Thursday 4 October 2012

Gymnast Come Dancing

Louis Smith takes to the floor

Just three weeks ago, the latest group of celebrities was announced for Strictly Come Dancing 2012. This year I was delighted to discover that two of my biggest passions, gymnastics and Strictly Come Dancing, were to be united thanks to three time Olympic medallist, GB gymnast Louis Smith.

Louis was partnered with professional dancer Flavia Cacace and given three weeks to prepare their first routine before the start of the series on Friday 5th October. During the launch show we were treated to our first glimpse of the partnerships as well as getting our first look at the celebrities prowess on the dance floor. Louis seemed oddly nervous throughout, something I was not expecting from the confident team captain of the Olympic Bronze medal winning gymnastics team. He nevertheless seemed pleased with his partner and Flavia seemed delighted to be teamed up with Louis. The celebrities then took to the floor in a group dance, giving us the first chance to see their moves. Louis looked more confident on the dancefloor than off, clearly enjoying performing to the audience - though it has been a while since Louis has performed on the floor! He wowed us with a back somersault during the routine, though Flavia informed us later that his gymnastics talent will not be seen all that often on the dance floor: "We're definitely going to use Louis' skills but he's here to learn to dance." With his competitive spirit already in evidence, his desire to win transferring easily from the pommel horse to the dance floor, Louis echoed Flavia's thoughts: "I'm sure we're going to incorporate some gymnastics somewhere along the series, but we want to go quite far just by doing dancing and see how far we can get."

With that in mind, training for the first dance began. The tweets soon started to come in from both Louis and Flavia, excited about the routine and the start of training, but the picture posted by Flavia just a few days in showed a rather different story!
The training video of Louis and Flavia's first steps thankfully painted a better (and more active) picture! Rehearsing for the Cha Cha Cha, the video from day one looked very promising. With loose hips and his body moving in very different ways to during a pommel routine, Louis looked to be taking it all in his stride. Although Louis felt that Flavia was being very patient with him on day one, she nevertheless seems to be pushing him to the limits: "The funny thing is, day one, and I think I've possibly broken Louis already!" Already? Surely not! But: "Back's quite sore, my knee, both heels, I've got an intercostal muscle which has kind of seized up a little bit on the right hand side, so yeah, I'm taking a bit of a pounding!" Oh dear Louis!

Hopefully Louis has managed to put his aches and pains to one side and keep up the training. With the live shows starting this weekend (Friday 5th October, 9pm, BBC1 and Saturday 6th October, 6.30pm, BBC1) all the celebrities will be taking to the floor for their first dance. Although they will be scored by the judges (scary enough prospect!) there will be no elimination in week one. It will simply be a chance to see everyone in action - and sort the good dancers from the, er, not quite so good! Voting will be starting in week two - can anyone guess who I will be voting for?

Good luck Louis and Flavia!