Aliona Vilani

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Aliona Vilani
Born (1984-05-01) 1 May 1984 (age 31)[1]
Residence Los Angeles, United States
Occupation Ballroom dancer
Years active 2001 – present
Height 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Spouse(s) Vincent Kavanagh (m.2014)

Aliona Kavanagh (née Vilani) (Russian: Алёна Вилани; born 1 May 1984) is a Russian-Kazakhstani professional dancer.


Vilani started learning ballet when she was five years old, and moved to Russia to learn ballroom dancing at age 11.

In 1997, aged 13, she moved to the United States and joined the Kaiser Dance Academy in Brooklyn, New York. In 2001 she was part of the US Ballroom team for the National Dance Congress that won the Amateur Ballroom category.

After the competition ended, she turned professional, and remains the youngest dancer in the US to have done so. Since 2006, she has lived in Los Angeles where she competes, performs and teaches. Her speciality is 10 Dance, although she is specially skilled in Salsa, Hip Hop and Jazz. On 14 April 2009 she appeared as a guest dancer on Dancing with the Stars in Hollywood.

On 20 December 2013, it was announced that Vilani will feature in Brendan Cole's theatre show Licence to Thrill in early 2014 as the lead female dancer.

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

Vilani first participated in series 7 in 2009, where she partnered Rav Wilding: they were eliminated in week 3 following a dance-off with actress Lynda Bellingham and her dance partner Darren Bennett.[2]

Dress worn by Vilani in the 2010 series, displayed at BBC Television Centre, Birmingham

In 2010 she appeared for the first time on the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour where she partnered actor Ricky Groves. They danced the American Smooth and the Paso Doble. She also partnered Matthew Cutler in the professional dances. In April 2010 rehearsals started for the Strictly Come Dancing Professionals Tour in which she partnered Matthew Cutler & two weeks later the opening night started the 12-week tour.

Vilani was runner up in the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing, partnered with Matt Baker.[3] She returned in 2011 for the 9th series of the show, where she and partner Harry Judd of pop-rock band McFly went on to win the competition, beating Chelsee Healey in the public vote, but also in the eyes of the judges.[4]

Vilani returned for the 2012 series of Strictly Come Dancing, where she was paired with television presenter Johnny Ball. A training accident in the three-week interval resulted in torn ligaments for Vilani, causing her to at least temporarily retire from the show. She was replaced by Iveta Lukošiūtė who, with Ball, went on to be eliminated in the first week.[5] Vilani did however return in the final group dance alongside Ball, and later took part in the 2012 Christmas Special, partnering Fabrice Muamba.

On 1 June 2013, it was announced that Vilani would not be competing in series 11. However, she reportedly reacted angrily, stating that it was "not her decision to leave, and I had planned to be on the show and now I have to make new plans".[6] However, on 2 September 2013 it was further reported that professional dancer Natalie Lowe received a foot injury and that she would be replaced by Vilani.[7] Her partner for series 11 was championship golfer Tony Jacklin but the couple were the first to be eliminated (in week 2).

Vilani appeared in a short special edition of Strictly Come Dancing featuring Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean filmed in support of the BBC Children in Need charity and shown on 15 November 2013.[8] She also appeared on the 2013 Christmas Special, partnering Matt Goss; they scored 35 for their American Smooth.

Vilani returned for the 12th series of Strictly in 2014 and with her partner Gregg Wallace was again the first couple to be voted off in round one on 5th October 2014. She also appeared on the 2014 Christmas Special, partnering Louis Smith, and they were the winning couple.


Year Celebrity partner Week Dance Judges' scores
Horwood Phillips / Dixon Goodman Tonioli Bussell Total
2009 Rav Wilding
2010 Matt Baker
2011 Harry Judd
2012 Johnny Ball
2013 Tony Jacklin
2014 Gregg Wallace 1 Cha-Cha-Cha 3 x 5 5 5 18
2 Charleston 3 x 5 5 5 18


  1. ^ "Aliona Vilani". Strictly Come Dancing Pro Tour. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "BBC One - Strictly Come Dancing - Celebrities". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  3. ^ "Matt Baker". Strictly Come Dancing. BBC. Archived from the original on 11 September 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "McFly star Harry Judd wins the Strictly Come Dancing final - 3am & Mirror Online". 2011-12-18. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Blogs - Strictly Come Dancing - Johnny Ball leaves Strictly". BBC. 
  6. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing: Aliona Vilani furious after being axed from the show". 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  7. ^ Daisy Buchanan. "Strictly Come Dancing pro Aliona Vilani returns to the show, replacing injured Natalie Lowe - Mirror Online". Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  8. ^ Jayne Torvill beats Christopher Dean in the Strictly Come Dancing BBC Children In Need Special Daily Mail 15 November 2013.
Preceded by
Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev
Strictly Come Dancing Champion
(with partner Harry Judd)

Series 9 (2011)
Succeeded by
Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace
Preceded by
Ricky Whittle and Natalie Lowe
Strictly Come Dancing runner up
(with partner Matt Baker)

Series 8 (2010)
Succeeded by
Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev