Former Strictly Come Dancing star, Canadian national ballroom champion and choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance , Katya Virshilas moved to Hong Kong four years ago – and soon after that co-founded Ballroom Bees alongside her Danish husband, former world ballroom champion, Klaus Kongsdal. “We were living in London, I was pregnant with our first child and I wasn’t touring. We were on the couch watching Game of Thrones when my husband said, ‘I think we should move to Hong Kong’,” says the mother of two. It was not such a random idea as Kongsdal had a lot of work in China and East Asia at that time. It was not such a hard decision to up sticks either, as Virshilas was used to moving – born in Lithuania and raised in Israel, she moved to Canada at age 13. It was in Canada that she fell in love with ballroom dancing and became the national champion by age 16. She then got into the film industry, where perfect timing played an important role. Hong Kong’s richest stars of 2021, wrapped “I was training in Vancouver when Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere were training for the movie Shall We Dance ,” she says. The movie’s choreographer and casting director knew she was the national champion and said there was the perfect part for her as Stanley Tucci’s girlfriend. “They gave me a script and I went to the dressing room. I read a few lines in front of a camera. Then I flew to Blackpool in England for the British Open ballroom championships,” says Virshilas, who learned she had got the part while there. I can’t teach a two-year-old how to waltz … I make it a game, making it super fun and cool Katya Virshilas, Ballroom Bees co-founder “I was able to do the film, train Richard, and also rehearse.” That role led to more acting work in Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas, John Tucker Must Die and television shows such as Smallville , Supernatural and Psych . It was perfect synchronicity when she first met her husband while a dancer on one of Britain’s most popular TV shows, Strictly Come Dancing . “My husband is nine years older than me. I was a huge fan of his dancing. And when I was introduced, I was star-struck,” she says. “I used to watch all his competitions when I was a junior.” How Wang Leehom’s divorce controversy is making Chinese women rethink marriage Soon after they married, they visited Hong Kong. “I fell in love with [the city] because it reminded me a lot of Vancouver with the ocean and mountains,” she remembers. “But Hong Kong has more grit and fun and speed, which I really like.” After they moved here, they couldn’t find the right dance studio for the boys. “Everything was centred around ballet and pink tutus,” she says. “There was ballroom dancing but it was too serious for kids.” A friend suggested that she open her own studio. “I started to develop a method, coordinating early-year behaviour management and psychology with movement and dance,” Vishilas says. “So basically, I can’t teach a two-year-old how to waltz – they need to know what is a heel and a toe, what is forward and backwards. I make it a game, making it super fun and cool for boys and girls.” 5 Hong Kong celebrities who got shocking body-shaming comments They now have 17 locations and 11 teachers, and hosted a kids’ discovery programme at K11 Musea in December 2021. Katya Virshilas’ preferred watch – Rolex Oyster Perpetual “It was my wedding gift from my husband. We got married in a chateau in France and he sent his groomsmen to give me this little gift. I was with my mum and bridesmaids in the room. I opened the box and saw the Rolex crown , and said, ‘Is this fake?’ I only take it off when I teach.” Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .