other sport it is different. If you swim and you are first, then you are first, there are no ifs or buts. Obviously if she wants to be a dancer then that is fine, but it would not be my number one choice for her. No – which is fine with me. If it's a tennis racket or golf club, I'd prefer that."
Aliona's celebrity dance partner Jay was one of the first people she told
She also talks how they moved from London to Florida just three months before Bella was born. "It has been life-changing for us on so many levels… We had not just a nursery to set up but a whole house,"laughs Aliona. "Our plan was to move first, then start a family, but it happened so quickly as within two months of trying I was pregnant. The last time I could fly was the beginning of March so I spent the final three months of my pregnancy setting up home here."Speaking about leaving behind Strictly for motherhood, Aliona said: "It turned out to be the best possible ending to my Strictly career. To be the only person to win twice is incredible. I had already decided it would be my last Strictly as Vin and I wanted to start a family. Then, when Jay and I won, it couldn't have been any better. It seemed the right time. I had an amazing seven years on the show."She revealed that she isn't missing the show, adding: "I absolutely love dancing; it has been my life and it has given me everything I have ever wanted, but at the moment I am so happy with Bella and family that I am not missing dancing, physically or mentally. That may change, but at the moment I am just so happy, taking in every second of our family life."
To read more of the interview with Aliona, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! magazine out on Monday.