THE CAST OF 2012 - Seven West Media
THE CAST OF 2012
DANCING WITH THE
STARS CAST FOR 2012
There will be glitter and glamour when an exciting and diverse
line-up of celebrities make their way down the staircase and
onto the floor for Series 12 of the hugely popular DANCING
WITH THE STARS.
DANCING FOR THE COVETED MIRROR
BALL TROPHY IN 2012 ARE:
Casting their fears aside, eleven celebrities will take on the
ultimate challenge in their quest to be the next DANCING WITH
THE STARS champion. Among them is a record breaking sailor,
international DJ, television icon, ironman and an AFL superstar.
Kerri-Anne Kennerley, TV icon
They will strut their stuff under the scrutiny of the judges and
Australian public in support of their favourite charity.
Danielle Spencer, Singer/Songwriter
The group will kick up their heels alongside host Daniel
MacPherson and his new co-host, the sensational Mel B.
Having made it to the Grand Final of the US DANCING WITH
THE STARS, Mel knows what it takes to rumba to the top.
Judges Helen Richey, Todd McKenney and Joshua Horner will
return ready with a keen eye to watch our celebrities bedazzle
them with their new moves.
Each week during the live show, scores will be combined from
the judges plus the all-important viewer vote to determine
who will be top the dancing leaderboard and who will foxtrot
out of the competition.
Among the charities to receive support this season are
Beyond Blue, the National Stroke Foundation, Father Chris
Riley’s Youth off the Street and the Jane McGrath Foundation.
Brendan Fevola, AFL superstar
Johnny Ruffo, X Factor singer
Erin McNaught, Television presenter
Jessica Watson, record breaking sailor
Zoe Cramond, Actor, Packed to the Rafters
Vogue Williams, International DJ
Shannon Noll, Singer/Songwriter
Brian Mannix, 80s Rock legend
Caine Eckstein, Ironman
WITH THE STARS
SERIES 1 (2004)
SERIES 7 (2007)
SERIES 2 (2005)
SERIES 8 (2008)
Bec Cartwright (Hewitt) and Michael Miziner
Runner up: Pauline Hanson and Salvatore Vecchio
Tom Williams and Kym Johnson
Runner up: Ian Roberts and Natalie Lowe
SERIES 3 (2005)
Ada Nicodemou and Aric Yegudkin
Runner up: Chris Bath and Trenton Shipley
SERIES 4 (2006)
Grant Denyer and Amanda Garner
Runner up: Kostya Tszyu and Luda Kroitor
SERIES 5 (2006)
Anthony Koutoufides and Natalie Lowe
Runner up: Arianne Caoili and Carmelo Pizzino
SERIES 6 (2007)
Kate Ceberano and John-Paul Collins
Runner up: Fifi Box and Paul Green
Bridie Carter and Craig Monley
Runner up: Anh Do and Luda Kroitor
Luke Jacobz and Luda Kroitor
Runners up: Danny Green and Natalie Lowe / Paul Licuria and
SERIES 9 (2009)
Adam Brand and Jade Hatcher
Runners up: Kylie Gillies and Carmelo Pizzino / Matt White and
SERIES 10 (2010)
Rob Palmer and Alana Patience
Runners up: Tamara Jaber and Carmelo Pizzino / Alex Fevola
and Arsen Kishishian
SERIES 11 (2011)
Manu Feildel and Alana Patience
Runners up: Haley Bracken and Aric Yegudkin / Damien Leith
and Melanie Hooper
Whether it is acting, hosting DANCING WITH THE STARS or competing in
triathlons, Daniel masters his performance and does it seemingly with ease.
Last year while hosting DANCING WITH THE STARS, Daniel appeared
in Wild Boys, a period piece set in the 1800s about a group of Aussie
bushrangers. His role as Jack Keenan earnt Daniel a TV Week Silver
Logie nomination for Most Popular Actor.
In 2010 Daniel extended his hosting duties for the Channel Seven
game show Beat the Star and he filmed the Melbourne Cup movie
The Cup, starring alongside Stephen Curry and Tom Burlinson.
Growing up in the Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla, Daniel
was discovered while competing in the Kurnell triathlon and was
subsequently offered the role of Joel Samuels in Neighbours. After
making his mark on Neighbours, he received a Logie award for Most
Popular New Male Talent in 1999.
In 2002, Daniel moved to the UK to star in the musical ‘Godspell’,
alternating the lead role. Upon completion of the show, he was
offered the role of PC Cameron Tait in the long-running iconic
British TV series, The Bill. Within a year, Daniel was nominated for the
British National Television Award for Best Newcomer. He also starred
opposite legendary actor Edward Woodward on the stage in “The
Mysteries” in London’s Canterbury Cathedral, to rave reviews.
Daniel’s career has continued to traverse the globe and several
genres, with leading roles on Tripping Over, Blackjack, Seven’s hit
crime drama City Homicide, as well as hosting The X Factor in 2005.
In 2008, Daniel was named GQ Magazine’s ‘Television Personality
of the Year’ after his stellar debut as the new host of DANCING WITH
Throughout this time, Daniel has upheld a demanding and gruelling
fitness routine and continued to compete in elite-level triathlons.
