Strictly Come Dancing is in full swing, my feet are aching and my head is full of advice doing a very complex jive in my brain. However, it’s my grandfather’s words of wisdom that really struck a chord. He rang to give me a debrief on my first performance which, let’s face it, was stiffer than an ironing board, and ended the conversation with these words, which I have adopted as my mantra: “If nothing else, Alex, just dance like nobody’s watching.”
Now, this is a typical case of easier said than done. Although being part of the show as it goes live is incredibly exciting, and we all feel very lucky, taking to the floor with your partner is enough to paralyse you with fear. This, of course, results in what the viewers witnessed: me struggling to get to the end of the dance without giving it ample “oomph” and looking slightly deranged, with my top lip stuck to my gums from concentrating too hard on keeping a smile on my face.
Anyway, I’ve decided to attack our next dance, the foxtrot, with gusto. By the time you read this, you’ll know if I succeeded. I’m dead set on making James proud and, with his help, staying in the competition for as long as possible. James still compares me to Basil Fawlty, I still have to actually repeat the words “slow, quick, quick, slow” out loud to keep my rhythm, and my feet and arms still refuse to move at the same time, but he assures me that I’m improving.
Although the training is very enjoyable, and we both often leave the studio with a stitch from laughing so hard, I do think that all of us contestants are feeling the pressure, with only days between each live show to master a whole new dance.
With this in mind, I’m also taking tips from “Dancing hero Donovan”. By his own admission he’s worked solidly to dazzle on that dance floor. He says, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” So, following his advice, I’m now trying to find little pockets of opportunities to practise… my feet are doing silent steps under the table at our One Show meetings, I practise my posture while sat at traffic lights, and I may have a sneaky little run-through of suitable facial expressions for the next dance in the One Show toilet.
Who knows whether all this advice will pay off, but it’s fine because, in my mind, nobody will be watching anyway.