Training starts to prevent a dance disaster, darling

The first training session for the couples taking part in Strictly Florence, at the Alfred Rose Community Centre in Aylesbury
The first training session for the couples taking part in Strictly Florence, at the Alfred Rose Community Centre in Aylesbury

It is strictly down to business now for the 12 couples taking part in a dancing competition to raise money for Florence Nightingale Hospice.

Training is well under way ahead of the big night at the Waterside Theatre on Sunday October 6 – and the pressure is on as the judging panel includes Strictly Come Dancing’s “Mr Nasty” Craig Revel Horwood.

The contestants include Sarah Ovey , from Elmhurst Close, who said: “I am really enjoying training and getting my teeth into the cha-cha and tango dances.

“I have always done dancing of some description – whether it be ballet as a young child or salsa after university so it is good to get into the swing of it again.

“That said, I have never competed in dancing and I am very nervous about performing on stage especially in front of Craig Revel Horwood!”

Sarah’s dance partner, David Bonner, from Buckingham, said that he was looking forward to the performance element.

He said: “Having been involved in amateur dramatics I am really looking forward to performing on stage.

“The performance side of it appeals to me, but I know Sarah will be very nervous so I will do my best to help keep her calm beforehand.”

The judging panel for Strictly Florence also includes Scott Cole, brother of Brendan, who is a professional dancer on the hit BBC TV series.

He said: “As judges we will be looking for the contestants to go out there and give it their best.

“Although experience will probably give you a bit of an advantage, the key elements for us will be looking at how well the pairs work together and also their timing.”

As a former dance champion and a professional ballroom dancer, Scott also had some advice for people 
interesting in taking up dancing.

He said: “It is very hard to learn initially, it’s almost like learning a new language, so perseverance and practice is the key.”

Scott added he was looking forward to working alongside Craig Revel Horwood again.

He said: “Craig is a very nice guy off-screen and I look forward to having lots of banter and arguments with him on the judging panel!”

He also had a final message for the contestants.

He said: “I would like to wish everybody the very best of luck ahead of the competition.

“I hope they all really enjoy this opportunity and make the most of their chance to shine.”

Rob Stobart from Aylesbury is also taking part on the night.

He said: “Training is really fun at the moment. It is nice to do some different dancing to what I’m used to.

“I used to do ballroom dancing and my partner Sandra used to do salsa.

“It means we do at least have the advantage of some dancing experience.”

Meanwhile, Joanna Beardsmore-Dilks, who also lives in the town, is the nearest any of the contestants have got to being ‘on’ Strictly.

She said: “As a big fan of the Strictly TV show this is a dream come true for me.

“The idea of performing on stage in front of people is a bit nervewracking at the moment, but it is an amazing opportunity and one I couldn’t turn down.”

She revealed she was involved in filming the 10-second clips which air before the show.

She said: “I was very lucky to be chosen as one of 500 people to dance in front of BBC Television Centre for the programme’s ident.

“I have applied several times for a seat in the audience and have never been successful so that is as close as I have got to any sort of involvement in the show itself.”