A dedicated and talented athlete, in May 2009 he competed in
the China Ironman event, finishing first in his age group, earning
his place in the pinnacle of triathlons, Hawaii Ironman. Later that
year, following his second season of DANCING WITH THE STARS, he
successfully completed the event, finishing in a respectable 541st
place from a field of 1700.
Mel B knows a thing or two about the entertainment industry.
Mel B was a judge on last year’s hit series the X Factor, and is
excited to be in Australia for a permanent role alongside host
As part of the all-conquering Spice Girls, Mel B has sold
over 55 million records worldwide. The Spice Girls became
the fastest selling British band since The Beatles when they
released their debut album Spice - which remains the bestselling album by a female group in history.
The Spice Girl’s global success saw them rack up worldwide
record sales of $55 million, a Guinness Book of World
Records status for “Most No. 1 Entries in the UK Charts”
and “Most Consecutive No. 1’s for a New Act.” The group’s
enduring popularity brought about one of the most
successful concert tours of 2007-08 with the reunion trek
grossing more than $70 million.
Since then, Mel B has had a successful solo career releasing
three albums, and has moved into the television world,
appearing on the US DANCING WITH THE STARS. Mel joined
the fifth season of the hit series, dancing up a storm with
her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Despite a perfect score
on their final dance in the season finale, they took second
place in the show.
Mel has also launched her own reality show, Mel B: It’s A Scary
World and appeared on Broadway, starred as Mimi in a major
production of Rent and appeared in a presentation of The
TV ICON, AGE 58
PARTNER: CARMELO PIZZINO
DANCING FOR: LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD
“Half the time in my live television career you’d beg for something to
go wrong just so you could make it fun and capitalize on it. With this
I’m begging for nothing to go wrong.”
Television veteran Kerri-Anne Kennerley has interviewed world
leaders, sporting icons, leaders of business and superstars as a
highly respected national television presenter. But this time the
dancing shoe is on the other foot – as she takes her turn vying for
the coveted mirror ball trophy. “I think people know me for survival
and longevity,” she says, “I’ve probably raised a big chunk of the
population as a babysitter on breakfast television.”
Taking to the floor this season, she says she has no expectations.
“I’d just like to smoothly be able to get through and do the proper
thing – I don’t want to embarrass Carmelo, I don’t want to end his
Kerri-Anne says her dance strengths start and end with the boogie.
“Never have I ever stepped into Latin or ballroom dancing. Boogie
has been the sum total of my career, and best done at midnight.
Carmelo made his DANCING WITH THE STARS debut in series four
and this will be his fifth season with the show. In 2009 he made the
finals with Kylie Gillies and in 2010 came runner-up with partner
“Tenacity and stamina are really the only things I have going for
me. I have tenacity and stamina and I’ve always enjoyed trying to
get things right and I’m prepared to do whatever has to be done to
make sure it’s right.”
And is Kerri-Anne concerned about a harsh word from the judges?
Not in the slightest. “I have been criticized by the best so I don’t
even think they’ll stack up. What I’ve heard about myself over the
years… the best have had a go and I’ve survived, so that part
doesn’t phase me at all!”
This season Kerri-Anne is dancing for Look Good Feel Good, for
which she is patron. The charity conducts workshops for women
suffering from cancer, helping disguise some of the ill effects of
treatment. “I think for a very long time people have accepted the
correlation between feeling better and looking better, and there’s
no question, especially with women, losing hair, losing skin tone,
all of a sudden if you look better you feel better – it’s part of the
Carmelo was born in Perth and won his first dancing award
at just five years of age. Moving to Sydney at a young age,
Carmelo then moved to London to further his dance career and
represent Australia on the international circuit. He has since won
many Australian and World titles, including the most sought after
prestigious British Latin Championship, The International Latin
Championship, the Australian Open, South Pacific, Australasian,
Singapore’s Lion City Championship and the Rumba in the Jungle
Latin Championship in South Africa and many other titles. For the
past three years Carmelo has been performing in ‘Burn The Floor’s
Floorplay’, touring Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Japan, Europe,
Canada and the US.
AFL SUPERSTAR, AGE 31
PARTNER: JESSICA RAFFA
DANCING FOR: LIFE EDUCATION
“I’m not sure what people think of me – you either love me or
hate me, so hopefully this is a good opportunity to show people
what I’m really like.”
Brendan Fevola knows where the line is drawn with his children.
“They’re all voting for Johnny Ruffo,” he laughs. A proud father of
three girls, he says he’s excited to get onto the dance floor. “The
girls are rapt, they’ve made banners and they’re really excited
to come to the show. I’m looking forward to getting out there
and showing them what Dad can do.”
Regarded as one of the great full-forwards in recent AFL history,
‘Fev’ finished his career with 623 Goals from 204 games. He
twice won the Coleman Medal for the AFL’s leading goal kicker
and was named as an all-Australian Selection in 2006, 2008 &
2009. But he says competing for the mirror ball trophy may be
his biggest hurdle. “I’ve got sore muscles where I never thought
I had muscles. It’s very hard doing something that you’re not
used to. You know, it’s like trying to ride a bike – I feel like a kid,
like we’ve got training wheels at the moment. I don’t know when
they’re going to come off.”
Battling old football injuries – operations on his shoulders, groin
and knee – he says his posture is big issue. “And my feet don’t
move, I’ve got two left feet so that’s going to be a problem.”
