DWTS pro Emily Barker says the Strictly curse ‘is not a real thing’

Dancer Emily says that if two people click with each other “then things happen.”

Dancing With The Stars professional Emily Barker

Emily and Carl Mullan lifted the glitterball last weekend

Emily with fellow dancer Curtis Pritchard

Emily with Johnny Ward

Emily with her partner Olly Ashton

Eddie RowleySunday World

Dancing With The Stars professional Emily Barker reveals why she has a double reason to celebrate this week.

In a surprise result, Emily and celebrity Carl Mullan from 2fm won the glitterball trophy on the hit TV show on Sunday night — and this weekend Emily picked up the keys to her first home with boxer boyfriend Olly Ashton.

Stunning Emily (26) split with Irish actor Johnny Ward in early 2020 and soon after met Olly in their native Nottingham, England.

In an exclusive interview, Emily tells the Sunday World that Ashton has family on his father’s side in Kildare and the couple stayed with them during the Dancing With The Stars series.

She says: “When we met in lockdown, Olly didn’t know that I spent so much time in Ireland, and we didn’t realise the Irish connection until a year into dating.

Emily and Carl Mullan lifted the glitterball last weekend

“It’s great to have that connection, and now when we are over in Ireland we go and stay with his Irish family in Kildare.”

The popular pro dancer revealed that she and Ashton have also set up a personal, one-to-one online fitness and nutrition training programme for women, called Mad Hot Fit.

“It’s an app and it took off in lockdown,” Emily says.

“Now that Dancing With The Stars has finished I’ll be going back into it and we’re open for new clients.

“Olly was taking on a huge part of the business when I was on the show and now I can’t wait to get back to it.”

Emily with her partner Olly Ashton

Emily, who has been a dancer since childhood, also previously dated former DWTS professional Curtis Pritchard for a couple of years.

He later hooked up with Maura Higgins on Love Island, but their relationship ended shortly after the show.

“Curtis was my dance partner since I was really young,” she says. “We had a working relationship as well as a romance.”

Although they eventually broke up, Emily says she doesn’t believe in the so-called ‘Strictly curse.’

“I’ve got to say that the Strictly curse is not a real thing.

"If two people click and two people get along with each other then things happen, but I don’t think it’s the show that makes that happen. I think it’s spending time with people.”

Emily with fellow dancer Curtis Pritchard

Her break-up with Johnny Ward was amicable and a mutual decision. “It was lockdown and, being in two different countries, it just got too difficult,” she explains.

“Olly and myself are just so happy. We’ve just bought a house and we get the keys on Friday.

“Our plan now is to do up the house and also have a little bit of time off to spend with each other as well.”

Looking back on her life in dancing, Emily recalls: “I started dancing in England when I was seven and I competed up to 14 years old.

“At that stage I had won a lot of titles and done world championships, and then I sort of fell out of love with it and I had a break from 14 to 17.

“For those three years I was a normal teenager at school and college. I never thought I would go back into dancing, but at 17 I got the buzz and the feeling back. It had been a major love for such a long time and the love that I lost for it was the competition side of things.

Emily with Johnny Ward

“I did one year away from home travelling around the world as a dancer on that show and then, at 18, I got my first season on Dancing With The Stars and it’s been all go since that.”

Emily, who has a younger brother, paid tribute to her parents for supporting her love of dancing. “They have no connection with showbiz, they are working class normal parents — my mum is a hairdresser and Dad is a bookie — but they dedicated every weekend to driving me up and down England for dancing competitions when I was a child,” she reveals.

“Dancing has been great for me because I was really shy as a child and it gave me a lot of confidence. I had tried loads of sport before discovering that dancing was what I really loved. From being shy, suddenly I was like, ‘oh, now I want it to be all about me.’

“I feel I’ve grown up on Dancing With The Stars because I was very young when I started on the show. People ask me would I like to do Strictly, but at the moment it’s not something I think about.

“I actually love being in Ireland, I love Irish people and I’ve built up such a great family unit with the guys in Dancing With The Stars.”

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