Strictly: Kristina Rihanoff says she’s rooting for Rose Ayling-Ellis
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EastEnders’ actor Rose Ayling-Ellis has made Strictly Come Dancing history by becoming the BBC show’s first-ever deaf contestant. The 26-year-old actress has recently been named the bookies’ favourite after pledging to make the deaf community proud by taking part in the dancing competition. And her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice has been one of her many supporters to gush over the star’s achievements.
Giovanni, 31, has been busy learning British Sign Language over the past month to help communicate better with his Strictly partner Rose.
The Italian has mastered a host of useful phrases in sign language which he demonstrated to BBC host Claudia Winkleman last weekend.
Rose, who wears a hearing aid to pick up some of the music while learning to dance, has taught Giovanni how to sign words including, ‘focus’, ‘quick’ and ‘horribly shocking’.
Giovanni has now opened up on being inspired by the actress and said he’s determined to continue learning sign language after the competition draws to a close.
“Working with Rose on Strictly has been just incredible,” Giovanni told The Mirror.
“Of course she’s an absolute inspiration to me, but also for so many in the deaf community and beyond.
“The reality is, she’s making history as the first deaf person to compete on Strictly – what an achievement. What a brave thing to do.
“Of course it’s about the dancing, but the show is about so much more, and that’s what Rose represents.
“Yes, the hearing is a difference but we are not letting it stop us from progressing each week and Rose is determined to keep pushing herself.”
“Ultimately this process and partnership have really opened my eyes into Rose’s world and the deaf community.”
Giovanni and Rose have been wowing fans with their performance on Strictly so far.
They have also been impressing the judges with their moves, and they have regularly landed near the top of the leaderboard.
Giovanni added: “I’ve been learning sign-language – it’s early days but it’s important for me to put in that effort for Rose, the same way she is putting in effort for me.
“Learning the sign for ‘again, again’ as she practises the steps over and over has been very useful – and pretty funny.”
As a result of their popularity, the dancing pair have been inundated with fan mail.
On Friday, Rose shared a video of all the messages she’d received from Strictly supporters.
Rose has previously explained she was “proud to be smashing the stigma around deaf people” and hoped viewers realised “it’s a normal thing” for deaf people to enjoy music.
Before taking part in Strictly, Rose said she would be relying on body language, vibrations and counting to learn and perform her routines each week.
She told BBC News: “I have a hearing aid, so I pick up some of the music and I can hear the beat.
“I can hear someone singing, but I can’t identify exact words. I also feel the vibrations.
“I will be focusing on reading my partner’s body language plus counting in my head, which will help me with timing. So for me, it’s a combination of everything.”
Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday on BBC One.
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