No stranger to controversy, Fev knows there are divided
opinions. “You get perceived a lot from the indiscretions that
happened when I played football, and I’ve made a few
mistakes, and a lot of people write stuff which isn’t true. But
you’ve got no real right of reply so you just cop it. That’s not the
real me so I think this show’s a great opportunity to come out
and be yourself. That’s what people will either be drawn to or
they won’t like, and I’ll find out pretty quick.” Fev is currently
playing VFL footy for the Yarrawonga Pigeons.
He says at the end of the day, anything he can do for his charity
Life Education, is worth it. “I’ve got a history with it, and it relates.
They create an awareness of the problems of indulging in too
much alcohol and drugs, and go out to schools and try and
plant that in the kid’s heads. They don’t get much, so hopefully
we can make them more well-known and raise more money.”
This will be Jessica’s fourth appearance on DANCING WITH THE
STARS. In 2009 she made her brave debut with blind adventurer
Gerard Gossens. In 2010 she partnered Blair McDonough
from Winners and Losers and in 2011 took Nick Bracks to the
floor. Jessica has been dancing since the age of three. She
started her dancing career with the Junior Australian Ballet,
then ventured into Ballroom. This led her to compete on both
a national and international level for over 10 years. She was
trained in London by World Champion Latin dancers such as
Brian Watson and John Eftidal. At 15, Jessica competed at the
prestigious Blackpool Ballroom Dancing Competition in 1999.
Nine years ago, Jessica joined the cast of Burn The Floor. She
started teaching dance to blind and vision impaired people
after performing a blindfolded dance in the show. Jessica has
taught throughout Australia and the US, working closely with
Together with producer Harley Medcalf, Jessica created the
non-profit organisation Blindfold, raising money for deaf and
blind children in Australia.
Jessica was the head spokesperson for ‘Burn The Floor
presents Floorplay’, representing the company at promotional
events in Australia, China, Japan, Europe and North
America. Two documentaries have been aired in Japan
focusing solely on Jessica’s life and role in ‘Floorplay’.
X FACTOR SENSATION, AGE 24
PARTNER: LUDA KROITOR
DANCING FOR: FATHER CHRIS RILEY’S YOUTH OFF THE STREET
“Not in a million years did I think I’d be doing this. Basically I’m just
living my dream and having the time of my life.”
According to his fellow dancing contestants, Johnny Ruffo is the
man to watch on the floor this season. Bursting onto the stage
on Channel Seven’s X Factor in 2011, Johnny quickly became a
household name. “A year ago I was still doing music, working
really hard at it in the studio, but obviously to fund that I was
doing concreting and working construction,’’ he says. Since
becoming a top 3 finalist in the show, Johnny has left his boots
and safety jacket behind, signing a recording contract with Sony
And now he’s taking to the dance floor with hopes of claiming
the mirror ball trophy.
“The strengths I have are that I can probably pick the
choreography up quite easily, but it’s the technique that I’m really
struggling with. Because I’ve taught myself to dance for so long,
my mind is set in bad habits, they’re just really hard to shake.”
Johnny says he had no hesitation when being asked to take part
in the show this season. “I thought it was a great opportunity,
I love being out there on stage doing what I do best which is
entertaining and I jumped at it straight away.”
And he’s quick to stress his signature freestyle and hip hop dance
moves are all his own. “I have never in my life had a dance lesson.
Ever. Everything that I know is just from teaching myself.”
This season Johnny will dance for Father Chris Riley’s Youth
Off The Street. “It’s great, it’s all about helping kids and I
specifically wanted to help kids out because in my eyes,
kids have a lot less of a choice, they really don’t. It’s not their
choice that they’re living on the streets, they don’t choose to
not have a roof over their heads or not have shoes or clothes
to wear and not have an education – it’s not their choice. So I
really wanted to donate the funding to a charity that supports
all of that.”
This is Luda’s sixth appearance on DANCING WITH THE STARS,
winning Series 8 with Luke Jacobz and runner up in Series 4 and
7. Of Russian origin, Luda came to Australia at the age of 10. Her
passion for dance and choreography was clear at 11, when she
started training in all styles of Latin America, Ballroom, Brazilian
and Salsa. By the time she was 18, Luda already had become the
Australian Youth Latin Champion.
Luda’s passion for dance was further rewarded at 19 when
she achieved her dream of becoming World Salsa Champion
through the IDO World Dance Federation. It was the first time that
Australia was represented at the World Championships and Luda
took out the title with every judge giving her first place.
Luda’s hard work, determination and dedication drove her to
fulfil her ultimate goal as five-time World Salsa Champion. She still
holds the title and a place in world dance history.
SINGER/SONGWRITER, AGE 42
PARTNER: DAMIAN WHITEWOOD
DANCING FOR: THE AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN’S MUSIC FOUNDATION
“I will work as hard as I can work to stay in and I would love to stay in
for as long as possible. I don’t know that I’m confident, but I’m hopeful.”
Danielle’s musical career was destined from an early age. “It
was a very musical household growing up so I guess that was
kind of always in my childhood.” The daughter of Don Spencer –
a respected musician and renowned TV presenter in Britain and
Australia – Danielle first started to sing and learn the piano from
her father at the age of four.
She says being criticised by the judges could be tough. “You
really are putting yourself out there. You’re putting yourself
out to be judged, and that’s not a comfortable thing to
do. But the overriding thing was I thought it would be fun to
just have a new challenge. I would just like to engage with
dancing and get to a point where I’m really enjoying it.”
