Since the first contestants of Strictly Come Dancing swept onto the ballroom in 2004, ballroom dancing has become popular with a new generation. Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko have become shining stars in this new ballroom world. Both accomplished dancers in their own right; they began to dance together in 2007.
They specialised in Latin dances and swept the board in dance championships worldwide. They took first place at the World Professional Latin Championships in Bonn, Germany, in late 2010.
They then took another world championship trophy just five months later in April 2011, performing in Russia's famous Kremlin ballroom in Moscow. They defended this title over and over again and were victorious in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. In fact, Riccardo and Yulia have spent more than half of their 14-year partnership as the reigning world champions.
It's clear that not only are they masterful dancers, but they get on well enough as partners to form a successful and lasting relationship. When you read reviews of the competitions and their dancing, words like dynamic and mesmerising are used.
Even if you've never seen a Latin dance in your life, the intricacy and accuracy of their footwork and the complexity of the steps are clear to see. A great example was their Jive showdance in Dublin in 2019. The jive is fast and fun, but all the kicks and flicks must be perfectly on point. Riccardo and Yulia execute the dance perfectly with so much fun and energy it's impossible not to smile while watching them.
Yulia was born on September 11th 1981, in Belgorod, Russia. As a child, Yulia's parents saw how well she could replicate movements from the TV and decided to foster this ability by enrolling her in dance classes.
She started with Russian folk dancing at four years old and moved to ballroom when she was only seven. She proved she was gifted very quickly and became Russian Junior National Champion when she was twelve. When she was 21, she took the big step of moving to America to continue her dancing career.
She became the dance partner of Maxim Kozhevnikov when she arrived and the US National Professional Champions. Although many dancers are only partners on the dance floor, Yulia and Riccardo have been married since 2017 and have one son.
Riccardo was born on December 7th 1977, in Terni, Italy. His parents were famous ballroom dancing coaches and owned a dance studio. That is where he began to learn to dance when he was six. He proved to be a talented dancer and performed with several different partners at a range of competitions. Interestingly, he preferred classic ballroom to Latin dancing in those early years.
It was only when he started dancing with Australian dancer Joanne Wilkinson in 1998 that he switched to Latin completely. Considering the number of world championships he has won, this seems to have been a wise choice! His most successful years were with Yulia until the pair retired in 2019.
Since their retirement, the pair have continued to be active in the dance world. They publish content on the dance instruction app Koros and are active on social media. Many YouTube videos of their performances have more than 3 million views, and they have 63,000 followers on Instagram and 34,000 followers on Facebook. If you want to keep up to date with these very talented dancers follow them on Facebook.