Strictly Professional Dancer teaches people living with cancer to dance

Friday 15 December 2023

Group photo of Michelle Tsiakkas, Strictly Come Dancing Pro, and Ųʿ West London dance lesson 'students'

Strictly Come Dancing ‘pro’ dancer Michelle Tsiakkas has been teaching ballroom and latin dancing in exclusive lessons at Maggie’s West London.

The 28-year-old Latin dance champion from Cyprus joined the popular BBC series in 2022 and is already making an impression on the dance floor as one of the series' pros.

But before joining the programme, Michelle studied architecture, and she has been interested in the Ųʿ buildings and the work Maggie’s does for years.

Cancer is a subject that’s close to Michelle’s heart – she has had diagnoses in the family, and most recently that of her close friend and colleague Amy Dowden, so she was keen to do something to help people living with the disease.

A small group of 10 participants have been given the chance to learn from the pro with weekly classes in our West London centre, which is situated on the grounds of Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith.

Strictly Come Dancing pro Michelle Tsiakkas leading salsa class at Ųʿ West London

Michelle Tsiakkas, professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, said: “It has been such an honour to teach dancing to some of the lovely visitors at Maggie’s West London.

“I have always wanted to be involved in a project like this, and Maggie’s is the perfect fit for me thanks to my background studying architecture. I am also a real believer in the healing properties of dance and the importance of movement.

“The class have all picked up the moves so quickly, and each lesson has been both fun and really inspiring. I’m looking forward to continue teaching at Maggie’s into the new year.”

Shot over Strictly Come Dancing pro Michelle's shoulder, with couples doing the salsa in the background

Alison, 60, from Twickenham, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2022 and had a second, breast cancer diagnosis in 2023. She receives support at Maggie’s West London centre and said:

“I have been so excited and a little starstruck to be learning to dance from a Strictly professional. I love the programme, so when I was asked if I wanted to do the class, there was no hesitation.

“The lessons have been so fun – Michelle is so great, full of passion and energy but really down to earth, which has been so important.

There’s a real connection between doing movement, like dancing, and feeling like you’re doing something good for both your physical health and mental health.

“The whole group just has such a great time. To see people enjoying themselves like this is really special, because with cancer, there are a lot of lows, so anything you can do that is new and exciting is great. And for Michelle to give her time to help us and make us happy like this is amazing.”

Ųʿ West London visitors smiling and dancing the salsa in pairs

Sinead Cope, Centre Head at Maggie’s West London, said: “We are so grateful to Michelle for running these lessons ahead of Christmas.

“The visitors taking part are a mix of people living with cancer and carers of those with cancer, and this kind of group exercise activity is exactly the type of support we offer people at Maggie’s.

To see the smiles on our visitors faces when they were learning the dances and talking to Michelle about Strictly was amazing, and we can’t wait to see how they progress.”

How we can help

If you or someone you know is worried about a cancer diagnosis, we have expert staff in our centres available to help you. 

Last review: Dec 2023 | Next review: Jun 2024

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