Strictly Come Dancing: Does real-life romance and connection improve dancing?

Strictly: How does chemistry impact dancing

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton won Strictly Come Dancing 2018 (BBC)
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton won Strictly Come Dancing 2018 and romance then blossomed following the show (BBC)

We all want to know: what is the secret to a star performing well on Strictly Come Dancing? Can having a real-life romance or close connection with their partner improve their dancing ability?

Dr Jill Rose Jacobs - professor of dancing - said dancing does bring people closer together. She told Yahoo: "You’re vulnerable, up close and personable and it's ultimately taking a risk with somebody and embracing that vulnerability."

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of excitement this series over whether former Coronation Street star Ellie Leach was dating Vito Coppola. The couple have been really impressing judges with their chemistry on the ballroom dance floor and their moves.

However this week the actor shutdown the speculation of love blossoming off-screen but instead she said they have an incredible friendship.

Connection and chemistry

Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola have built up a close friendship on Strictly Come Dancing (BBC)
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola have built up a close friendship on Strictly Come Dancing (BBC)

Dancing expert Dr Jacobs revealed it is not necessarily a romantic spark that improves the dancing.

However, the dance professor said those who go the distance on the show certainly become closely connected with one another which adds to their chemistry on the dance floor.

"Strictly is a club," she explained. "They know what the other one is going through, they know what it's like and it is gruelling. They have to perform and be vulnerable in front of millions of people and there are few people that can relate to that.

"They're in a bubble for the amount of weeks of the show. They respect each other because this is absolutely gruelling from the minute they start. Everything's at stake for them."

Of the pros and celebrities bonding over dancing, she added: "They're spending a lot of time together, they're vulnerable, they're finding out how the other person ticks.

"I think we all respect another human being when we start to really understand what makes that person tick. And so that closeness definitely builds a bond."

How falling in love happens on Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 dance
The bonds people build on Strictly Come Dancing are often for life (BBC)

But it is no secret that romance and sexual desire can easily blossom on Strictly and Dr Jacobs has lifted the lid on how this happens.

She explained: "When you're talking about a show, like Strictly, what I can tell you from my professional upbringing as a dancer is part of what we're trained to do is partnering.

"Partnering is dancing with a partner and we are trained to do lifts and everything. It means something very different to a professional dancer than it means to a celebrity who is on a dance show. If somebody touches them the way that way they interpret it as intimate.

"Whereas a trained dancer interprets it as 'he's got me in a good place or he doesn't' or 'he's got a good hold of me and I'm secure for this lift or I'm not'.

"Trained dancers are not going, 'Oh, my God, he's touched the inside of my thigh. I think I'm turned on.'"

Real-life romance improves dance storytelling

Annabel Croft dancing the Couple's Choice with Johannes Radebe
Annabel Croft dancing the Couple's Choice with Johannes Radebe (BBC)

Real-life romance and connection can help the storytelling and emotions when dancing though, the dance expert ruled.

Annabel Croft put on an emotional performance with Johannes Radebe for their Couple’s Choice dance that captured her love story with her late husband Mel, who died earlier this year in May after a battle with cancer.

For their Couple’s Choice in week 7, Croft and Jojo received an impressive score of: 8, 9, 9, 9.

By telling her real-life romance with her husband, the dance mastermind Dr Jacobs ruled the tennis star had a "breakthrough" with her performance.

Annabel Croft lost her husband this year. (Getty Images)
Annabel Croft lost her husband Mel this year (Getty Images)

The professor said: "Annabel had the physical ability to really excel in this competition. However, Annabel has completely missed the mark on emoting. She has not been able to connect her physical movement to storytelling. She hasn't been able to connect her emotions in it.

"Now, there is a difference between fitness and dance. Fitness, while there's a certain amount of psychology, is mainly the body stuff. Whereas the arts are storytelling and emotion, we want tell a story that connects to people. Dancing is an art.

"Until Annabel had a breakthrough when she told the love story about her husband. And what had happened? I cried watching her dance. We see a couple really being in love, we are living in that Hollywood moment with them. We are seeing that love story on the dance floor."

Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe put on an emotional show
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe put on an emotional show (BBC)

Jojo was Croft's husband's favourite professional dancer and now on the show, a heartwarming friendship has developed off-screen.

Recently Croft called Radebe an "angel" and she said that Strictly had brightened up her life. "It has come at such an incredibly difficult time in my life, a very dark time, but you have brought so much light to my life, honestly, you have been an angel, so thank you," she said as she turned to Radebe on Good Morning Britain.

Asked if having Strictly to throw herself into had helped in the wake of her loss, she replied: "Oh there is no question about it.

"I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t had Strictly Come Dancing at this period of time because it has been such a distraction away from terrible grief and you know, I had no concept of what grief was.

"So to be able to get up in the morning and to have a purpose rather than just sobbing at home, even though that still happens."

What is the link between love and dancing?

Dancing professional Dr Jacobs lifted the lid on the link between love and dancing.

She said: "For me, there is a link between dancing and euphoria. So, definitely, and then the emotional aspect of putting it to the music, there is a link between dancing and love.

"Of course, because I love dancing, everything that comes through dancing is love for me. Now again, it's a big question here because it depends, is it the physical touching?

"Is it the euphoria from the physical nature or is it respect and admiration that then gets translated into love?

"Or do we all basically want a love story? If we think about what movies are about and what entertainment is about, it's usually about love stories."

Strictly romances

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell's love blossomed after Strictly (BBC)
Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell's love blossomed after Strictly (BBC)

Throughout Strictly’s glittering years on TV, there have been many professional dancers and celebrities who have embarked in a real-life romance together and made the final of the show - some of them even winning the show.

Kevin Clifton and Stacey Dooley won Strictly in 2018 and have now started a family together, welcoming their baby Minnie into the world this year.

In the same series, Dianne Buswell and Joe Sugg made the final. After the show, Buswell and Sugg's romance has continued to bloom.

It hasn’t just been in the more recent series of the show, it goes way back in Strictly history.

In 2015, Georgia May Foote came runner-up with her partner Giovanni Pernice. Their connection was building over the show with one of their dances including a kiss on the live show.

Following their Strictly success, Foote and Pernice embarked on a real-life romance but it didn’t work out less than a year later.

These are just a few examples of many stars and professionals who have fallen for one another and had success on the show.

But the dancing expert ruled the romance blossomed because these stars as a result of fate.

Dr Jacobs said: "These are people who were meant to meet at a certain time, there's a certain amount of magic in life. We're not completely in charge of what happens to us. There's a certain kind of feeling in the way that I conduct my life, there's a certain kind of right place, right time."

Strictly returns this weekend to Blackpool's iconic Tower Ballroom on BBC

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