THE first couple of Strictly - Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara - are to be reunited on stage with their new show Remembering the Oscars which comes to Manchester next weekend.

Dance routines from some of the most popular movies of all time will feature in the show including Cabaret and Dirty Dancing and there will be a whole section devoted to Disney movies.

With a cast of some of the best dancers based in the UK, two singers and a huge LED screen featuring specially filmed content, it promises to be a memorable experience.

“You’re going to feel you’ve had a night at the Oscars,” said says Aljaž. “There’s going to be all styles of dancing that even includes a little bit of Bollywood courtesy of Slumdog Millionaire.”


Aljaz and Janette recreate Bandwagon (Picture: Colin Thomas)

Aljaz and Janette recreate Bandwagon (Picture: Colin Thomas)


Janette added: “We’ll also be reflecting some of the amazing choreography featured in films like La La Land, Flashdance and Chorus Line. It can’t be long, in our opinion, until an Oscar is awarded for best choreography.”

One of her favourite parts of the show is when she’ll get to do the slow, romantic numbers with her husband. Whichever way you look at it, Aljaž is something of a heartthrob. Is she comfortable with that?

“Absolutely,” she said. “In fact, I find it quite complimentary. I’m very proud of him. The way I see it, I pick up some of the kudos. Other women might lust after him but I’m the one he comes home to!”

Many professional dancers and their celebrity partners have fallen victim to what has become known as the Curse of Strictly but Aljaz said that has never been an issue for either him or Janette.

“If you’re in a strong relationship with someone else, it’s not inevitable that you’ll begin an affair with your dance partner,” he said. “The rumba, the Argentine tango, both require you to put across physical attraction.

“But it doesn’t have to spill over to life away from the dance floor. In the end, any passion is manufactured. Dancing is acting. It’s telling a story with conviction. But it’s not real.”


Aljaz and Janette, Remembering the Oscars

Aljaz and Janette, Remembering the Oscars


Both Janette and Aljaz have become household names thanks to Strictly but now they have both moved on. For Janette that meant fronting It Takes Two, the daily Strictly spin-off.

“I’ve long wanted to establish myself as a presenter,” she said, “and, luckily, I was able to achieve that when I got the break to co-host Morning Live, the show that follows BBC Breakfast each weekday morning. That was a big pinch-me moment.

“Gethin Jones is the main host and he taught me so much. His best bit of advice was to make sure I’d done really thorough research on anyone I’d be interviewing. There’s no substitute for doing your homework properly.”

For all this seamless transfer to becoming a TV host, it must have been hard to find herself not dancing, so did she miss it?


Janette as Faye Dunnaway (Picture: Colin Thomas)

Janette as Faye Dunnaway (Picture: Colin Thomas)


“A lot,” said Janette. “Strictly was my family for so long. I’m married to someone who was still dancing on the show. I found it very hard.

“Being a dancer is who I am. I’m 38 now and my body is changing. It felt strange not being physically active anymore, not activating my endorphins on a daily basis. Now I go to the gym regularly and watch what I eat because I’m not burning off the calories through dancing every day.”

Recently it was announced that Aljaž won’t be returning for the next series of Strictly but he can’t see a time when he won’t be dancing if his body allows.

“I’ve been dancing since I was five,” he said. “I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a dancer.”

He grew up in a small town in Slovenia, an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the capital, Ljubljana. His father, would drive him there after school to dancing lessons every other day and then wait hours before driving him home again. It’s a sacrifice that Aljaž has never forgotten.


Aljaz channels his inner 007 (Picture: Colin Thomas)

Aljaz channels his inner 007 (Picture: Colin Thomas)


His mother, Nataša, was equally invested in her son’s ambition. And discipline and dedication, he says, were her watchwords.

“Her favourite saying was: ‘The short cut is the longest way,.” he said. “What she meant is that there’s no substitute for doing things properly.”

He clearly took it to heart - he had his mother’s words tattooed on his left upper forearm.

As well as bringing them to the public’s attention, Janette and Aljaz have a lot to thank Strictly for personally.

“It’s why we met,” said Janette. “It’s where we fell in love and now we’re married. I think the public likes the fact that we’re a real-life couple.”

All right, let’s fast-forward 10 years. What would be the perfect scenario, both personally and professionally, for each of them?

Aljaž loves the social life, he says, that comes with dancing.


Aljaz and Janette as Tarzan and Jane (Picture: Colin Thomas)

Aljaz and Janette as Tarzan and Jane (Picture: Colin Thomas)


“I like to entertain; I’m fond of cooking. So, looking way into the future, I’d love to own a coffee shop or a bar one day. But, for now, there’s nothing I like better than performing.

“I hope we’re just as happy then as we are now,” he says, simply. “I feel so happy and proud of everything we do every day.”

Janette added: “The more time we spend together, the more the love deepens. I think about the future a lot. In 10 years’ time, children will be part of the picture. And I hope we’ll have a beautiful home out in the country. Health and happiness – they’re the goal.”

Remembering the Oscars, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Sunday, April 17. Details from