“I released an album in 2001 (White Monkey) and then I got
married off the back of touring and had two children so I had a
break from music. Then I got back to it and released an album
(Calling All Magicians) in 2010.”
With her sons with actor Russell Crowe now aged 5 and 8,
Danielle says she felt ready to make music again. “They’re a bit
older so it’s easier for me to work now and be away from home.”
But she says her musical ability doesn’t extend to the dance
floor. “I stand up for a few songs, but I’m a piano playing
songwriter so I’m not really breaking out the moves. It’s all
the technique - it looks so beautiful and effortless when you
see people doing it and doing it well. I guess that’s the big
challenge, trying to make it look effortless and graceful while
remember all of these things.”
Danielle says she first rejected the idea of competing for the
coveted mirror ball trophy. “I think initially I kind of shied away
from it, probably just out of fear. But I thought it would be fun.
Everything I do is very internal - I sit in my room writing songs and
you live in your little internal world so I thought it would be nice
to do something that’s external and physical and give myself a
challenge like that.”
In 2010 Damian made a guest appearance on DANCING WITH
THE STARS with Pamela Anderson who he partnered in the US
For the past 11 years, Damian has performed his passion in life
to millions of people around the world and has taken what was
once a hobby and made it his career. In 2001 he joined the cast
of Burn The Floor, which has sold in excess of 4 million tickets in
over 30 countries and 160 cities worldwide.
He achieved one of his lifelong goals with the company in 2009
making his Broadway Debut as a lead dancer, which opened
to rave reviews and sold out performances. Damian made the
move to primetime television in the US as one of the professional
dancers on ABC’s top rated program, DANCING WITH THE STARS.
Partnering Pamela Anderson who he has since been working with
all around the world, Damian has guest appeared on the Israeli,
Argentinean and Mexican versions of DANCING WITH THE STARS.
TELEVISION PRESENTER, AGE 29
PARTNER: GLEB SAVCHENKO
DANCING FOR: THE MCGRATH FOUNDATION
“I’m pretty clumsy. I sliced my toe open in the first 30 seconds of dancing.”
Since representing Australia in the 2006 Miss Universe pageant,
Erin McNaught has rarely stepped from the spotlight. The
Canberra-born stunner can add actor and television presenter to
her resume, her latest gig as MTV VJ.
As a six-year-old, Erin took up ballet in pursuit of every little girl’s
dream, a tutu. Now the prospect of wearing skimpy sequined
fashions is proving a touch more challenging. “Its going to be
all out there for everybody to see so I’ve made a decision to not
worry about my body and not have any insecurities because it’s
about dancing and not about my body.”
A former athlete, Erin sees dancing as another life skill to conquer
and says while she is fit and strong, she does carry the legacy of
competitive high school javelin. “I’ve got really bad shoulders,
lots of scar tissue inside, so I have no flexibility.”
Erin, who sees Kerri-Anne as the competition threat, is under no
illusion the dancing experience will be a difficult challenge. “The
only way is up for me because I’ve never done anything like this
before.” But she is being realistic. “I’m not thinking that I’m going
to be amazing, but I’ve never tried it so you never know.”
She’s hoping the judges, who often tell it like they say it, have
some kind words too. “I’m so sensitive, I’m such a crier, it’s really
embarrassing. Honestly, my one goal on this show is to not cry too
often. I hate conflict.”
Dancing for the McGrath Foundation, she says she hopes one
day it’s a disease no-one has to battle. “My family has not been
affected by breast cancer and that’s a really fortunate and a really
rare thing. So ideally down the track there’ll be more and more
people like me who don’t know people affected by breast cancer.”
And while she may not have carved up a dance floor since
a failed ballet attempt at six, she says the fight is on. “I’m
competitive, I’m really competitive. I want to win.”
This year Gleb makes his DANCING WITH THE STARS debut. Gleb
studied drama and theatre arts at the Moscow Theatre Arts
University, graduating from the Russian Theatre Arts University with
Masters in Choreography. Proficient in ballet and contemporary
dance and a specialist in International Latin, Gleb studied under
Bob Luyck in New York and Kate Sullivan in Hong Kong.
He has appeared in film and television roles, and since 2007, has
won six Professional Latin Dance Championships - Australasian
Professional Latin Championship, Australian South Pacific
Championship, Canberra Open Professional Championship,
Closed Hong Kong Championship, Open Asia Tour
Championship and the United Kingdom Championship. Fluent in
English and Russian, Gleb is married to professional dancer Elena
Samodanova who is partnered with Shannon Noll.
RECORD BREAKING SAILOR, AGED 18
PARTNER: DAMIEN SAMUEL
DANCING FOR: THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAM
“My past experience has showed me that if I really want something, if
I really want to put the hard work in, then I’ll be able to get there.”
Jessica Watson was just three days shy of her 17th birthday
when she sailed into the record books, becoming the
youngest person ever to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted
around the world. With the culmination of her feat broadcast
live across Australia, Jessica became a household name and
ambassador for Australian youth. Since then, she hasn’t put a
step wrong on dry land.
But she says there is no doubt tissues will need to be on hand if
the judges get too feisty.
