'I had no one to dance with!': Strictly's stunning new Russian dancer fell head over heels for British Army boy after going to Blackpool with her MUM

  • Katya Jones will appear alongside her husband Neil Jones in the new series
  • The couple met in  Blackpool after she had split from her Russian partner and had no one to dance with
  • Her mother exclaimed: 'Oh! It's that ginger boy!' when she first saw Neil at the dance competition
  • Katya's Korean ancestors were persecuted by Stalin and deported 5,000 miles after suspicion of espionage, MailOnline can reveal
  • The dancing couple are appearing on Strictly for the first time 
  • Celebrity contestants include Ed Balls, Lucy Whitmore and Will Young

Strictly's new Russian star found love on a trip to Blackpool with her mum after arriving at a competition with no one to dance with after splitting from her partner. 

Katya Jones from Sestroretsk, a health spa resort on the Baltic adjoining St Petersburg, had been due to travel with her then Russian partner but they separated shortly before a competition in the Lancashire resort.

The break-up meant she had no-one to dance with, but went anyway, and took her mum.

That decision eight years ago changed her life. 

It was a fateful journey: the up-and-coming Russian talent ended up with a new British dance partner Neil Jones with whom she soon fell in love and later married. 

MailOnline can also reveal that Katya's ancestors were Stalin victims cruelly branded 'spies' and deported 4,900 miles from their Pacific island home. 

All alone: Katya Jones decided to come to Blackpool for a dance competition even though she had no dance partner

All alone: Katya Jones decided to come to Blackpool for a dance competition even though she had no dance partner

'Oh! It's that ginger boy!' - what Katya's mum said when she realised her daughter was going to dance with Neil (pictured above), who was born in a British Army camp in Munsk, Germany

'Oh! It's that ginger boy!' - what Katya's mum said when she realised her daughter was going to dance with Neil (pictured above), who was born in a British Army camp in Munsk, Germany

Lifelong passion: Katya had always loved dancing and competed from an early age. Pictured: With dance partner Mikhail Motylev

Lifelong passion: Katya had always loved dancing and competed from an early age. Pictured: With dance partner Mikhail Motylev

Katya's distinctive looks come from her ethnic Korean mother, whose family had lived on the island of Salkhalin, off the east coast of Russia before being exiled

Katya's distinctive looks come from her ethnic Korean mother, whose family had lived on the island of Salkhalin, off the east coast of Russia before being exiled

Loved up: Katya and Neil have been inseparable since they started dancing together eight years and regularly post pictures of their life together on social media

A source close to the family said: 'When Katya parted with her partner Igor Astafiev, her mother Tatiana went with her to Blackpool.

'Here Richard Porter, an English dancing coach, persuaded her to try a new partner, Neil Jones.

'Richard told her: 'I've spotted one guy for you. With him you'll either lose - or win it all.'

Katya herself has explained the story, saying a new English dance partner was the last thing on her mind.

'When I split with my partner, we already had a trip booked to dance Blackpool,' she said.

'So I decided to go anyway. I went with my Mum. I actually did not plan any try-outs as nobody really knew who I was.

Happy days: Katya with her grandmother on her wedding day.  She and Neil  have been dancing together since 2008 and wed in 2013 in London

Happy days: Katya with her grandmother on her wedding day.  She and Neil  have been dancing together since 2008 and wed in 2013 in London

Even as a child she had a fascination with Britain, say those who know her. 'England meant everything for Katya,' a source in Russia told MailOnline

Even as a child she had a fascination with Britain, say those who know her. 'England meant everything for Katya,' a source in Russia told MailOnline

'She drew very well, she studied English, she took music lessons. Her family supported her in everything,' the source said

'She drew very well, she studied English, she took music lessons. Her family supported her in everything,' the source said

Katya on her way to rehearsals at Strictly Come Dancing

Katya on her way to rehearsals at Strictly Come Dancing

'I just came to watch...  Richard said to me that he knew a partner for me. He wouldn't tell me who it was.

'So I didn't know and I was wondering all the time. He finally told me it was Neil Jones and my Mum said: 'Oh, it's that ginger boy!''

Neil started dancing at a local ballet school at the age of three. The couple have been dancing together since 2008 and wed in 2013 in London.

Her career and personal life took off, and she feels an all round winner as she starts her Strictly adventure, with her British husband also in the new series.

'She is so happy with him, and it all began with that visit to Blackpool,' said the source.

