“Dancing With the Stars” pros like Cheryl Burke mourned the loss of “Strictly Come Dancing” designer Luca Sartori, a former ballroom dancer who died unexpectedly on August 27 after having a seizure. He was 54 years old.
Sartori’s passing was confirmed by his partner of 26 years — designer Vesa Hietala — who released a statement via Instagram on August 28.
“Yesterday I lost the love of my life, my best friend and my partner of 26 years,” Hietala wrote.
“Luca had no known health conditions, but had a seizure of some kind and his heart just stopped,” the designer continued. “The paramedics tried to revive him for 50 minutes, but sadly he never regained consciousness.”
“I have no words to describe my pain and loss,” he finished.
Burke, 39, shared Hietala’s post via Instagram Stories on August 28.
“Luca, the joy you brought to our lives will not be forgotten. May your soul rest in peace,” she said. “Will always have love for you and [Vesa Hietala]. Always and forever.”
Sartori designed costumes worn by professional dancers throughout the world through Vesa Design, the company he ran with Heitala, 46.
Sartori was a former dancer who specialized in ballet and Latin ballroom, according to his bio on his website.
Their bio states that Sartori and Heital began making costumes for their dance partners when they were still performers.
“Soon our creations started to get attention from other professional dancers, and so Vesa Design was born,” reads the about me section.
“We have always been passionate about the image on the dance floor,” it continues. “Being former dancers, all our costumes are based on the movement, and visual impact on the dance floor.”
Mark Ballas’ Mom Is Heartbroken
Shirley Ballas — the mother of “DWTS” pro Mark Ballas — said she was saddened over Sartori’s death. She said she had been friends with Sartori for many years.
“My dear friend Luca. I have known Luca and Vesa many years,” Ballas, 62, wrote via Instagram on August 28. “We have been there for each other when things sometimes got tough in the industry.”
“Luca always made me laugh. He had a unique way of making you feel special,” she continued. “A hug from him helped everything. Those strong Italian arms of reassurance for a woman were unforgettable.”
Ballas is the head judge on “Strictly Come Dancing” and is nicknamed “The Queen of Latin.”
The judge finished her post by saying Sartori was “one in a million that has been taken far too soon.”
DWTS Pros Sent Their Condolences to Heitala
It wasn’t just Burke and Ballas who issued statements. Heitala’s comments section was filled with condolences from “DWTS” pros.
“Vesa, I am so sorry. Our hearts are with you,” wrote Jenna Johnson.
“So so sorry for your loss💔,” penned Pasha Pashkov.
Former “DWTS” pro Karina Smirnoff said, “OMG! Noooo!!!! I’m so sorry! 💔💔💔.”
Daniella Karagach said she was shocked by the news.
“I can’t believe it,” she wrote in Heitala’s comments section. “I’m so so sorry Vesa… this is heartbreaking. Sending you love and deepest condolences💔😔🙏.”
Maria Vultaggio is an entertainment journalist who covers HGTV and Dancing With the Stars for Heavy.com. She has worked as as an editor and reporter for Newsweek, the International Business Times and Statista and graduated from Stony Brook University. She is a New York native now based in Miami, Florida. More about Maria Vultaggio