“I’ll cry at some point. Everyone thinks I’m a big tough sailor
but I’m actually a massive cry-baby. So that’ll definitely
happen, that’s just a given. All my friends know that, so they’re
going to be embarrassed on my behalf.”
Last year she was named Young Australian of the Year, and
this year was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. “It’s
been the most incredible two years, I’ve crammed so much
in,” she says.
Dancing for the United Nations World Food Program, Jessica
says she will take the skills learnt from sailing onto the dance
floor. “I’m very confident because I know if I put the hard work
in, I can do as well as I want. It’s all going to be a mind game,
like everything else.”
But she says dancing will test her. “I have absolutely zilch
dancing experience. I think I’m reasonably flexible and
general fitness is good, so I suppose that’s helping me a little
bit, but I think I don’t really have a lot going for me dancing
wise. Everything is difficult, there’s so much to remember and
there’s a whole other language.”
The youngest dancer in this year’s competition, Jessica says
her commitment will take her far. “I think the biggest thing for
me is that I’m just totally determined to give it everything and if
you commit yourself to something you just have to give it your
all. And if you work hard enough I’ll be able to do well.”
Currently studying Sociology at university, Jessica says she
had to throw herself into a fresh challenge. “It’s so totally
different for me, it’s another world. I think everyone knows me
as this sailor in overalls and sea boots, and I wanted to show
everyone that there is a different side to me.”
This year Damien makes his DANCING WITH THE STARS debut.
Damien has competed and won the Championships in
the NSW Open Junior Latin and Ballroom Tournament and
Australia Open Junior Latin and Ballroom Tournament.
Blacktown City’s National Youth Ambassador for 2006 and
2007, he was also an assistant Choreographer for DANCING
WITH THE STARS Grand Final Opening in America.
Damien featured lead in Burn The Floor at Jupiter’s Casino in
QLD and was the Lead in Burn The Floor World Tour through
the United States, Australia and South Africa.
PACKED TO THE RAFTERS ACTOR, AGE 27
PARTNER: ARIC YEGUDKIN
DANCING FOR: THE SPINAL CORD INJURY NETWORK
“For me it’s going to be about enjoying the sexuality of the dances and the
sensual movements. Because I did ballet everything was so rigid so the
sexy style I find quite intimidating and it’s going to be a challenge for me.”
On screen Zoe plays Emma Mackey, one the newest faces to
the Packed to the Rafters family. Off screen this New Zealand
native, who moved to Sydney last year, says she is hoping to
cha cha her way into the finals.
has been her biggest inspiration. “That’s why my name’s Zoe
because it means life, and when I started to walk when I was
a kid, he was learning to walk again, so we’re very close. I’m
doing it for him.”
“I’d rather not focus on my competition and just focus on what I
can do to my best ability and just not care about anything else.
Otherwise you get too inside your head and too stressed out.”
Citing discipline as her main strength and bad dance habits
as her weakness, Zoe says she’s prepared to cop the criticism
that comes with former dance experience. “I did a tiny bit
of contemporary but I did ballet when I was younger until
about 16. I think it really helps with getting choreography, like
understanding steps and performance.”
In 2011 Aric was runner-up in DANCING WITH THE STARS
alongside Haley Bracken and in season three, he took home
the coveted trophy with Home and Away’s Ada Nicodemou.
And she says the first training sessions with Aric didn’t disappoint.
“It’s been amazing, as soon we met we got along so I was so
lucky. We click. It was so full on, by the afternoons I was losing it. It
was mental exhaustion that was the hardest part.”
After ongoing impersonations of Michael Jackson’s Billie
Jean routine at the birthdays of friends and relatives, Aric
Yegudkin’s mother finally took him to a teenage dance class.
At age eight, Aric had to choose between his two great
passions – dancing and tennis. He chose Dancesport and
after just two years became the national juvenile champion.
Aric teamed with two partners in the junior section, before
being paired in the youth section with Masha Belash in
July 2001. Since then, they have won many titles together,
including the National Youth Latin American Championship
three years running, the Australian - and the South Pacific Youth Under 19 Latin American Championships, and the World
Super Stars Adult Latin American championship. They were
also Australia’s representative to the World Ballroom and Latin
Championships in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2009.
Through it all she has the unwavering support of her Dad who
convinced her to dance, and it was his severe injury that led
Zoe to her chosen charity. “I chose that one because my Dad
broke his neck in two places when he was 28. He’s disabled
but was told he was never going to walk or have kids because
of his injury.” Her father’s insistence to one day complete both
Aric has toured with theatrical production ‘Burn The Floor’ and
is one of the principal dancers and choreographers for stage
show Dance Dance Dance, performing across Australia for a
number of years. Aric holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the
University of New South Wales and is an accredited instructor
with Dancesport Australia, holding a Level 1 teaching license.
The youngest of three children, Zoe says it was her Packed
to the Rafters co-star and former DANCING WITH THE STARS
contestant George Houvardas who convinced her to sign
on. “He was an ambassador for the show, I totally wracked
his brain and he’s part of the reason I chose to do it as well
because he said, ‘it’s so much fun and you’re going to have
the time of your life’.”
INTERNATIONAL DJ, AGE 25
PARTNER: CHRISTOPHER PAGE
DANCING FOR: THE NATIONAL STROKE COUNCIL
“I think if you just stick with being yourself and don’t try and be
somebody you’re not, then I think you’ll do well.”
