Kristina Rihanoff Kristina Rihanoff


Career Highlights/CV

Kristina's journey began in the unforgiving, arctic climate of Far East region of Russia. Her father was a musician and composer and as a result her home was always surrounded with music. Kristina fell in love with music and dance from an early age. As a child, Kristina used her ballet training to hone the skills that would one day make her a ballroom champion. She studied both Latin and Standard styles, but it was the Latin harmonies and movements that truly stirred her passion. From 16 years of age, Kristina was already teaching dance, an occupation that combined her fondness for children and the hobby that was quickly becoming a destined profession for the young star. This lifelong love affair with dance since the age of 6 guided her through scores of competitions as a youngster and she ultimately became a renowned dance champion in Russia's Far-Eastern region and to audiences all over the World.

Kristina never ignored the importance of higher education, and by the age of 21, she had obtained a Master's degree in Tourism and Hospitality. It was then that she was invited to the United States of America to compete professionally. She moved to Seattle, Washington in 2001 and dedicated all of her time to professional dance competitions. She learned several new styles of dance in the U.S. including salsa, American rhythm, and exhibition/theatre style. She was so successful that she and her partner won second place at the American Rhythm Finals for three years in a row. They travelled around North America and abroad to perform and compete around the world. A few years later in 2004, Kristina and her partner were invited to represent the U.S. in the most prestigious competition in the professional dance world, the World Exhibition at the Blackpool Dance Festival, where the couple placed second in the theatre-style category. Kristina then returned to International-style Latin with a new partner, one of Latin dance's most famous ballroom masters Michael Wentink. Their partnership saw them promptly win the South African Championship and they were also semi-finalists at the 2007 Blackpool competition in the Latin American division. Kristina has won numerous prestigious awards:

  • 2nd Place, U.S. National American Rhythm Finals, 2003, 2004, and 2005.

  • American Rhythm RS National Champions 2004.

  • 2nd Place, Open to the World, Mambo Championship, 2003 and 2004.

  • 2nd Place, Open to the World, American Rhythm Finals, 2005.

  • 1st Place, South African National Latin Champions, 2006.

  • 2nd Place, World Exhibition British Final, (Blackpool) 2004.

  • Semifinalist- top 12 couples in the Open to the World, British Open (Blackpool), 2007.

After many impressive achievements Kristina retired from competitive dance, and joined the US hit TV series 'Dancing with the Stars' winter tour in 2007/2008. It was less than a year later that her increasing popularity and the public's admiration for her dance brought her to London to join the hugely popular British show 'Strictly Come Dancing'. It was on this stage that the UK became exposed to Kristina's exceptional choreography through her carefully composed dances for the Professionals, and her own solo pieces. In her first season she was partnered with the well respected Political Broadcaster John Sergeant. It was at this time she won the hearts of the British Public impressing viewers with her fearless dance prowess, and professional routines. Only a few months later she joined other fellow professional dancers and celebrities to tour the UK in the sold out live tour of Strictly Come Dancing. This was to be the beginning of a busy year for Kristina, as she went on to choreograph for the BBC3 show ‘ Dancing on Wheels’, alongside her then Professional partner Brian Fortuna. For the first time in her career, Kristina adapted her choreography for Wheel chair dance in the hope to promote the sport in Britain, later describing it as an ‘Inspirational and humbling experience’. In the autumn of 2009 Kristina was on prime time television again to take her place in the new series line up. Kristina went on doing very successful 8 years on Strictly Come Dancing!!

During 2009 she was unveiled as the Celebrity Ambassador for the St Tropez Perfect legs tanning, and was the first female dancer on the show to be offered a commercial endorsement. Throughout these busy periods Kristina also found time to support the Breast cancer campaign by modelling the Pink Vest in 2009, which aims to raise money during the October cancer awareness month.

2010 was another whirlwind year for Kristina. She took part in her second Strictly Come Dancing live tour, at the start of the year. She later went on an extensive tour of the UK with her professional partner Brian Fortuna, performing their showcase to sell out theatres across the country. Shortly after, Kristina embarked on yet another sold out tour alongside 7 other world class dancers, from the smash hit TV series Strictly Come Dancing. This sensational show, ‘The Professionals Tour’, was the first of its kind, concentrating on the flawless routines of the dancers, with not a judge or celebrity in sight. Kristina became a popular face in the press and media. From modelling campaigns and interviews in magazines like Closer, OK! and Hello, she features regularly in the health and make up columns. Kristina was also the only professional dancer to have her own column in Best magazine called “Strictly secrets “for 5 years. In 2015 she became a celebrity blogger for Hello magazine for the "Strictly Come Dancing” column.

