Mercer & Hole Tax Director, Jacqui Gudgion took part in Celebrity Just Dance 2017 on 18 November at Arena MK. The event, held in the style of Strictly Come Dancing, was held in support of MK Dons Sport and Education Trust. Here is Jacqui’s account of the event and her experience:
The Celebrity JustDance experience was not just a night, of course. Back in the summer I was asked if I would like to take part in this amazing charity event and put together a short submission as to what I could bring to it. I consulted friends and family for their views and concluded that although it seemed like a huge challenge, I should push myself out of my comfort zone and support Mk Dons SET as it approached its 10 year anniversary. My submission was written and a few weeks later I received confirmation that I was in!
Roll forward nine weeks later after learning my samba and waltz plus a freestyle dance, the big day arrived. Dress fittings, spray tan, and hours of practice all done, the event started with makeup at Milton Keynes College at 10.30am. Looking glamourous (my words, I have no third party verification on that one) and tanned (that is a definite – I looked as though I had spent two weeks on a beach in Mexico) I made my way to the MK Arena and in the dressing room behind the scenes the nerves started to kick in.
Full dress rehearsal started around 2.30pm after a bit of last minute dance practice. This was it. We would be walking down Strictly-style stairs, being judged by a panel of four, and performing in front of friends, work colleagues and family. Dresses were donned, hair scraped back, gelled and hair sprayed, running order lists posted everywhere and the 7.30pm start approached.
Poised in my Samba dress, I heard my name called as I gripped the rails behind the stage at the top of the stairs. No backing out now! I had never done anything like this, unless you count the school play when I was 10. Oh how scary, knowing that although I could not see faces specifically, I had four tables of supporters out there in the huge crowd watching me. My legs went to jelly as I walked out on to the stage waving and performing a twirl for the audience. Introductions complete, we all then paraded off stage to prepare ourselves for our first dance. A small brandy was imbibed to calm the nerves.
My first dance was the Samba. On I went to the dark stage, where it became apparent that my dress was not only a replica of a car wash brush (see pictures) but was also glow in the dark fluorescent! Still, great to make an impression. The dance was one minute and 30 seconds long – or in my mind, the blink of an eye and then it was over. Correct steps, correct arms all interspersed with incorrect steps and incorrect arms; but it turns out no-one in the audience knew any different – phew! Richard Arnold thought seeing me dance reminded him of why he came back year after year as a judge. I am not sure if that meant I embodied the spirit of the event or he had never seen anything so amusing…but I kept smiling!
Back stage was a whirlwind of extra practice, last minute dress creation, people jumping in and out of outfits and a general buzz of excitement and anxiety all mixed together. The Waltz and freestyle dance also went in a flash and the whole thing was over. I was even told that I looked elegant as I waltzed around the stage. I was left standing in my monkey outfit from the freestyle for the finale (no pictures of that, I need to keep some dignity, definitely not elegant)! What an amazing night.
I managed to achieve my key objective – not falling off the stage. I have raised funds for MK Dons SET and improved my fitness no end. I have also now done something way out of my experience and comfort zone and feel very proud of having achieved some reasonable marks (somewhere in the middle of the leader board), as well as making it from one end of the event to the other.
Thank you to everyone who supported me, who showed an interest in my journey from practice through to performance and who donated to the charitable cause this was all for. If you ever get the chance to do something you cannot imagine being able to do – go for it!
If you would like to support Jacqui’s fundraising efforts for MK Dons SET, please use the link – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jacqui-gudgion