Since landing in Australia last year, Irish beauty Vogue Williams
has fast made a name for herself as a model, ambassador and
Engaged to fellow Irish singer and judge on Australia’s Got Talent,
Brian McFadden, Vogue now lives in Australia. “Right now I can’t
imagine ever going home. If I could have my way I’d drag Ireland
down here so I could have all my family and friends here, but I just
wouldn’t go home, I just love it here, it’s such a laid back, cool life.”
And she’s ready to throw herself literally into the dancing arena,
“I’m not really scared of trying anything, I’m not really scared to
be thrown around the room,” but says she will struggle with fast
choreography and having do perform “sexy dance moves.”
But she’s not worried about the dancing outfits. “I love the
costumes, I want to go around in this all day, I want to wear it to
Coles, I want to do my shopping and stuff, I love them.”
In addition to Brian, Vogue has more Irish support Down Under
with two siblings living in Melbourne, and she hopes to be able
build on her confidence during the show. “I hope I can learn to
just not be so nervous all the time. Even when I DJ I still get a tiny
bit nervous, just like butterflies.”
And when it comes to tough criticism from the judges, Vogue’s
only concern is a fit of the giggles. “If they called me something
like a bedazzled sack of potatoes, I think I’d find it really funny. If
it’s true it’s even funnier, so I’m well able to take an insult.”
With her support fully behind the National Stroke Council, Vogue
says it was an easy choice following the death of her father in
November 2010. “It’s good to be able to do something for him”.
Vogue says her only competition is herself. “I think I just want
to do well for myself. I just want to work as hard as I can and not
turn around if I get kicked out and be like, ‘I could have worked
harder’. I don’t want to regret what I should have done.”
This year Christopher makes his DANCING WITH THE STARS debut.
Christopher has been dancing for 19 years, starting his dance
career in Canberra and with his partner of 14 years he went on
to achieve success both nationally and internationally, winning
the ANDA Australian National Championships. Christopher then
pared up with an Icelandic partner where together they were
the Icelandic National Champions, representing Iceland at the
World Latin Championships. Together they relocated to London
to spend more time training and working with the top teachers
in the world. In 2010 Christopher Joined the world famous stage
show Burn the Floor for twelve months where he performed in both
Australia and the US.
SINGER/SONGWRITER, AGE 36
PARTNER: ELENA SAMODANOVA
DANCING FOR: BEYOND BLUE
“Because Johnny Ruffo is fresh out of X Factor he’s going to have a lot
of support with all the young ones. But hopefully I’ve got their mums.
And Brian Mannix has got the mum’s mums.”
Shannon Noll burst onto the music scene in 2003 with a hit cover,
‘What About Me’ which went to the top of the ARIA charts. His
debut album, ‘That’s What I’m Talking About’ went five times
platinum, and since then the self-described “first loser on Australian
Idol” has released five hit albums and is the only male artist to have
ten consecutive top 10 ARIA chart singles.
The father-of-three says his decision to take to the dance stage this
season was not taken lightly. “I wanted to give this 100 per cent so
we postponed about 40 shows. There’s no point doing this if you’re
not going to give it everything so I want to focus on it and do it to
the best of my ability.”
No stranger to being judged on live television, Shannon said the
judges will still need to be careful when offering up helpful tips. “I’m
a bit fiery, I’m going to have to bite my tongue. If it’s constructive it’s
all good, if they’re downright nasty then I’ll be hopefully biting my
lip, otherwise I’ll be giving them the spray.” In addition to battling
the judges, Shannon may have to battle through the pain of a
bad back. “I’ve got a bulged disc, I’ve got four slight bulges and
one’s actually split the membrane of the disc itself so I’m going to
have to watch that I’d say. Anything for the cause! I might get some
sympathy votes for that.”
Throwing his weight behind Beyond Blue this season, Shannon says
the key messages are close to his heart as a former farmer. “Beyond
Blue do a lot of work for farmers and suicide. Blokes don’t know
how to talk to anyone or anything like that and its not just people
losing the business that people talk about, it’s more than that. It’s
losing their family heritage, and the pressure on them to not be the
one that lost it, when the problem is, it’s not because they’re a bad
farmer or anything, it’s because of the elements.” After Shannon’s
father died in a farming accident in 2000, his own family farm which
had been in the family for 98 years succumbed to drought.
Shannon says his biggest competition is himself. “I sort
of push myself hard and so at the end of the day you
look back at it and you know you did everything you
possibly could. I think that’s how I’ve always looked at
everything. I just want to do the best I know I can do. At
least I can say that instead of going, ‘damn it, if I had only’.
I don’t want to have any ‘if I had only’s…’”
This year Elena makes her DANCING WITH THE STARS debut.
A graduate of the Art and Culture Theatre University in Moscow,
Elena has a masters in choreography. She has also studied Drama
and Theatre Arts at Moscow Theatre Arts University is internationally
certified as a Professional Latin and Ballroom teacher in England.
She has won championships for the Australian Professional
Championship, Australian South Pacific Championship,
Canberra Open Professional Championship, Closed Hong Kong
Championship, Open Asian Tour Championship and United
Kingdom Championship. Elena is married to professional dancer
Gleb Savchenko who is partnered with Erin McNaught.
