Now, this is interesting. I have observed myself over the past year with my growing and newfound confidence brought on solely through dancing.
When I first joined Simply Dancing Partners a year ago, one of my favourite phrases was “i don't like people”. I only liked “my people” namely my private teachers (more about them in my next blog). Even in the group class I was unhappy about interacting with my fellow students and the dancing partners.
Fast forward to today:
The group class offers something entirely different to my private lessons. They are hard work and require concentration but I feel that I can relax and enjoy one and a half hours of dancing without the spotlight being only on me. I can misbehave a bit and laugh a lot. I get on really well with my classmates. I dance with several different and wonderful partners during the course of a class. I “perform” my dances more because I don't feel the eyes of the gods (the teachers) on me. However, if the teacher compliments or criticises me or chooses to dance a few steps with me, I feel sort of special. I go home happy and full of joy.
What I am actually saying is that the group classes offer me something completely different. After private lessons I resemble Rodin’s “The Thinker”. - trying to remember the step sequences and technique. After a group class, I feel like the ultimate party girl (imagine that - at my age).
Being partnered by the enchanting Carl Jansen
I was just about to enjoy a weekend in the Country as the guest of one of my neighbours who had driven me down to her beautiful home in Pulborough when the phone rang and it was my friend Carl Jansen. I cheerily greeted him with “I am down in the country for the weekend”. He sighed and said “Oh, in that case I have some very bad news for you. I have just been given tickets for tonight’s Live Strictly so I guess you can’t come with me?” I looked at my friend and explained that this was the equivalent in my world of being given Centre Court tickets at Wimbledon to see Andy Murray play and she immediately offered to put me on the first train back to London. (Thanks Gill for being such a good friend).
Carl has been a loyal and wonderful teacher for several years. He told me that I was the most obvious choice to accompany him. His brother owns a dance studio in South Africa and used to compete with Oti’s sister. As guests of a pro-dancer we were in the best seats in the house – opposite the judges and only one row from the front.
We started off in the VIP tent and were then taken to our seats where we remained for about four and a half hours. It was fascinating to watch the highly efficient production team in action and to see the beautiful set close up. The studio is really quite small as are the audience numbers – somehow it all seems much bigger on the TV.
This was the first time I have been able to see the footwork of the celebrities as this is not always possible when you see them on the TV screen. It was quite amazing how they have mastered not only the posture and hold and often complicated dance routines but also how accurate their footwork was.
Oti and Danny started the evening and sizzled on the floor – she is a great choreographer and has done wonders with him. We had a chat afterwards and I complimented him on his dancing. He is extremely self-effacing and was flattered when I told him how good he is. When he dances I really feel the excitement and joy he brings to every dance.
My absolute favourite was Rob (Judge) Rinder. He just sparkles and exudes such enthusiasm. His Quickstep was fast, accurate and light. He is the perfect example of how a non-dancer can be transformed by a great teacher. I have always said it is an attitude of mind. If you want to do it and really listen to your teacher, any man can learn to dance. This is what he said on Saturday “Everybody needs to learn to dance it's such joy. I'm having so much fun”. I am really cross with Craig for continually harping on about Rob’s facial expressions. What possible relevance does this have to his dancing ability? It is spiteful and unnecessary. I have watched many pro-dancers make pouting faces when dancing Charleston and Jive it is part of the character of the dance. I went over to tell him how much I admire him and he was extremely gracious and gave me a big hug – it was another high spot of the evening.
I also managed to speak to Ore who was greatly relieved to have won the dance off. It was fairly obvious that he would win in a contest against Laura but I was anxious for a few moments. I told him about Simply Dancing Partners and he immediately told me to sign him up for lessons when I described how we always have lessons with professional partners. Unfortunately, he lives in Manchester!!!
I congratulated Ed Balls on an excellent performance and showing men that anyone can dance if they put their mind to it. He glowed with pleasure when I told him how impressed I was. Greg’s was extremely popular and danced well but he doesn’t move me like Rob, Danny and Ore who have that special something extra.
As for the girls – I didn’t manage to speak to any of them but I thought that Claudia danced beautifully and with great precision. Louise’s Argentine Tango was very dramatic and well executed but once again the passion is missing – she needs to show her feelings more. Daisy was really graceful and elegant. I am so glad she got enough votes to stay in this week.
Tess Daly is a very charming and ladylike hostess and it is no wonder that she has this role.
Carl, you finally made it onto my website – you made my dreams come true on Saturday. It was a magical experience – thank you.
Footnote to the Producers of Strictly – I am available to take over from Len!!
There is no doubt as you get older, you need to exercise your body and your mind - that applies to you men as well (there are several men taking private lessons as well).
I could be in my sixties, seventies or even eighties (not going to say). Walking, jogging, the gym - I tried them all - I even had a personal fitness trainer. It was all so boring.
Then I found Simply Dancing Partners in Marylebone. I danced quite seriously as a child - ballet, modern, tap, ballroom - and into my late teens but then broke my leg which ended any aspirations I had to dance professionally. But the love of dancing never left me.
I had been contemplating doing some ballroom dancing for a while and even tried a rather seedy place in Fulham which was full of women and hardly any men. I certainly did not want to dance on my own, with another woman or with a man who could hardly dance at all.
At Simply Dancing Partners, I not only have a qualified private teacher (actually I alternate between 3) but also join in a group class where everyone has a professional dance partner. The partners are trained to make you feel like a million dollars - their manners are impeccable. Under the guidance of the teacher, they want to make you dance and enjoy yourself.
When I joined Simply Dancing Partners, I decided on 1 group class each week. Within no time at all, I became impatient and booked a private lesson each week as well. Now, I have 2 private lessons and one class most weeks - that’s three and a half hours of intense exercise for both the body and the brain - and it is no more expensive than having a personal fitness trainer. I am now fitter and more confident than I have been in years. I have made new friends who share my joy in dancing.
I started this journey thinking about Waltz, Foxtrot etc - namely the ballroom dances. Within a short time, I discovered the Latin dances - Cha Cha, Jive, Samba etc. I decided that I loved the Latin and hated the Ballroom. Now, I love them both. Next month, this could all change. The passion boils down to how much you are improving - of course the better you do a dance, the more you love it. All the dances, if you do them correctly are hard work and heavenly. It’s therapeutic magic.
One of my teachers works on specific routines where I learn the sequences. Another, teaches me social dancing - namely following your partner with no set routine. Yet another is preparing me for the IDTA exams and I have recently discovered the Salsa teacher who is a joy.
All my trips abroad now include finding a local dance school/teacher. On my most recent trip to Thailand, I found Russian Peter who danced the Cuban Salsa with me every other day. Then it was Palma where I booked an English professional dancer who retired there and runs a school. Then it was Puglia - where one of Simply Dancing Partners ex-teachers is involved in a school. Yet to be booked is Havana with Jenni - who runs Simply Dancing Partners - for a week of intense Cuban Salsa then Buenos Aires for Argentine Tango.
I know that I am fortunate - I live in the Marylebone area and I can afford this luxury.
By: Kati Lurot
Simply Dancing Partners Ltd Registered Office: Palladium House, 1-4 Argyll Street, London W1F 7LD. Registered in England.
Company Registration Number: 05716025