Henley has it’s our own Strictly dancing rising star! Lucy Herbert, a pupil of Miles School of Dancing and Gillotts School recently won the ISTD National Grand Final in the Junior Social Dance Test category at the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
She took her first steps in Ballroom dancing at the age of 10 when Richard from Miles School of Dancing came to do a taster session at Valley Road School 5 years ago. Lucy’s Mum, Rachel a teacher at the school asked Richard to come along after her parents had gone along to one of the Richard’s classes at the Town Hall.
Lucy said, “I am a big fan of Strictly and even though those first steps were fairly basic, I still really liked it and Richard made it really fun in the after school classes.”
Lucy entered her first competition just before her 12th birthday in Cambridge, making it into the final, coming 5th. As well as entering competitions she has achieved ISTD dance exams with Distinction.
In the Grand Final, Lucy like all the other dancers, danced with her teacher, Richard and competed against 27 others in her category. Lucy was invited to enter the competition after winning 2 competitions in Fleet and Gosport in the previous months. Performing in a stunning black/grey gem covered ballroom gown borrowed from Richard’s wife she danced two ballroom dances (Tango and Waltz) and two Latin dances (Cha-Cha and Jive). She commented, “The floor was really slippy. I get really nervous, and it’s very stressful and nerve wrecking, but I love the adrenalin and the buzz and I’m very competitive. A few weeks before Richard said I was making progress and the Tango finally clicked.”
Preparation for a competition not only includes hours of training and practising every week. Lucy has to do performance make-up which she’s learnt through watching YouTube videos, gets a spray tan and her Mum, Rachel does her hair. Rachel said, “Luckily I’ve been doing lots of different hairstyles since Lucy was little and so I style her hair. I was am so proud of her particularly because of the dedication she has shown over the last year, practising and doing lessons on line from home. She’s done extremely well in a short period of time.”
Richard said, “Lucy just loves dancing you can see it in her face. In the last 2 years, she’s improved immensely and she’s worked really hard in lockdown. She has a real passion for dance. It’s a shame we couldn’t go to Blackpool last year as I thought she had a real chance then. I’m immensely proud of her to realise her potential. Not only is a super talented kid but she’s really love one too. It is not often you get graced with teaching someone who so talented.”
On hearing her number being announced as the winner, Lucy enthused, “I was completely in shock, then there was relief and happiness and lots of happy tears from everyone including my Mum, Grandparents and my dancing friend Faith.”
What’s next for Lucy? She’ll move up a category as she’s now won in the Social Dance category and in a year’s time when she turns 16 she’ll move up to the Adult class. She’s already enjoying being an assistant at Richard’s adult and children’s classes and she hopes that she’ll be able to continue her shared passion of dancing with her other sport, hockey. She’s in the first team of Henley Women’s Hockey.
Miles School of Dancing holds children’s, beginners up to advanced classes each week at Henley Town Hall. For more information go to https://www.milesschoolofdancing.co.uk/classes