Book Review: Dancing Out Of Darkness By Kristina Rihanoff
Like most people, I have read a lot about Kristina Rihanoff in the papers, mostly negative, mostly about her personal life. So it's hard not to skip straight to those pages and get the inside scoop from the woman herself.
However, like all autobiographies, you have to start at the beginning. I didn't know very much about Kristina's pre-Strictly life, other than she had been in the cast of the Dancing With The Stars live tour in the US (the programme for which I should really dig out and see if she's in it - I saw the show in Fresno). Kristina had a difficult time as a kid. Her father and mother argued constantly, until he left, and was generally absent after that. Her mother later became an alcoholic, so Kristina was pretty much alone, and found solace in dancing and teaching.
Dancing lead her to the US, aged 19, not speaking a word of English. She partnered a man named Brian and depended on him and his family for everything. The two later become a couple, and married, until their careers started to take them in different directions.
Fast forward a few years, and following a whirlwind audition, Kristina is a household name on Strictly, partnering John Seargent. You'll know most of the story from there, expect that you probably haven't heard Kristina's side.
Kristina speaks honestly about the difficulties the press have presented, with their constant intrusion, but seems baffled by their interest. Unfortunatly for Kristina, the facination with the celebrities and their partners started long before she joined the show. If you are attractive and single (and now it seems even if you are not), the press will make up everything in between becuase it sells papers, or makes people click.
Those looking for the intimate details about Kristina's relationships will be disappointed. She talks mostly about how the stories were wrong, how she was persecuted by others selling their stories. She refused to do that herself, and felt she had to take the press abuse with no outlet. This book is now that outlet.
The thing I loved was how warmly she speaks about Joe Calzaghe. They were a couple for four years, and clearly they parted on good terms.
Sometimes, people suggest that Kristina is cold. Last year in Blackpool, while others were happy to chat to fans and pose for pictures, Kristina clearly did not want to be stopped. But having read the book, I now understand what a difficult time she was having. There were paps everywhere outside the venue, and I think Kristina wanted to protect herself. It was a totally different story just a couple of years ealier when the Dance To The Music tour was in Cardiff, and she was charming and happy, and was about to head off for dinner with Joe and his family.
The press are now suggesting that Kristina's time with the show could be coming to an end, and while the book concludes at the end of the 2015 Strictly tour, it certainly sounds as though she could be making her peace with the end of an era.
I had lost some affection for Kristina in recent times, but the book has reminded me what I loved about her when she joined Strictly, and that she is still that person. It was the press and social media which had persuded me otherwise.