Ok, so I’m only a minor celebrity in the TV world, but when the call came from my agent asking if I would like to go on Strictly Come Dancing, without thinking, I said yes. I had never danced in my life. I was sure that standing waving my hands and bobbing up and down while music blared did not count as dance in the proper sense of the word.
Our first day of rehearsals dawned, I arrived early in my usual state of anxiety. Thinking. “What have I done? Here I am sitting in the rehearsal room, it is huge with mirrors all around and it is freezing and I am shivering. Is it cold? Or fear? Or both?”
My professional dance partner/trainer opened the door with a smile. To me, it looked more like a wolfish grin. He entered and walked towards me with the grace of a panther. I watched, mesmerised as he came towards me, feeling rather like a rabbit in the headlights. I knew I should have said no months ago when Libby, my agent, phoned, but I had this vision of me dancing in a long, floaty, glittering outfit, wearing those impossibly high heels in the arms of a dark, handsome man spinning me around the ballroom floor.
Well, I had the dark, handsome man right there, but whether I’d be spinning was anyone's business.
This is what happened.
His hand was outstretched. “Hi Belinda, so pleased to meet you. I’m Christoforos, but please call me Chris, it’s easier not such a mouthful.”
I beamed at him, thinking, ‘Great, I’m going to have this Greek god teach me how to move my two left feet in a dance!’
He rubbed his hands together. “We better get going. It’s so cold in here and the only way we will warm up is to dance.”
I nodded my head, yes to anything, to be here is an experience in itself.
He continued. “This week, we’re doing the Jive. It’s fast, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it quite easy.”
I looked at him dubiously. I wanted to please this dancing god who had deigned to leave Mount Olympus and stoop low enough to teach me. So all I did was meekly nod my head. “You’re in for a tough time. I’m useless at dancing.”
Those white teeth flashed, not in a growl but a beatific smile. “Nonsense, everyone who comes on the show has a non-dance background, you will find your dance feet quickly, I promise you.”
Soon we were jumping up and down and yes, he twirled me around. I was happy about the lack of heating in the room since it took no time before I was pouring sweat. We rehearsed for hours. I thought my body would object to this hectic work, but suddenly I found my second wind.
Chris smiled. “Yes, that’s better. You’re getting the feeling for the movement. Tomorrow we’ll concentrate on the technique.”
The week went on with long hours of practice interspersed with trips to the dressmakers’ rooms in the basement. That was like visiting Aladdin’s Cave. There were garments in all stages of construction, some so close to finishing I could fill in the missing bits and get the idea, but some just looked like strangely shaped bits of cloth.
On Friday, we went along to the main stage to have a run-through of our dance in the space we would compete in the next day.
I could not believe it, but my Greek god had choreographed a routine, taught me, left-footed me, to dance. The costumes fitted perfectly. We stood on the floor, ready to perform. The blood was pounding in my ears, then I realised it was our music, my body took over and we DANCED!
Afterward, the judges talked to us. Then we went upstairs. I was in a dream state, as all the others greeted us. Soon after, the scores were in. Then I knew I’d learn how bad I was. But no, there was cheering. We had scored a healthy 33!
My first dance proved I was wrong. I could dance. Now I wanted to stay in the competition as long as possible, provided Chris could perform his magic. Yes, I got to do an American Smooth with a lovely floaty dress in hold with my personal Greek god and I loved it.
We only reached the semi-finals, but I can ballroom dance. That is something I thought would never happen. Now all I have to do is adjust to ordinary guys, not a Greek god dancing with me. Whatever happens from now on, I know I am a reasonably good dancer. I proved it to myself. So much for all those fears at the start of this journey. They were all unfounded.
(c) Felicity Edwards