But is all a far cry from another trip her ancestors took exactly 80 years ago, in 1936.

Back in the grim Soviet Union in the years before the Second World War, her forebears were forcibly deported 4,900 miles - and branded as spies - by Josef Stalin, MailOnline can reveal.

Happy days: The couple live with their dog Crumble and have been posting excited tweets and Facebook messages about their time on Strictly

Happy days: The couple live with their dog Crumble and have been posting excited tweets and Facebook messages about their time on Strictly

It is the couple's first time on Strictly and will find out this weekend which celebrity they will dance with and teach

It is the couple's first time on Strictly and will find out this weekend which celebrity they will dance with and teach

Katya competed with Evgeny Urazgildeev, reported to be her school classmate, in Germany and Finland as she flourished in youth competitions

Katya competed with Evgeny Urazgildeev, reported to be her school classmate, in Germany and Finland as she flourished in youth competitions

Katya's distinctive looks come from her ethnic Korean mother, whose family had lived on the island of Sakhalin, off the east coast of Russia.

In the 19030s and 40s many Koreans labourers were recruited and sent to the island, which was under Japanese control, to make up the shortage of workers who had gone to fight in the Second World War.

Amid purges and trumped up charges in the 1930s, the paranoid Stalin deported virtually the entire Korean population - some 172,000 people - 'to prevent the penetration of Japanese espionage' in the Soviet Far East.

Stalin feared the Koreans were Japanese agents and sent them en mass on cattle trains to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in what amounted to an act of genocide since some 40,000 perished from starvation, sickness and exposure to cold.

Katya maternal grandfather Oktavian was born en route to bleak Karaganda in 1936, but in fact her family thrived in their internal exile, and he rose to become a respected Soviet designer while a great uncle was a leading academic.

Her 76 year old grandmother Antonina still lives in Kazakhstan.

Map showing the route where Katya's Korean ancestors were deported from the island of Sakhalin to Kazhakstan, a journey of 4,900 miles

Map showing the route where Katya's Korean ancestors were deported from the island of Sakhalin to Kazhakstan, a journey of 4,900 miles

Katya maternal grandfather Oktavian was born en route to bleak Karaganda in Kazhakstan 1936, but in fact her family thrived in their internal exile, and he rose to become a respected Soviet designer. Her 76 year old grandmother Antonina (above) still lives in Kazakhstan

Katya maternal grandfather Oktavian was born en route to bleak Karaganda in Kazhakstan 1936, but in fact her family thrived in their internal exile, and he rose to become a respected Soviet designer. Her 76 year old grandmother Antonina (above) still lives in Kazakhstan

'From early childhood, Katya had everything a child can wish to have,'a source told MailOnline

'From early childhood, Katya had everything a child can wish to have,'a source told MailOnline

Despite being a descendant of victims of Stalinist repression, Katya grew up in a prosperous, happy family

Despite being a descendant of victims of Stalinist repression, Katya grew up in a prosperous, happy family

Katya's father is a highly paid senior executive at a leading electric and power generating company linked to energy giant Gazprom, and the family home is a large detached house.

Katya's father is a highly paid senior executive at a leading electric and power generating company linked to energy giant Gazprom, and the family home is a large detached house.

Yet despite being a descendant of victims of Stalinist repression, unlike Kristina Rihanoff, who Katya replaces, the new girl on Strictly did not have to fight her way up from poverty when the Soviet Union broke up triggering social upheaval and economic chaos.

'Katya's is not a story of Cinderella, who was poor and unhappy, and suddenly became a star,' said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

'Katya had everything from the very beginning. She was not in need.

'And the fact that her relatives were deported, well, this happened, but it doesn't mean they were unhappy or not successful in life.'

As Katya grew up, her well-to-do family could afford to indulge her passion for dancing.

Living the dream: Katya is loving her time on Strictly and regularly post updated on social media

Living the dream: Katya is loving her time on Strictly and regularly post updated on social media

Katya is new to Strictly and will be paired with one of this year's male celebrities which include Ed Balls and Greg Rutherford 

Katya is new to Strictly and will be paired with one of this year's male celebrities which include Ed Balls and Greg Rutherford 

Katya's parents, photographed in St Petersberg, have always supported the dancer

Katya's parents, photographed in St Petersberg, have always supported the dancer

Her mother graduated from the Leningrad State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in 1987.

Her father Andrey Sokolov, 53, studied at the same law faculty at Leningrad State University as Vladimir Putin, although not at the same time.

