Jane Williams was inspired by her experience at last year’s Salisbury Does Strictly charity fundraiser to take up dancing seriously, and has gone (in the course of a year) from a social dancer to winning at ProAm events. She tells Wiltshire Life:
“My story starts in Oct 2017 on a pretty average day at work. Our Chief Executive was leaving on that day. We had always got on pretty well so I popped along to his leaving do to say goodbye. During that leaving do he gave a speech offering some advice. He said "make sure you take opportunities when they arise even if they scare you". I remember thinking - I wonder what kind of opportunities he means.
That evening I saw an advert online to take part in Salisbury Does Strictly. I'd done a bit of ballroom dancing in the past but mainly socially. I was just getting back into it after a gap of around four years while working away in London but I'd always thought I’d like to give it more focus and maybe try a competition. When I saw the advert I thought - this is what he meant - this was my opportunity to take part in my first competition while also raising money for charity. I managed to persuade my partner Darren to do it with me and we signed up that night.”
A few weeks later, they went to meet the rest of the competitors:
“Jackie and her team welcomed everyone and we went through a few basic steps. We soon realised we were all in the same boat, and had a very funny morning getting to know everyone and falling over our own feet. On that day, social media links were made that we would use over the following weeks to share our stories, compare our sponsorship activities and discuss such things as fake tans, two left feet, aching muscles and forgetting steps. At this first meeting we were also introduced to Natalie Down who would teach us our Rumba routine. Over the next few weeks we worked with Natalie on the routine, rehearsing it over and over again to get it right.”
The day came.
“We arrived at the venue early to practice on the actual dance floor. This was a great opportunity to get over the shaky legs and once again catch up with our fellow competitors and share a cheeky bottle of wine for Dutch courage. Before we knew it guests had arrived, hair and make-up was done, dresses were on and it was time to perform. Kristina Rihanoff and Ian Waite - two of our four judges came and wished us luck and off we went.
One by one each couple walked out onto the stage and performed their Ballroom or Latin routine. We were the last on and as we stepped out we saw many of our friends in the audience cheering us on which was amazing. We performed our routine really well and achieved four 8s from the judges raising over £1,000 for charity and contributing to the £18,000 total. We then danced the night away with the whole team and our friends. It really was an amazing experience which I will remember forever.
However, that wasn’t the end of the story for me. I'd got through my first competition and loved it. While training for Salisbury Does Strictly I had got in contact with Vibez Dance School in Reading who train competitive dancers and had started lessons. Three months later I entered my first medallist competition. I came last but that didn't stop me. Over the next year I dedicated all of my spare time (and money) to dancing - training, hiring halls, taking hair and make up classes, buying sparkly dresses and shoes - slowly getting better and better results in competitions. In June this year I entered my first ProAm competition. I made it through several rounds to win my ballroom event and come third in Latin. For me it was the best day ever and I am still on cloud 9 about it.
Therefore I would like to finish this part of my story by thanking my Chief Executive for his words, Jackie and Natalie for the opportunity to take part in Salisbury Does Strictly as well as my amazing teachers at Vibez Dance - Richard Still, Morgan Hemphill and Jonathan Salmon who have helped me to achieve my dreams. You really never know where opportunities will take you if you are brave enough to take them! For me it’s back to the dance studio to train for my next competition in July, with a new sparkly dress of course!”
You can sign up for this year’s Salisbury Does Strictly in aid of Salisbury Hospice Charity as competitor or audience member here: https://bit.ly/2OfpgEK