In 2010, Kristina was partnered with the popular and entertaining DJ Goldie. Unfortunately, Kristina and Goldie were knocked out of the competition in the first eviction stage. This early departure was quickly forgotten as later on in the year Kristina went on to lift the glitter ball with the star of stage and screen John Barrowman, for the Christmas special. Their impressive quick step captivated millions of viewers across the country during the festive period. Throughout the latter part of 2010 Kristina appeared in a number of TV shows and was a guest at numerous high profile events away from the Strictly arena to include the Hairy Bikers cook off, Mastermind, Five Live, The Alan Titchmarsh Show, British Fashion Awards, Pride of Britain, Beauty & the Beast HD launch to name just a few.

It was during this time that Kristina also choreographed a National Aviva commercial inspired by Ballroom dancing staring Paul Whitehouse which aired for many years on national TV and National BT commercial with Kris Marshal.

Kristina began 2011 by touring with Strictly Come Dancing where she partnered series 8 contestant Jimi Mistry. Series 9 of SCD later that year was Kristina's best yet as she joined a childhood idol and star of stage and screen Jason Donovan. They topped the leader board early on, dazzling the judges with their routines and Kristina's choreography was at its best and which saw them reach the live final in Blackpool. They finished 3rd overall losing out to Mcfly's Harry Judd who was crowned the champion. Their partnership continued to their fan's delight as in early 2012 they joined the live tour where they lifted the glitter ball on more than once occasion.

In 2012 after the Live Tour came to an end, Kristina had a number of shows with Robin Windsor before embarking on the first tour of its kind, Dance To The Music alongside fellow Strictly professional Artem Chigvintsev and series 8 champion Kara Tointon. Dave Arch and the rest of the Strictly Come Dancing band joined them on the tour where they entertained sold out theatres all over the UK. During these many dance commitments Kristina has found time to be the face and ambassador of Panache sports bra to raise money for Cancer Research.

In fall of 2012 Krstina joined an British actor Colin Salmon for her 5th series of Strictly Come Dancing. It was a challenging partnership as Colin was 6.4’ tall and petit Kristina had to work her magic to come up with cleaver choreography for them. They were eliminated week 5 of the competition.

2013 saw a dream come true for Kristina, as she joined the cast of World reknowned show Burn The Floor on London's West End at Shaftesbury theatre. Kristina and her professional partner Robin Windsor joined the show for 3 months, wowing audiences along the way.

After headlining on West End Kristina joined the new series of Strictly Come Dancing and was partnered with rugby star Ben Cohen MBE who suffers with 50% hearing loss. Despite Ben’s hearing challenges Kristina was able to turn the complete novice into a ballroom dancer, where they stayed until 3 weeks prior to the final. They later toured together for the 2014 Strictly Come Dancing live tour, impressing audiences with their routines which saw them lift the Glitter Ball on one occasion.

Later in 2014 Kristina made her 2nd Strictly Come Dancing Final when she was partnered with Blue singer Simon Webbe. Simon was praised throughout the series for his improvement, and after surviving a few dances offs in the series they sailed through to the final 3. Shortly after, they toured together and wowed people across the UK, which secured them the majority vote and the overall winners of the 2015 Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour!

In 2015 Kristina was asked to return to SCD once again and was partnered with the incredibly famous Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell. Daniel was a total novice but managed to survive 5 weeks of the show due to Kristina's cleverly tailored choreography.

In October 2015, Kristina released her autobiography “Dancing out of darkness' which was named number 1 among dance books of that year.

In January 2016, Kristina was offered to go into the Big Brother House. Kristina became a housemate in the 17th series of Celebrity Big Brother. She was in the Big Brother house for 2 weeks and where she put her skills into use by organising a dance class for her housemates as tasks and also by choreographing a dance for the Talent show task.

After Big Brother Kristina has decided to start a family with her life partner Ben Cohen and became a mother in to her daughter Milena in June 2016.

In December 2016, Kristina returned to the Westend stage at Adelphi Theatre with professional ex Strictly pro/ current Dancing with the stars pro Gleb Savchenko with their show 'One more dance'.

It was Kristina’s lifelong dream to create a dance production of her own. In January 2018, her dream was realised. She directed produced and choreographed her own unique dance production ‘Dance to the Music’ about evolution of dance which took the nation by storm. For more information about the show please click here.