STRICTLY Come Dancing's Italian star is set to embark on his fourth solo tour, which calls into Weymouth. He tells Laura Hanton what audiences can look forward to.

Born in Sicily, Giovanni Pernice was seven years old when his love for dance began. "I was watching Come Dancing, and I just fell in love with the chemistry between the boys and girls," the champion Latin dancer explains. "I knew then that I had a real passion for dance."

Despite being the only dancer in the family, the rest was history: from 2007, Giovanni competed in international dance competitions, winning the Italian Open Latin Championships in 2012 with his dance partner Erika Attisano, and ranking second in the championships two years later.

He also competed successfully in various other opens, including Pieve di Cento, Italy and Saint Cugat des Valles, Spain.

In 2015, Giovanni joined BBC's Strictly Come Dancing as a professional dancer for its 13th series, in what he describes as a "dream come true." A firm favourite on the show, he has reached the finals three times, with celebrity partners Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee and Faye Tozer.

He was most recently paired with Michelle Visage, a judge on the popular television programme, RuPaul's Drag Race. The couple were eliminated in week nine, in Blackpool.

"Working on Strictly, and doing what I love every day, is just amazing," he says. "I'd love to be on the next series - I'm just waiting for the call."

Meanwhile, though, Giovanni is about to set out on a 70-date tour of the UK with his fourth solo show, This Is Me. The production pays homage to the music and dances that have inspired Giovanni's career, exploring his journey from a competition dancer to one of the biggest names on the BBC show.

In 2019, Giovanni's Dance is Life tour, which he performed with his professional dance partner Luba Mushtuk, was a sell-out success.

"This Is Me is going to include a bit of everything," the 29-year-old says. "Music, instruments, comedy sketches - which I love to do - and obviously plenty of dancing. Not just Latin, either, but ballroom and Charleston too."

Joining Giovanni on stage will be a full cast of backing dancers, most of whom are Italian. The role of leading lady is shared between Nancy Xu, Strictly's newest professional dancer, and Guilia Dotta, who features on Dancing with the Stars Ireland.

For such a big tour, it is a surprise that the cast only start rehearsals two weeks before the action begins. "We have to make it work," Giovanni says. "We often have very long days, but we manage it. I have an amazing team and I'm so excited to be working with them."

Directing and choreographing the show are power duo Trent Whiddon and Gordon Grandosek Whiddon, who have performed across the world and been nominated for a World Choreography Award in Los Angeles. Also joining the line-up will be Oksana Platero, a former Strictly professional, and her husband Jonathan, a World Salsa Champion. The couple are currently professional dancers on the American show, So You Think You Can Dance?

So it is weird for Giovanni to be performing away from the Strictly spotlight?

"Given that this is my fourth tour, I'm kind of used to working on my own - and I love it," he says. "On Strictly, it's all about the celebrities. On my tour, it's all about me. It gives people the chance to get to know the real Giovanni."

A lesser known fact about the Italian star is that he holds the world record for the fastest jive kicks and flicks - 55 in 30 seconds - as well as Charleston swivels - 24 in 30 seconds. Giovanni gained the titles after taking part in two competitions on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, both of which were supervised by the Guinness World Records.

For Giovanni, dancing is all about making people feel good. "It just makes everyone happy," he says. "Families and friends get together to watch these kind of shows, or to watch Strictly, and it makes them feel close."

He adds: "The people who come to see my tour are all different ages, seven to 70 - there's no limit. It's amazing to be receiving support from everyone, and audiences are guaranteed a great night out."

The dancer is currently dating Pussycat Dolls star, Ashley Roberts. The pair met whilst competing on Strictly back in 2018, when Ashley was partnered with Pasha Kovalev. They confirmed their relationship at the beginning of last year.

Kicking off on February 27, the This Is Me tour will include a special gala performance at the prestigious Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End, home to Phantom of the Opera. Due to popular demand, an extra five weeks have been added.

"I love travelling across the country, and performing in place I didn't even know existed," Giovanni says. "It's an incredible experience, and I can't wait to get out there."

The show comes to Weymouth Pavilion on Wednesday, March 25, followed by Lighthouse, Poole's centre for the arts, on Thursday, March 26. Both performances begin at 7.30pm.

A selected number of VIP tickets are available for each, which include a 90-minute meet and greet with Giovanni himself, plus photo and autograph opportunities, and the best seats in the house.

Standard tickets are around £35, with concessions available for students, seniors and under-18s. To book, visit the venue website or contact the box office.

More information about the production can be found at