UEA Dancesport hosted their seventh Strictly UEA, which saw their ‘professional’ members team up with ‘celebrities’ from various sport clubs in the hope of winning the prestigious Glitter Ball Trophy. The event was held at the LCR and boasted glitz and glamour from start to finish.

The panel of judges included Christopher Freakes, Strictly UEA’s 2017 winner, Shaun Taylor, President of UEA Tap Dance, Gurdas Sually Singh, former president of UEA Dancesport and founder of Strictly UEA and Rachel Tomes, previous UEA Sports executive.

First to take to the dancefloor was Connor Grant (Men’s Hockey) and Maisie Ma performing the Waltz.

Christopher commented on their performance, saying: “The steps could have been a bit smoother, but apart from that I’m really impressed”. The judges awarded the couple six points each, giving them a total of 24.

Natalie Jones (Fencing) and Philip Leadbitter performed the Viennese Waltz – a form of ballroom dance which is the original form of the waltz.

Rachel noted they “covered the floor well and kept in time” and added that their togetherness was “amazing”. Natalie and Philip received a total of 30 points.

UEA Strictly revealed their first same-sex couple: Raeven Headlam (Squash) and Iayesha Mullins. Their song choice was appropriate as they danced the Samba to Run the World (Girls) by Beyoncé, exciting the crowd with their sassy moves. The judges awarded the girls 35 points.

Rhys Barton (Tennis) and Bethan Cuningham were the second couple to dance the Viennese Waltz. Shaun was particularly complimentary to Rhys, commenting: “You can’t tell that you hadn’t danced before.” Rhys and Bethan earnt an impressive 35 points, tying with current leaders Raeven and Iayesha.

Shannon Kemp (Baseball and Softball) and Jamie Taylor wowed the crowd and judges with their passionate Quickstep performance. Christopher praised the couple’s effort by saying they “made a story out of the song, which I don’t think we’ve seen so far this evening”. The flawless performance earnt a well-deserved 40 points, ensuring their place in the final.

The last couple of the night was India Gilmore (Women’s Rugby) and Daniel Peters dancing the Jive. Unfortunately, Daniel managed to break his arm prior to the event, but he persevered and delivered a fun-filled performance.

Rachel stated it was her “equal most favourite performance of the night”, while Christopher added, “if I could give you an 11 I would”. India and Daniel were awarded 40 points, guaranteeing them a spot in the final.

The finalists battling it out for the Glitter Ball included: Raeven Headlam and Iayesha Mullins, Rhys Barton and Bethan Cuningham, Shannon Kemp and Jamie Taylor, India Gilmore and Daniel Peters. The winning couple was India Gilmore and Daniel Peters who earnt the most cheers from the audience with their complicated and energetic routine.

Rhys, the Social Secretary for UEA Tennis, shared his thoughts on being the only male ‘celebrity’ to make it to the final four. “At the beginning it was fair to say that my dancing was far more Waterfront than Waltz! But with incredible patience from my fantastic partner it turned out to be a massive success and a thoroughly enjoyable process.”

Rachel commented on the success of UEA Strictly, saying: “There was a very high quality of dancing at this year’s Strictly UEA all thanks to the months of hard work put in by our incredible dancers. This coupled with the amazing atmosphere from the audience and smooth running from the backstage help, resulted in a highly entertaining and successful evening. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved!”

The other couples who competed in UEA Strictly were: Alex Stapleton (Archery) and Eli Gaydova, Oli Gray (Surf) and Hannah Jones, Edward Capstick (Touch Rugby) and Hannah Evans, Peter Harvey (Sub Aqua) and Marwa Ramsi, Oksana Shlonimskaya (Pole Fitness) and Cameron Wilson, Charlie Matthews (Men’s Rugby) and Rachel Holmes.