The decision was not a hard one, in fact, I wanted to sign up for the Agents Giving charity ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ event last year, but health circumstances meant I was not able to. So, with a slight improvement in my health and a ‘go for it’ from my consultant and osteopath, I took the plunge and put my name down for the 2017 contest.
Phew. That wasn’t too hard.
The biggest issue was going to be staying upright on my feet. You see I have 2 spinal injuries which are causing considerable pain and discomfort, and quite often, a bump to the floor when all feeling goes and the ground swallows me up. I have been treated for over 2 decades for my spinal disc injuries, but in 2016 the pain worsened significantly with a trapped sciatic nerve in my left leg, plantar fasciitis in both arches and a throbbing heel spur to boot. Anyway, I was not going to let the prospect of a few bumps and bruises ruin my enthusiasm for training to carry off a waltz, tango, foxtrot, samba or cha cha cha with a professional dancer. At this stage who knows what dance I will be given to learn for the actual event, but I have promised myself as many lessons as I need to take on board ballroom and latin dances, for my own satisfaction (and the audience’s viewing pleasure)..
So on the 14th January I took myself off to Wright Rhythm Dance School in Enfield to start my training. I was terribly nervous, I didn’t know anyone and was about to walk into a room of professional dancers whizzing around the dance floor. You’d think working in a customer facing job for 30 years would alleviate any worries of such an entry but honestly my stomach was churning! I haven’t danced in quite a few years, but I used to love dancing the waltz with my dad as a young girl and he used to whizz me around the ballroom at ‘Ladies Nights’. I am also an avid ‘Strictly’ fan and have watched every series on TV, oohing and aah-ing at the beautiful dresses and wishing I could be a princess in a ballgown just for one night.
So the private training classes have started in earnest, these are the ones that are optional for contestants (not the free Rightmove ones) and they are designed to give you a complete round-up of all the potential dances which I could be asked to perform. I wanted to check that I still have rhythm and can memorise steps from one lesson to the next. I had taken some adult jazz classes with a friend after work for a few years but had to give up when I realised I spent the entire hour trying to keep up with the youngsters at the front, and zero time actually enjoying myself. So it’s quite a blow to the self esteem when you realise that your biggest hurdle is not the bad back, the dodgy knees, the aching feet and neck, but, in fact, the memory!!!
I have now had 5 lessons and have effectively started from scratch each week as I cannot, for the life of me, recall what I learnt the week before. Somebody tell me that I am just overworked and my brain is full of important consultancy information, not that I am headed for early onset Alzheimer’s (which my mother had, so it could be on it’s way). Other than that, it is AMAZING having the opportunity to dance with a professional, one on one, with their undivided attention, and sometimes another professional looking on to give you tips “imagine you have a piece of tissue paper between your stomach and your partner, don’t let it slip…” (oh I can see why the curse of Strictly comes about now)!! So far I have practiced the waltz, the tango, the cha cha cha, the foxtrot and the jive, mainly with Chris who is tall so we do at least match height wise, if not ability wise. I have to categorically say that my favourite dance so far is the tango (must be my mean and moody side) and I hope I get to dance this in the main competition, but I won’t know what has been chosen for me until June… such a long way to go!
This is a photo of the team at last year’s Strictly Agents competition, Chris who I currently dance with is third from the right. They all look so great and were very accomplished. I just hope that I can do everybody as proud as last year’s competitors.
So now for the begging part – I am going to publish a weekly blog and promote this charity event to all of my industry colleagues. I am facing a challenge to keep the spirits high of my wonderful sister Jan, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer on New Years Day, while she was staying with me over the ‘festive’ period. It was such a terrible blow as we are very close, and I want to raise as much money as I possibly can because, whilst the money I raise from this event will go to Agents Giving, to use for all of the charities they help, many cancer research charities will benefit and every penny helps.
SO… If you want to sponsor me you can send me a little video (if you take it on your mobile try to do it landscape please) or just send me a ‘VOTE JANE’ picture and state which dance you would like to see me do (choose from TANGO, WALTZ, CHA CHA CHA, JIVE, RHUMBA, SAMBA, PASO DOBLE, QUICKSTEP OR FOXTROT) along with your name and company logo (if applicable) and I will give you a BIG ONLINE THANK YOU from my sister Jan and I!
EMAIL PHOTO / VIDEO / LOGO TO HALEE@JPGARDNER.COM