Ahead of the start of Strictly Come Dancing 2018, we caught up with professional dancer Dianne Buswell – who is still in the competition thanks to her amazing chemistry with partner Joe Sugg – to find out what it’s like starring on the nation’s best-loved programme.

A typical week for a Strictly dancer

While dancing in sequins in front of an audience of millions sounds like a dream for any aspiring dancer, the life of a Strictly pro is seriously gruelling.

‘First thing on Monday we meet up to learn the professional dance, then it’s on to a train or plane – unless you’re lucky enough to have a celebrity based in London – to meet your celeb and start rehearsing,’ says Dianne. ‘From Tuesday to Thursday it’s more rehearsing, but by Friday you need to have it perfected because you’re then down to the studio for fittings, rehearsals and that spray tan we all love so much! Saturday is an early start – especially for the girls – and then the live show. Sunday is technically our day off, but if you’re still in the competition you need to use it to choreograph your next routine.’ Phew!

Dianne’s relationship with Joe

When we interviewed Dianne her dance partner had yet to be announced, but it was clear to all Strictly fans that she and Joe Suggs would make the perfect pair.

The couple have such incredible chemistry on the dance floor that the two have been linked romantically (as so often happens on the show!) but Joe has poured cold water on the suggestion, saying they’re both too busy dancing.

And they certainly have been busy! Last week’s street dance number to Jump Around was like nothing Strictly has seen before. Catch up now:

Dianne Buswell’s Strictly Come Dancing Choreography

Luckily Dianne is a dab hand at choreography thanks to her years of experience and former role as a pro dancer on Dancing With The Stars Australia. ‘Your celeb tends to give you a lot of inspiration, and you choreograph to highlight their strengths and hide their weaknesses. Obviously I was paired with the Rev [Reverend Richard Coles] last year, so a lot of the ideas I might have had weren’t going to work. I went for a different avenue with him!’

Remind yourself of the Rev’s unusual performance style!

‘My favourite part of the whole process is seeing your celebrity’s progression, and seeing how much love they develop for dancing.’

It’s clear from her partnership with YouTube star Joe Sugg that her teaching skills are being put to good use this series. We adored this Hallowe’en foxtrot:

How the Strictly dancers stay healthy

As you can imagine, a seven-day work week requires a lot of energy. Dianne keeps hers up with healthy eating, early nights, coffee and ‘Berocca – it’s my best friend!’

But training so hard during cold and flu season can mean germs getting passed around the cast. ‘We work so closely that if one of us has a cold, it gets around. But I tend to feel worse when I lie in bed – when I dance and sweat it out I feel better.’

Dianne’s favourite dance

She reveals she has one regret about last year’s series – that she never got to perform a Charleston. ‘It’s so much fun and cheeky, and every celebrity really embraces it.’

And luckily that wish came true when she was paired with Joe – they impressed with an incredible Charleston to Cotton Eye Joe!

Why Strictly contestants lose so much weight

‘Going to the gym feels like a task, but you could be dancing for two hours and it feels like 10 minutes have gone by,’ says Dianne. ‘By the end of a session, my clothes are usually drenched in sweat, but I feel so good. You’ll notice that the celebrities who haven’t danced before lose so much weight on the show, and they tone up a ridiculous amount. Even those who are really fit before the show admit that dancing is a great workout.’

And the health benefits of dancing don’t stop there. ‘My nan had Alzheimer’s but she was dancing until the end,’ says Dianne. ‘It helped to keep her body and brain active, and it was what she loved to do.’

Keeeeep dancing!

Don’t be daunted at the thought of getting involved with dance – find a local beginners’ group and everyone will be in the same position. ‘It’s no big deal if you can’t remember the steps, just try to have fun,’ says Dianne. ‘Everyone learns at different rates – I pick up the professional dances more slowly than some of my colleagues. Plus think of the celebrities having to do it for the first time in front of millions!

Which Strictly dance is the best workout?

The BBC series divides dance challenges into ballroom (including the waltz, quickstep, tango and Viennese waltz) and Latin (including cha-cha, samba, rumba and paso doble).
‘Latin is a better cardio workout, but ballroom is amazing for toning,’ says Dianne.

‘When you have your arms held up for a dance they really start to ache, and you’re also toning your core. People tend to work out quite quickly which they prefer – if you’re an extrovert, it’s probably Latin, but more mellow people tend to 
love ballroom.’

It’s clear from Joe’s incredible quickstep at Blackpool – which earned him his first 10 of the series – Joe is a natural when it comes to ballroom. We’d be very surprised not to see the Youtube star in the final!

New Strictly professionals

‘I am so excited for the new series,’ Dianne told us, having  joined the cast last year. This season there are three new pros taking to the floor (Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe and Luba Mushtuk) but they’ve got nothing to be nervous about, according to Dianne. ‘It’s like a family at Strictly and it immediately feels like everyone’s known each other for years.’

The new Strictly pros joining the 2018 cast!