‘80S ROCK LEGEND, AGE 50
PARTNER: MELANIE HOOPER
DANCING FOR: PROSTATE CANCER FOUNDATION OF AUSTRALIA
“I’m miles behind everybody. I can’t see anybody that I’m going to
beat. But I’m going to give it a damn good try.”
Australian rocker Brian Mannix hit the stage as lead singer
and songwriter with his band, The Uncanny X-Men. Hit singles
‘Everybody Wants to Work,’ ‘Party,’ and ‘Fifty Years’ saw the band
achieve gold and platinum sales as one of the most popular
bands of the 1980s.
And he knows partner Melanie is the key to his success. “I’m
going to fang it and do the very best I can not just for my
sake but for Mel’s as well. I want to do the right thing by her
because she’s so talented, she deserves to go all the way, I
just don’t want to let her down.”
Now he’s vying for a different prize, and Brian says training has
been like nothing before. “On the second night I sat at home and
thought ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ It seemed like a very
dark place. Hopefully I’ll just keep improving and getting better.”
Brian says his only hope for victory is getting down with some old
school moves. “The skinhead dance is one of my strengths. I can
do Axle Rose and Mick Jagger pretty well but that’s about it.”
There are more weaknesses. “Posture is really bad. Remembering
it all is not that good. Actually performing it and looking like a
dancer is really bad. I can’t really see any strengths!”
Born in Townsville, North Queensland, Melanie moved to Brisbane
at the age of 21 where she went on to compete throughout
Australia in all three styles – Ballroom, Latin and New Vogue.
Like many in the competition, Brian says last year’s X Factor hit
Johnny Ruffo is the one to beat. “He dances like Michael Jackson!
And he’s got Luda’s whose a really good dancer too so you’d
have to pencil him in as the favourite.”
With his children backing Brendan Fevola, Brian says he can only
hope to impress his wife. “I can’t even waltz so I don’t even dance
with my wife at a wedding. It will be good after this when I can
get her out on the floor and give her a dance.”
Dancing for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Brian
says he can only hope to do his best. “My old man died of
prostate cancer about 12 years ago. Watching him die from it – if
you can stop that from happening to anybody else that would
be good. It’s a good motivation to try and do your best, and it’s
good that something good can come out of it.”
In 2011 Melanie made her DANCING WITH THE STARS debut,
coming runner-up with partner Damien Leith.
Melanie later moved to England to further her dancing career.
Specialising in Latin American, she enjoyed much success on the
International dance circuit dancing in championships throughout
the UK & Europe for approximately five years.
In 2008, Melanie joined the cast of ‘Burn The Floor’ performing on
Broadway for seven months, before continuing on the successful
world tour. Melanie’s dance career has taken her all over the
world with her biggest achievements including UK Rising Star
Professional Latin Champion, British Professional Rising Star Latin
runner-up, German Professional Rising Star Latin Champion,
Australian Open Professional Latin Champion, Moscow World
IRONMAN, AGE 26
PARTNER: JESSICA PRINCE
DANCING FOR: THE JOHN MACLEAN FOUNDATION
“I don’t think anyone’s really got too much of an advantage, it’s just how you
train and how hard you go up to it because we’re all starting from scratch.”
Caine Eckstein rises before dawn each day for his first bout of
exercise. Twice more during the day he’ll hit the water or gym,
often completing five hours of weights and cardio every day.
For this professional competitor, it’s all about being the best.
At just 26, Caine is the best endurance ironman Australia has
ever seen. The Coolangatta Gold Champion took his wins to a
new record this year by becoming the only person in history to
win the iconic event five times.
Firmly committed and dedicated to his sport, as a teenager
Caine often avoided partying with friends, instead focusing
on training. “When I dedicated myself to train I wouldn’t go
out for three or four months before big races.”
It’s a winning formula he hopes will move from the beach to
the dance floor. “I’ve got a good work ethic and I try really
hard, and I like to achieve my goals, and this is the same sort
He says he had no reservations when being asked to compete
for the coveted mirror ball trophy. “It’s a challenge, and you
only live once - it’ll be a bit of a rush.”
Hoping to work on his posture and not aggravate a
recently injured hip, Caine says he’s mentally prepared for
the competition. “I don’t think my physique’s going to be
too helpful, I’m very top heavy and for something like the
Viennese Waltz it’s not the best thing. It’s physically hard but
mentally there’s a lot you’re trying to absorb and you really
have to think about it, so I suppose it’s whoever puts in the
Caine says he hopes to stay composed in the face of criticism
from the judges. “They’re professionals and I don’t know
anything about dancing, but I am sort of known as the more
fiery sort of person. But if they’re bagging me then I probably
deserve to be bagged.”
Dancing for the John Maclean Foundation which raises
money to support paraplegic children, Caine says he just
wants to be moving forward. “I’m pretty competitive and
I don’t want to get to a point where I’m not competitive
because then I’m probably not going too well.”
This is Jessica’s DANCING WITH THE STARS debut.
Trained in Ballroom, Latin American, Classical Ballet,
Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz, Broadway, Tap and Funk styles
of dance, Jessica is ready to showcase her talents on the
Jessica was a soloist dancer in the American Broadway
production of Burn The Floor, as well as teaching the Burn The
Floor Bootcamp in Florida during the production.
