Dancing With the Stars professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev’s personal life has been in the spotlight since he started dating WWE wrestler Nikki Bella. They were partners during season 25 of the reality competition, got engaged in November 2019 and welcomed a son, Matteo, on July 31.
But before this romance blossomed, Chigvintsev was married before. His ex-wife is his former dancing dancer, Giselle Peacock. They tied the knot in 2004 but the relationship broke down a few months later.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Giselle Peacock Is a Champion Ballroom Dancer
Peacock was born in February 1981, according to a search of online records, and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. She told the Sydney Dance Company in a 2017 interview that she was inspired to start ballroom dance lessons after watching her parents take a class. Peacock said she was dazzled by the accessories:
My parents started ballroom lessons and I saw another girl my age there who was wearing high heel shoes. So I knew that if I started lessons my parents would buy me the high heels. It didn’t really have anything to do with dancing at all.
Peacock specialized in Latin-style dancing and by age 14, she was competing around the world. Peacock identified Samba as her favorite because “it is the fastest and most energetic of the Latin dances.”
Peacock went on to become a champion dancer. According to her professional Facebook page, Peacock was a four-time United States ballroom champion. She represented the U.S. twice at the World Championships and was a finalist in “Ballroom/Latin DanceSport,” according to her company website.
Peacock won the 2000 International British Championships in England. Her record also includes a second-place finish at the Blackpool Dance Festival in 2001 alongside partner Genya Mazo. A full list of Peacock’s competitions and finishes from 1997 to 2006 can be seen here.
Peacock spent more than a decade as a Broadway performer. According to her profile with the dance company Strictly You in Australia, where Peacock signed on to teach classes, Peacock “was one of the leading ladies and dance captains in the Ballroom Sensation Burn the Floor performing in over 40 countries including long stints on Broadway and the West-end.”
Peacock earned high praise in 2011 in a Dance Magazine review:
Dancer Giselle Peacock was a stand out. Much shorter than most of the other dancers, she made up for her lack of height with her attack and feisty execution. She was the perfect blend of technique and sex appeal. Her shorter legs seemed to make her foot work crisper than her long legged counterparts and her black curly hair whipped up a frenzy. A slow rumba duo to Burn for You, with partner Kevin Clifton was breathtaking, yet her fast Cha Chas were just as exciting.
2. Peacock Owns a Dance Company in Australia
In addition to competing around the globe, Peacock’s dance career included appearances on various reality TV competitions. She was featured on Superstars of Dance in 2009. The international dance competition was put together by the producers of American Idol but the show lasted just one season. Peacock also appeared on Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance in the U.S. and Australia.
After 12 years on the Broadway show Burn the Floor, which Peacock described in 2011 as a physiclaly demanding experience, Peacock made Australia her permanent home. She now owns a dance studio in Naremburn, a northern suburb of Sydney, called GPower Dance Fitness.
According to the company website, Peacock offers several classes including cardio dance, barre, yoga, pilates and body sculpting at her studio. She offered the classes online amid the coronavirus pandemic. Peacock explained on her company bio that her dance knowledge includes “Jazz, Hip Hop, Swing, Lindy Hop and Salsa.” Peacock added that she “spends her days spreading her love and knowledge of dance to all ages in many styles in schools across Sydney.”
3. Peacock & Chigvintsev Lived Together at Her Father’s House After Meeting at a Dance Competition
Sparks flew between Peacock and Chigvintsev at the Blackpool Dance Festival in 2003, when they were both in their early 20s. She explained to the Daily Mail in 2010 that soon after, Chigvintsev flew to the United States to attend a wedding with her. He ended up never booking a flight home to Russia. Peacock explained:
We fell hard for each other. Artem didn’t have anywhere to stay, so I took him to my dad’s house in California where we shared a room. We were inseparable. We started dancing together as partners within weeks of his arrival. My dad agreed to sponsor Artem to get a work visa so we could continue training together. He literally had no money, so for the first eight months I supported him by buying all his food, clothes, dance classes, entertainment.
The relationship extended beyond the romantic and into the professional. Peacock and Chigvintsev competed together on the ballroom dancing circuit in the United States for nearly two years. According to Dance Sport Info, the couple won five Amateur Latin competitions between 2003 and 2005.
4. Peacock Now Says She Believes Chigvintsev Married Her to Get a Green Card
Peacock and Chigvintsev tied the knot in November 2004 at a courthouse. Peacock told the Daily Mail she would have preferred a destination wedding, but she was concerned Chigvintsev would not be allowed to return to the United States if he left.
The couple soon decided to audition for So You Think You Can Dance. During their audition, which you can watch here, the judges noted that their chemistry was palpable. Peacock explained to the camera that since “Latin dancing is very passionate, very romantic,” she and Chigvintsev’s intimate relationship enhanced their dancing.
But despite the positive reviews from the judges, only Chigvintsev was chosen for the show. Peacock said that spelled the beginning of the end of their short marriage. She told the Daily Mail the fame went to his head and that Chigvintsev simply vanished from her life:
I went home and Artem never came back with me. He literally disappeared out of my life. He stopped taking my calls. He never even went back to my dad’s house to pick up his clothes. In the end all I could do was leave him a voicemail saying: ‘As you won’t talk to me, I thought I’d let you know that I want a divorce.’
Peacock said that after the split, she wondered whether Chigvintsev had married her in order to have a better chance of securing a green card. (Chigvintsev became a U.S. citizen in 2014, according to his professional website). Peacock added that she felt Chigvintsev changed dramatically over the course of their relationship. “He was a sweet, skinny Russian boy when I met him. But he became more and more obsessed with fame, success and money.”
5. Peacock Married Professional Musician Giorgio Rojas & They Have 2 Daughters
Peacock found love again after her brief marriage to Chigvintsev. She is now happily married to professional musician Giorgio Rojas. It’s possible they met through work. According to his bio on the GPower Dance Fitness website, Rojas is a “master percussionist” and toured internationally with Burn the Floor. The show shared a picture of the couple in 2014 on Facebook as they relaxed on a boat.
Rojas was born and raised in Peru and started playing instruments at the age of three. Rojas may have been the one to suggest a permanent move to Australia. According to his bio, he earned his bachelor’s degree in music at the Australian National University. Rojas now also teaches jujitsu at his wife’s studio.