Kristina Rihanoff Kristina Rihanoff

My romantic break to Barcelona and LFW!

Hi everyone,

How are you?

So I have quite a bit to tell you… I’ll start from the beginning, with my very romantic break to Barcelona! Ben surprised me before Valentine’s Day with a trip to this very gorgeous city. Seriously, if you haven’t been, hop on a plane and go! It was our first holiday together, just the two of us, to go and spend some time together without Mila. We decided to go before Valentine’s Day when it was less hectic and touristy, and it was great to get away for two nights, just the two of us. It was the first time leaving Mila at home, but Ben’s mum, his brother and his wife were all so supportive. They all looked after Mila. It’s incredible to have such a great network and amazing support from the family. They all said, ‘Guys you have to go, you have to have time to yourselves, go and enjoy it!’

I can only recommend Barcelona to everyone. It’s a beautiful city. There is so much to see, we walked and walked every day for hours. We were so tired by the end! It’s a fantastic place. We went to see flamenco because I wanted Ben to see an authentic flamenco dance. We went to the oldest one in Barcelona. It was packed with tourists and so special. I remember when I went to Argentina many years ago, I went to see Argentine Tango in the theatre. What I love about countries like that is that their dance is a part of their heritage and they’re really protective of it, they cultivate it and want tourists to see what it’s all about. In terms of sights, we went to Parc Guell and walked down to Sagrada Familia. The food is unbelievable too. The local tapas were incredible but there was also a lot of fusion food. I’ve been to different cities in Spain but there really is something very unique about Barcelona. The weather was great, it was about 14 degrees and sunny, it was a wonderful place to get away. We were so happy to go and want to go back in the summer! Like I said, go to Barcelona and enjoy yourself!

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London Fashion Week

I had a very busy, but great, weekend and it started with the Julien MacDonald show on Saturday. Julien is a close friend of ours and it’s always amazing to go see his work, his collection. Every time you see it, it’s incredible. I admire him so much and I think he’s a genius! Everything he does, every single dress is a work of art, truly unbelievable. It felt very special to be there and I was so lucky to be given one of his dresses to wear. Ben and I had a great time, we’re quite close with Julien and sometimes we go out together, but then when you see his work you realise how extremely, extremely talented he is. There is a reason why he’s one of the best designers in the world. You see all these A-listers, like Gigi Hadid, wearing his dresses and honestly, it’s incredible to see his collection. It was really nice to see friends there as well – like Lisa Snowdon, I wanted to say congratulations on her engagement – and Lizzie Cundy, Bruno Tonioli, Melissa Odabash. We all had a blast!

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New TV show

I didn’t go to Julien’s after-party because I had to shoot off to Wolverhampton. There’s a new show coming to TV in the summer, Baby Ballroom, and it’s going to be a close look at the competitive life of dancers. The show follows these five couples who all have their own story, and you see just how competitive the world of ballroom dancing is. I think it’s a great idea for a show because people perhaps watching Strictly, and us professional dancers, we’ve all been through it. We’ve all dedicated our childhood and our youth to dancing, to this sport, and it is a really hard sport. We had to do everything ourselves. Parents would usually help with lessons but what was great for me, growing up in Soviet Russia, was that my dance lessons were free. At that time, we were really encouraged to take up after-school lessons – dancing, or singing, or music. It was all there, which was amazing. People always ask, why does Russia have so many great dancers? During the Soviet Union, these kinds of activities were available to us and encouraged. My parents would never have been able to afford dance school, but back then the system was slightly different and the government took care of everything.

Nowadays it’s a very different life – it’s a very expensive sport and the show will cover all of these aspects, the glamorous side, but also the very difficult side of it. When we grew up and went to amateur and professional competitions, we had to work very hard and teach eight hours a day, all this money goes straight back into your costumes, your travel, your lessons with top teachers. You literally don’t have anything at all. You don’t even think about buying your own place. You’re just making enough money to cover your dance expenses, and that’s how all of us lived when we were young. We just believed in our sport and we wanted to succeed. It’s a brilliant show and I can’t wait to see it in June. I had to come in and teach children some techniques and dances, like the cha cha cha, Latin dancing. It brought back amazing memories of when I was back in Russia in my twenties, and I had my own dance school and taught young children, couples. I would take them to competitions myself. It kind of brought it all back and it was so, so enjoyable. I haven’t taught kids in so long and it was amazing! These children, pictured below, were from the Zig Zag dance Factory – it’s an exceptional dance school that will be at the centre of the eight-part Firecracker series with Warren and Jane Bullock. It was a very special show to be a part of, so I hope viewers will love it and it will be commissioned again!

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My charity work

I got back from filming at midnight and then the following morning I woke up very early at 7am, with Mila, and then I had to go back again to Birmingham. I went to a success day with Forever Living, this company that supports my charity Dot Com Foundation, and I had to do a speech on stage about the work I do with the foundation. There were some local children from Birmingham schools who were there and involved in our programme of pioneers. It was really great to hear from mums and dads, they said that they really wanted our programme in the schools because it really helps kids. Some of the kids there had been bullied at school and because of that programme, they actually spoke to teachers, they told them what was happening and were properly looked after. It was great to hear stories like that. It’s so important for children to speak out, to trust adults and say this is what’s happening to me, I need your help. There was one family with me on stage, boys aged five and seven, who had helped fundraise to bring that programme to their school. They did a Christmas fair, a book fair, and they raised quite a bit of money. The parents were very happy that their children were being so proactive. It was a very exciting time to see the programme growing, and the charity growing so I was so happy!

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My new YouTube channel

In other news, I’ve created my own YouTube channel, so that I can update you all with my news and interact in a more personal way. Please subscribe to my channel here and let me know your thoughts! I’ll also be using my channel to answer your questions, so feel free to leave comments or tweet me on @KRihanoff and @hellomag using the hashtag #AskKristina and I’ll try and answer them in my next blog!

Here’s my first video:

Until then,

Kristina x

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