Known for her snappy wit and stylish good looks, DANCING
WITH THE STARS judge Helen Richey was born and raised in
Melbourne. At a very early age she started dancing, studying
Ballet and Tap. At 15, Helen won the coveted Lily Ellison Award.
Two years later she met her future husband, Robert and took
up Ballroom and Latin dancing. After winning the Australian
Rising Stars Ballroom Championship, they travelled to the
United Kingdom to further their dancing careers. Originally
planning to visit for six months, they stayed for 27 years.
Helen’s competitive career included becoming undefeated
All England Latin Champion as well as the South of England
Latin Champion and the Imperial Latin Champion. In the
major international events, Helen was placed third in the
World Professional Latin Championship, equal 3rd in the British
Professional Latin Championship, runner-up in the United
Kingdom Professional Latin and was twice placed third in the
International Professional Latin Championship. Helen was a
Grand Finalist in the British Professional Championship, one
of the most prestigious events, for seven consecutive years.
She was also Australia’s official representative in the World’s
Championships in both the Ballroom and Latin Styles for over
ten years and was a regular semi-finalist in the Ballroom Style.
After retiring from competitive dancing, Helen has become
one of the world’s leading coaches and most soughtafter adjudicators. She has judged the national dance
championships of almost every country in the world. Helen
has coached World Champions, British Champions and
Australian Champions. Many of the professional dancers in all
of the series of DANCING WITH THE STARS have been trained
wholly or in part by Helen.
An accomplished and skilled dressmaker, she makes the
beautiful gowns that she wears on the show.
Undoubtedly Australia’s most successful Professional Latin
dancer, Helen has been referred to as an icon of Dancesport
and certainly deserves the title, “Australia’s First Lady of Latin.”
Currently touring with Annie The Musical, Todd McKenney has
barely taken a break since picking up the maracas again in
2011 to star as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz.
A former champion in Ballroom and Latin, singer/dancer Todd
McKenney competed internationally for more than 10 years
before breaking into theatre. Todd began dancing at three
at his mother’s dancing school in Perth, training in Jazz, Tap,
acrobatics and Ballroom.
He was cast in his first professional musical, Andrew Lloyd
Webber’s ‘Song and Dance’ in 1983. Many stage shows
followed including; ‘Cats’, ‘42nd Street’, ‘West Side Story’
and ‘Crazy For You’. He was cast as Nathan Starkey in Baz
Luhrmann’s 1992 internationally acclaimed film Strictly
Ballroom, alongside Sonia Kruger.
A career highlight, Todd did 766 performances as Peter Allen
in ‘The Boy From Oz’, winning two Mo Awards, the Variety
Club Heart Award, the Glugg Award, the Green Room Award,
the Australian Dance Award and the Helpmann Award. He
recreated Gene Kelley’s original famous tap dance on stage
in ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ - a performance that won him another
Australian Dance Award.
In 2002, Todd performed his one-man show around Australia
and in 2003 he had sell out performances of his show at
Taronga Zoo, then went home to Perth to appear in ‘Cabaret’.
In March 2004, Todd starred in his own production, ‘Todd
McKenney LIVE’, at Sydney’s Star City for a week of sell-out
shows. In August 2004, he and Rachael Beck performed with
the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the direction of
Tommy Tycho. The same month, he sang with the Western
Australia Symphony Orchestra and, in September 2005,
presented his ‘Todd McKenney Song And Dance Spectacular’
on the Gold Coast. In 2005, Todd released his debut CD “Just
a Gigolo”, and toured Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne
in his own stage show.
In 2006 and 2007 he toured Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne
in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks with Nancye Hayes. Also in
2007 Todd was nominated for a Sydney Theatre Critics Circle
Award for ‘Priscilla’ in his roles as Tick and Mitzi.
Joshua Horner leapt onto the DANCING WITH THE STARS
judging panel last year, causing controversy and mayhem
in his first week when he referred to Brynne Edelsten as a
“bedazzled sack of potatoes”. Our newest dancers to the floor
can expect the same outspoken manner.
Joshua grew up in the town of Wyong on the New South
Wales, Central Coast and began dancing at the age of 6 as a
way of improving his asthma. He hasn’t stopped moving since.
At 16, Joshua was accepted into The Australian Ballet School
in Melbourne under the direction of Gailene Stock and
after three intensive years, graduated with Honours with
an Advanced Diploma in Dance. Joshua spent five and a
half years with the Australian Ballet and was nominated for
a Helpmann Award in 2002 for Best Male Dancer, and in
2003 won an Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding
Performance in a Stage Musical for his performance in Tivoli.
In January 2006 Joshua moved to London’s West End after he was
sourced for a leading role in Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel’s Broadway
Smash Hit Movin’ Out, where he played the role of Tony.
Joshua then Featured as the Havana Boy and Featured
Crapshooter in the Donmar’s UK Touring Production of ‘Guys
and Dolls’ directed by Michael Grandage and Jamie Lloyd
and choreographed by Rob Ashford.
Returning to Australia mid 2007, Joshua was cast in the first
offshore production of Billy Elliot the Musical in Sydney playing
the role of ‘Older Billy’.
This year Joshua has been kicking up his heels as talent scout
Zach on the Broadway production of A Chorus Line in Australia.
MELBOURNE / FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT ROBYN SMITH
T: 03 9697 7765 / M: 0400 189 197 / E: [email protected]