Cha-cha your way to Strictly MK

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Steps should be taken first with the ball of the foot making contact with the floor, and then with the heel lowering when the weight is fully transferred. When weight is released from a foot, the heel should release first, allowing the toe to maintain contact with the floor, writes Citizen Editor Olga Norford.

Got it? That’s how to dance the cha-cha-cha, or simply cha-cha, the name of a dance of Cuban origin and one of the dances chosen for couples taking part in Strictly MK.

Like anything the professionals make it look easy. The reality is very different so for me, and the other ‘celebrity’ dancers, it was off to a beginners’ class to learn the basics.

When I signed on the dotted line months back in February Strictly MK was months away so no need to worry or panic - still plenty of time to become acquainted with my Strictly partner and the ballroom.

But these things have a habit of suddenly dropping on you like a bombshell. So on Thursday the hour had come. On one the hottest day in a decade. Time for my first lesson and introduction to ballroom dancing.

To say I was a bit nervous as I entered the hall at the Guild House in Bedford was a understatement. The room was full of people with superbly sculptured physiques – dancing. Very well.

My Strictly partner Chris Cooper was going through a new routine with his official dance partner Davina. They had just competed in a professional dance championships in Bournemouth and naturally looked pretty polished along with the other dancers jiving around the dance floor. It was very intimidating as I wondered for the umpteenth time why I had agreed to do Strictly and, what my Strictly partner had let himself in for.

Fellow celebrity dancer Gail Emms and mayor Brian White had also arrived by this time so thankfully I was able to relax and felt a little less conspicuous before the moment of truth.

Taking to the dance floor.

Chris talked me through what we would be doing which sounded fairly straightforward – expect that once you’ve gone through the steps you have to think about doing it time with the cha cha rhythm. Simples!

I always thought I had musicality but got a bit lost when trying to find the cha cha beat. Again, like many beginners thinking about it made it even more difficult. It was easier to rely on Chris and follow his lead. And he proved a very patient teacher.

After some run-throughs we began by walking through the steps and the start of what will become our Strictly cha cha routine. It was then on to stringing the moves together and starting to introduce some simple, hip, leg and foot movements in time to the music.

So far so good. We manage to get through the first part of the dance without too many obvious errors on my part – though the arms could do with a ittle work!

But this is just the beginning and I’m glad to have survived and come out the other end - not quite twinkle toes but not making a complete idiot of myself.

Dancing is hot work in nearly 40 degrees of heat. And, as first warned, compromising your personal space is one of the first things you sacrifice..

Quite honestly getting up close and personal with your dance partner is soon put to the back of your mind as you realise you’ve just got to concentrate on what your doing – to keep on dancing.

It’s a relief to get lesson one out of the way.

Strictly on to lesson number 2.

Strictly MK will be held on October 26 and raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and Willen Hospice.

Tickets are now available from the box office at www.strictlymk.co.uk Alternatively contact StrictlyMK via email: accursio@strictlymk.co.uk or lindsey@strictlymk.co.uk or telephone 01525 222114.