Not being one of the six couples who had to dance on last Sunday’s live show made the day a bit less stressful, although just sitting stage-side and watching the other contestants had me sweating as I realised how good they were compared to my first performance the week before.
hen you’re given a new dance at the start of the week, you think you have plenty of time to learn it but all of a sudden, that time is up, it’s Saturday and you’re in the studio for dress rehearsal so this week I wanted to up my work-rate as much as I could.
Karen and I have been pushing pretty hard this week, doing more hours than usual – to the point that my usual spins on the bike were completely cut out and I only got one run and one workout in between dancing all week. But if that’s what it takes to stay here then I’m more than willing to do that.
As we were doing the waltz this week, Karen presented me with a new dance partner earlier in the week to teach me to keep my elbows high and in line while stretching my neck…a two litre bottle of water.
I spent a long time dancing with the bottle, using the weight and length of the full bottle to remind me to keep my shoulders back, my elbows up, focus on my neck and where to look, rather than be carried around the floor by Karen. The idea was that, after I got used to that, it would be a bit easier to get into frame with Karen.
We always warm up in sections, sometimes starting with the beginning of the dance, sometimes another section, often dancing without the music at first to get the steps and the rhythm of the dance.
Then we maybe do it twice to the music back-to-back and have a quick break to talk over any issues and try to fix them.
Sometimes what I find the most difficult though, is not the steps themselves, it’s getting them right to the music. Karen’s boyfriend Jake Carter, who was a contestant on the show previously, has been trying to help me with that whenever he’s around but it’s still taking time for me. Karen also gives me homework each evening, a couple of steps to practice at home so that they are ‘perfect’, or at least a lot better, the next day.
The cameras come in during the week to do some interviews and shoot some clips which can also be a distraction but after all our work during the week, I was slightly more confident going into tonight’s live show than I was last week.
I love the choreography of the waltz. I love the song we had and it’s probably a bit more me than the jive was last week but at the same time, I knew if didn’t get the performance right it wouldn’t look good.
Video of the Day
As we were slotted in for dress rehearsals around the same time yesterday, I got to sit and have lunch with Grainne Seoige and Neil Delamere. After comparing war stories from each other’s dances, we had a nice chat, with the lifting of restrictions one of the main topics of conversation.
While restrictions have affected my career over the last two years with races being cancelled or postponed, I still had a job I loved doing and I still got paid. For somebody like Neil, and lots of others whose whole livelihood is based around being able to perform in front of a live audience, the last two years have been pretty tough, so it was no surprise that he was in great humour yesterday and hopefully now he and everyone else in the entertainment industry will be able to get back to doing what they love again soon.
Rather than the physicality of the dancing this week, I found the mental fatigue of trying to constantly learn new things, remember them and then implement them on the go, very tiring. I didn’t even want to watch the other contestants dancing too much in rehearsals yesterday as it was bad enough trying to focus on my own stuff without getting distracted looking at other people’s dances.
I remember Irish Moto GP rider Eugene Laverty telling me a few years ago that his heart rate went up to around 160/165 bpm on the start line of a Moto GP race, just from the adrenalin.
I’ve never experienced that on the start line of a bike race before but I think my heart rate must have been around 150bpm as we began dress rehearsals yesterday. Although I knew I was much more prepared for the waltz than I was for the jive, and it’s a much slower dance, the fact that I knew I could be going home tonight if I messed it up made it very stressful.
When I finished the routine yesterday, my legs were shaking even though there was nobody watching. It was just from the nerves, the fear of messing up and leaving the show.
Karen kept telling me not to be afraid, to fight the demons that told me I was going to make a fool of myself. She’s always saying “You look so nervous…you have to show people that you’re enjoying it. Let it out. Let it go!” Maybe we should have danced to the theme tune from Frozen to remind me!
I looked back at the videos of the rehearsals before tonight’s live show and it looked like I was petrified. I think it’s because I’m so concentrated on the steps, the rhythm, my arms, my neck, my shoulders, that while I am actually really enjoying the dance, when I watch it back it looks like I forgot to tell my face.
My brother Alexis took a couple of days off work and flew over to see me tonight with my cousin Erik and they brought my granny with them to the live show this evening.
With Covid, my granny hasn’t really been out much in the last couple of years so she was very excited. When she saw my suit, she said I looked like the next James Bond. I haven’t got to see her yet since but hopefully she loved the show. My only worry was that, with her in the audience rather than back home with her phone in her hand, I was probably down about 100 votes when it came to the voting.
When it was time for Karen and I to hit the floor tonight, I really didn’t want to mess up because I am loving the whole Dancing With She Stars experience. I’m enjoying being back in Ireland and I’m enjoying the whole show so I really want to make it last a little bit more.
In the end, the dance went okay and I think I managed to improve a bit on last week, although I realise I still have a long way to go. The nerves were still there and I know that I still need to cut myself loose a lot more, even though I feel like I already have.
When it came to revealing the votes and announcing who was going home however, it felt a bit like waiting in line to be executed. I could feel my heart rate increasing with every couple that was saved.
‘And the first couple through to next week are…Nina and Pasquale…’ Baboom!
‘Jordan and Salome…’ Baboom! Baboom!.
‘Ellen and Stephanie…’ Baboom! Baboom! Baboom!
‘Neil and Kylie…’ Baboom, Baboom, BABOOM, BABOOM!
‘Nicolas and Karen!”
We’re through to next week!
My heart was beating so loud I barely heard the words. I know the results were done randomly but if we were the eighth couple to be called I think my heart would have jumped out of my chest.
Even though I was safe to dance again next week, it was nerve wracking waiting to see who had been eliminated. Kathy and Maurizio were in our bubble on the show and they were the couple I spent the most time with so it was hard to see Kathy go and I’m sure everyone else felt the same.
There is a huge camaraderie amongst the contestants on the show. Even though we are all competing against each other, none of us are here to beat each other or see someone else eliminated.
Everybody encourages each other and we give each other a little pat on the back or a tap on the shoulder or a few words of encouragement whenever we meet. We’re all here to get the best out of ourselves and show that we can do something different.
I’ve had so much support from friends and family and the whole cycling community in Ireland and on social media since I’ve started Dancing With the Stars that it’s been incredible.
Two months ago I never thought I’d be capable of even doing what I’m doing now and I’m not nearly halfway there.
A heartfelt thanks to everybody who voted for me. I may not be the best dancer on the show but I’m here for another week anyway.
Next week is movie week. I’m hoping for a fairy tale rather than a horror show but if I can produce something that is watchable and people would like to see again, I’ll take that.