Childhood & Early Life
Manrara was born on November 16, 1983, in Miami, Florida, U.S. She was 12 when she stepped into the musical theater circuit, and 7 years later, she began her dance training.
She learned several dance forms, including ballroom, ballet, pointe, jazz, salsa, and hip-hop. Manrara continued to study simultaneously and attended the 'Florida International University,' where she studied finance.
Upon graduation, Manrara got a job in a bank and worked there for 7 years. She, however, continued training in dance simultaneously.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Manrara's first audition for the 'Fox' reality show 'So You Think You Can Dance' ended unsuccessfully, as she could not make it to the top 20. She auditioned again for the fifth season and was one of the top 20 contestants.
She was paired with contemporary dancer Brandon Bryant, who had also failed to enter the top 20 in the previous season. Her journey on the show was incredible, as she was one of the favorites of the judges. Choreographer Mia Michaels and the show's producer, Nigel Lythgoe, adored her. They even thought that Manrara had strong chances to win the title.
Her first performance on the show, which was an Argentine tango that she performed with Bryant, received a standing ovation from the judges. Despite such great performances, she was eliminated in the seventh week, when she paired with contemporary dancer Jason Glover.
Manrara entered the show again in its eighth season, as an ''All-Star.'' She started her journey in the season with a paso doble performance along with contestant Marko Germar.
She then joined the 'Fox' musical comedy–drama 'Glee,' as a leading dancer. On July 21, 2010, she made her ‘West End’ debut with the live stage dance show 'Burn the Floor' at the 'Shaftesbury Theatre' in London. Manrara toured with the show's US cast from 2010 to May 2011.
In 2013, Manrara joined the eleventh series of the British reality show 'Strictly Come Dancing,' aired on 'BBC One.' Her celebrity partner for the season was fashion designer Julien Macdonald. Unfortunately, they were eliminated within the first few weeks of the show.
She was featured again in the twelfth series, in which she teamed up with actor Jake Wood and made it to the semi-finals. The two finished at the fifth position overall. Returning for the thirteenth series, Manrara performed with TV personality Peter Andre. They were the ninth duo to be eliminated.
Along with the main show, Manrara also featured in the off specials of the show, starting with a quickstep performance along with actor Ricky Norwood, on the Christmas special during the eleventh series.
For the following season, she and partner Phillip Barnett (founder of 'Youth Theatre Company' and 'Kidz R Us') performed an American smooth. They scored a maximum of 40 points for the special event called 'The People's Strictly' for the charitable organization 'Comic Relief.'
Continue Reading Below
In the 2016 season, Manrara teamed up with Jake Wood for the 'Strictly Come Dancing Live' tour. That year, she also partnered with radio DJ Melvin Odoom for the 14th season of the main show. Unfortunately, the two did not survive on the show for long and were the first duo to be eliminated. In addition, their face-off, too, could not take place due to fellow competitor Anastacia Newkirk's injury.
Manrara and Odoom, however, returned for the show's Christmas special and additionally performed with British slalom canoeist Joe Clarke for the 'Children in Need' special.
For series 15, she and her partner, former ‘JLS’ singer Aston Merrygold, were the sixth duo to be eliminated, in the seventh week, after losing the dance face-off to Mollie King and A.J. Pritchard.
Manrara was paired with doctor, author, and columnist Dr. Ranj Singh in the sixteenth series, and they were the sixth duo to be eliminated.
Her recent pairing in the seventeenth series was with “Paralympian” Will Bayley. Will sustained a knee injury during the rehearsals, causing them to quit in the seventh week. During the show, the two dedicated their highly praised contemporary dance performance set to Lukas Graham's song '7 Years' to the 'Great Ormond Street Hospital' patients and staff. Bayley was treated for cancer in the hospital when he was 7 years old.
In 2018, Manrara and Slovenian dancer, choreographer, and fellow 'Strictly Come Dancing' contestant Aljaz Skorjanec announced their 2019 UK Tour, 'Remembering the Movies.' In October that year, they announced they would be associated with Donahey's 'Dancing with The Stars Weekends' in 2019.
Family & Personal Life
In 2015, Manrara got engaged to her 'Burn the Floor' co-contestant Aljaž Skorjanec. Their wedding was held on July 15, 2017.
They had three wedding ceremonies, one each in London, Florida, and Slovenia, to include their elderly relatives who could not travel.
Manrara chose an ivory strapless gown created by designer friend Julien Macdonald as her wedding gown.
She had met Skorjanec for the first time during the tour of 'Burn the Floor.' She had initially declined his proposal to go on a date, but after he pursued her for a whole year, she finally accepted the proposal. After dating for a couple of years, Skorjanec proposed marriage in August 2015.
On International Women's Day 2020, she posted a picture from her wedding on her 'Instagram' page, featuring her mother, Maritza, and her younger sister, Lesly.
Of all dance forms, Manrara's favorite is the rumba. she likes to fuse the form with contemporary moves and traditional quickstep. In her leisure time, she enjoys designing her home interiors. She also loves to shop from 'Ikea.'
One of her favorite films is 'Ace Ventura.' She loves gorging on Cuban cuisine.