Editorial: As everyone at Wright Rhythm will have discovered, when you start to dance it has a habit of taking over your life. So when one of our star competitors, Carys, took her silver arts award (like the Duke of Edinburgh's but focused on taking part in arts) dancing was the obvious art to choose. In order to pass, Carys had to demonstrate knowledge, ability and leadership in many aspects of her chosen art. Having covered leadership by helping out with the younger pupils at the school and knowledge by giving a fun and informative presentation to a group of non-dancers, she decided that the best way to demonstrate her ability would be to win the biggest competition of year - the IDTA Nationwide Ballroom and Latin American finals at Blackpool. This is the account of her quest that she submitted and which helped her pass the award...
Published Thursday July 16 2009, by Cathy Woods
Carys' Silver Arts Award
Arts Challenge Action Plan
At the end of the Bronze Arts Award, my final sentence was "and next year I want to win!"...
My dream was to go to Blackpool and become the UK Champion in Ballroom or Latin dancing. This was the challenge I set for myself this year.
Last year I came 4th in Latin and 6th in Ballroom. I knew that even though I was working hard, the other people in the event were too. Everyone goes to Blackpool to win.
My plan started last August/September when I started to focus my training on the qualifications in November. To get to Blackpool, you have to qualify to get into the top 12 in the South-East. I have dance lessons every Tuesday from 4.30 pm to 7 pm. and on Thursday from 4.30 pm to 8 pm. In January, I decided to give up my Saturday drama class so I could dance then too.
The qualifications were on 16th November. The dances I had to do were restricted Waltz and Tango for Ballroom and restricted Rumba and Cha-cha-cha for Latin.
I was very nervous because if I didn't get into the top 12 I wouldn't be going to Blackpool so my dream would have ended here for this year.
I danced my best that day, I wanted to go to Blackpool soooo much!
We waited nervously for the results at the end of the day. I was really happy when they called my number but then felt really sad when I realised my friend Nichole hadn’t qualified. She danced really well and it was awful that she wasn’t going to dance at Blackpool.
I was very tired at the end of the day. I was excited for me and that I was a step nearer, but I still felt bad because of Nichole.
Preparation for Blackpool
Now the really hard work started!
I had to learn routines for all 5 ballroom dances and all 5 latin dances.
My teachers – Paula and Gilli made sure I got my technique correct.
I also had practice time with my partners, Kyle and Connor.
Each week I asked the teachers, Kyle and Connor to tell me exactly what I needed to do. I didn’t want them to be nice to me I wanted to get it right so I could win.
At home I practised in my room. I don’t know how many hours I did – lots and lots.
At last April arrived.
Blackpool Finals 4th & 5th April 2009
On Friday 3rd April, I had to take the day off school to go with my mum and dad up to Blackpool of the UK finals. We got stuck in traffic on the way but I was so excited and nervous I didn’t care!
We got to the hotel at about 5 pm. we had dinner. Afterwards my dance friends and I decided to go for a walk to the beach before the stressful days ahead.
On Saturday, I woke up at 7 am. I had been tanned the night before. My mum put my hair in a bun and we set off to Bec’s. Bec is a friend and she is brilliant at doing make-up. My mum made breakfast while Bec did my make-up.
Saturday is Latin day for the under 16, so I was dancing with Connor.
We had to be in the Empress ballroom by 8.30am ready to start. The waiting was nerve-racking.
Each round had two dances:
Round 1: Cha-cha-cha & Rumba
Round 2: Samba & Jive
Round 3: Paso doble & Rumba
Round 4: Cha-cha-cha & Jive
Semi final: Samba & Rumba
Final: All 5 dances
There were 75 girls competing in my event. They had got through their qualifications to get here too.
In the final I could hear everyone screaming for me and I couldn’t stop smiling.
When the results were being read out, I was so nervous and Connor was pacing up and down and told my mum he was really nervous and that he wanted me to win because I deserved it! He’s a great partner.
As they started with 6th place and kept going higher. My number hadn’t been called and my heart was beating faster and faster. Then finally there were just two numbers left and one of them was mine. Then they announced the 2nd place and it wasn’t mine! I HAD WON! Everyone around me screamed. I was the UK Latin Champion. Connor lifted me up and everyone started hugging me and a few people even cried!
This triumph made me even more determined to win on Sunday but I knew it would be hard because the others would now be out to beat me. The other thing is, it is very unusual to win both latin AND ballroom. I was going to have to focus hard.
Sunday started like Saturday, hair, breakfast and make-up. It was ballroom so I was dancing with Kyle. Yesterday he had also won so I felt good knowing I was dancing with the UK champion in his age group.
Again there were about 75 girls in my event. I danced two dances again up until the final.
Round 1: Waltz and Quickstep
Round 2: Tango and Viennese Waltz
Round 3: Foxtrot and Waltz
Round 4: Viennese Waltz and Quickstep
Semi-Final: Waltz and Tango
Final: All 5 dances
Again I had lots of support from the school and I enjoyed it even though I was more nervous than the day before.
Then finally it was time for the results. Because of the other days victory I wasn’t so bothered if I won. This was because people kept saying how hard it is to win both. I knew it would be tough so I didn’t expect much. To my shock and amazement I WON AGAIN!
Loads of people gave me huge hugs and cried. I was very pleased and proud but so shocked as most people are better at either ballroom or latin so to be UK Champion in both was astonishing!
The school did brilliantly too. We brought back 8 1st places (including my 2), and we had 22 finalists in total. This made us the most successful school in the South-East. One of the adults later said “if 1 person wins, they were brilliant. When 7 people win the teachers are brilliant!” I agree I couldn’t have done this without them and my fantastic partners.