The leading professor was Anatoly Sobchak, who when he became mayor of the city, restoring its historic name St Petersburg, gave ex-KGB spy Putin his first job in politics.

Today Katya's father is a highly paid senior executive at a leading electric and power generating company linked to energy giant Gazprom, and the family home is a large detached house.

'From early childhood, Katya had everything a child can wish to have,' said the source. 'She did not have to overcome any great problems.

'The only difficulty she had to get over was her own self. Dancing was not her only occupation in her childhood.

'She drew very well, she studied English, she took music lessons. Her family supported her in everything.

'For example, her paternal grandmother who lives in Sestroretsk, too, always saw her as her favourite grandchild.

'She twice accompanied Katya when she went to compete abroad.'

'She drew very well, she studied English, she took music lessons. Her family supported her in everything,' said the source

'She drew very well, she studied English, she took music lessons. Her family supported her in everything,' said the source

'Katya is the only professional dancer in the family. But all her closest relatives love to dance.  Katya's elder brother Andrey is a perfect tango dancer,' the source told MailOnline

'Katya is the only professional dancer in the family. But all her closest relatives love to dance. Katya's elder brother Andrey is a perfect tango dancer,' the source told MailOnline

Tatiana drove her daily to and from her new dance school in St Petersburg.

'Of course it took us a lot of effort, and time, and money. Each dress was about £650. But the family supported her to the hilt.

'Her dancing never intervened her school studies. Katya had only excellent mark in school. She was never lazy, always industrious and hard working.

'She was not interested in disco parties or any other kind of parties. She loved dancing and she devoted everything to dancing.

'Katya is the only professional dancer in the family. But all her closest relatives love to dance. For example, Katya's elder brother Andrey is a perfect tango dancer.'

There were a succession of dance partners, and MailOnline has unearthed touching images of her alongside her first - Mikhail Motylev.

Then came Evgeny Urazgildeev, reported to be her school classmate, with whom she danced at competitions in Germany and Finland as she flourished in youth competitions. They were together from 2003 to 2007.

Her final partner in Russia was Igor Astafiev, with whom she split on the eve of her trip to Blackpool.

Even as a child she had a fascination with Britain, say those who know her.

'England meant everything for Katya,' said the source in Russia.

'She designed her own room in Victorian style. She created it all herself.

Katya's mother Tatiana drove her daily to and from her new dance school in St Petersburg and paid for the dresses she needed

Katya's mother Tatiana drove her daily to and from her new dance school in St Petersburg and paid for the dresses she needed

Katya had three dance partners before coming to the UK and the first was Mikhail Motylev (pictured above)

Katya had three dance partners before coming to the UK and the first was Mikhail Motylev (pictured above)

'Katya always had perfect taste. Even when she was small, she never allowed her mother to do her make up for her, she always did it herself.'

And surprising as it seems given her supreme dancing talent, her love of design is taking over as the greatest passion in her life.

'Katya is a talented designer. To be honest, she's a talented person is talented in everything.

'Many friends have asked her to design wedding dresses for them.

'She creates both dancing dresses and casual clothes and in fact she completed a design course in Britain since moving there.'

But as she has said: 'I actually hate talking about dancing.

'There are so many other interesting things. I am interested in fashion and design. This is what I want to do now.

Katya combined her dancing career with studies at the University of Culture and Arts in Russia. Pictured: Walking to work at Strictly past London's most iconic sites

Katya combined her dancing career with studies at the University of Culture and Arts in Russia. Pictured: Walking to work at Strictly past London's most iconic sites

'Katya is a talented designer,' the source told MailOnline. 'She creates both dancing dresses and casual clothes and in fact she completed a design course in Britain since moving there.'

'Katya is a talented designer,' the source told MailOnline. 'She creates both dancing dresses and casual clothes and in fact she completed a design course in Britain since moving there.'

She revealed she also combined her dancing career with studies at the University of Culture and Arts in Russia.

'It is hard but I really want to find the time to do fashion and design and create things with my hands,' she said.

'I am good at sewing and all handicrafts. This is 'what I want to do in future'.

'I'm constantly absorbing things, creating things, helping my friends to design dresses, do lots of things with hair. I love it, I enjoy it.

She remains extremely close to her family back in Russia.

'My family is really close so it is hard for me,' she said. 'My Mum says she still cannot get used to this feeling that I am here (in Britain).

'She still thinks one day I will come back home .' 

 

 

 

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