Sunday, March 16, 2014

INTERVIEW. 'I like people to dance beautifully', says Craig Revel Horwood, judge on Strictly Come Dancing on BBC Entertainment.

The 11th season of the British Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC Entertainment (DStv 120) on Sundays at 19:19 and recently I spoke with one of the charismatic judges, Craig Revel Horwood whose been with the dancing floor format show since the very first series.

I asked him about his recent hip operation he underwent in October, and Craig Revel Horwood told me why dancing is an "adventure". He reveals what he thinks Strictly Come Dancing has meant for the world so far, that he has paddles for scoring from 1 to 10 and that he likes using from 1 to 10 - and what the true beauty of the show is.

What do you enjoy the most about being a part of Strictly Come Dancing?
What I enjoy the most is the dancing obviously because I come from a dance background. I started and trained as a dancer for 15 years professionally and then I became a director and choreographer and that's how I then became a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

That of course was 11 series ago which is absolutely incredible. When we first started the series Len Goodman  -who is head judge - and myself, really gave it three weeks. And how wrong we were. This has gone on to literally 49 countries worldwide now and is the most produced television show format in the world. Its in the Guinness Book of World Records for that very reason. Incredible.

The enjoyment not only I get but I think the audience, is incredible.It has changed the hearts and minds of certainly this nation and nations all around the world.

Dance is one of those things that humanity finds necessary. You can go back thousands of years and people were dancing. So Strictly Come Dancing has brought a bit of that dance passion back to the world.

It has changed my life considerably and it certainly changed the life of many people in the audience due to the fact that they're now inspired to want to go and learn to dance. It has become a trend. Its amazing. And every years I get more and more enjoyment out of it.

Craig it actually leads me into my next question. We see your version, we just saw a new South African season of Strictly Come Dancing. We see the American version. 
How do you think the awareness of dancing has changed and is there a particular dance style that people are more exposed or more willing to try?
The world has taken dance to its heart most definitely because of Strictly Come Dancing. It shows people that you can have two left feet and can still do 30 seconds of great dancing. We've had some terrible, terrible dancers on the show with the celebrities that people love to watch.

That in itself inspires normal people at home who've never done it to want to get up and try it. My favourite dance I suppose has to be the tango because its a little bit more improvised than the ballroom. It also is a close contact hold and also has fantastic music.

Of course music plays an enormous part in people's lives. If you want to dance as well its just a wonderful thing to do. You get fantastic exercise which is great for your heart and health and you're also having fun. I think that's why people have gone on to learn and dance.

Most people I speak to in the streets absolutely love the show and have started dancing because of it. So that can only be a good thing.

Are there parts of the show that - I mean from a viewer's perspective its all glitz and glam - that's actually deceptively more difficult in real life to produce?
Strictly Come Dancing has taught many nations the rules and regulations of dance. That in a waltz you have three steps. And that the timing is in three four. So people have learnt all of that. So I think That is significant in itself.

I really think the beauty of this particular programme is that people can consider a life of dance. And you don't have to be a good dancer to do it. Yes, its a lot more involved, obviously, that the viewer may realise, but it shouldn't put anyone off from learning.

The celebrities who come on the show haven't dance before. We've had boxers, we've had people who are famous for running or rugby players who have never danced before, but you can see their journey from beginning to end. You can see them learn and the enjoyment they get out of it.

And after three weeks most of the celebs can pull a routine together and put the one foot in front of the other, which is amazing.

Obviously we've had people, like politicians, who many people said just polished the floor with their backside, which is amusing and great fun. Anybody who is willing can do it. If you can walk you can dance. Its just a matter of timing which people sometimes find difficult.

Dance is an adventure because you don't have to get it right all the time and you can put a bit of self expression into it. You're telling a story, you're having a great time.

I wanted to ask you  - last year my dad had a hip replacement - and I think you had one very recently but were almost back on your feet the next day, which is out of the ordinary. Do you have any advice from your personal experience for other people going through that?
The thing to do is, number one, have it done and not be scared to have it done because it will change your life.

Not to be nervous about it because hip replacements - so many people have it done, they do so many a day. Don't put it off. That's why I had mine done. You have to look after yourself. Because I'm a professional dancer, of course I have a lot more at stake.

So they wanted me on my feet as soon as possible. So I literally had the operation and two hours after the operation I was standing. And then 5 hours after the operation I was doing exercises. It is an incredible procedure. Its a huge operation but its nothing to be nervous about. And it will change your life.

I'm walking without anything, doing hydrotherapy. Its the muscle which is the difficult thing to repair and which is why it takes up to 6 weeks to repair but of course I've got to dance so I have to make sure all the muscles are strong.

You have to treat yourself professionally and treat yourself like a sports person in order to keep it there and keep it solid. I'm very lucky to have an amazing surgeon and an incredible team behind me supporting me and that includes friends and family. Its the best thing I could have done in my life.

I see a Doctor Who poster behind you on the wall, and forgive me, I know its not your show, but I want to ask are you a fan of Doctor Who which we also see here in South Africa on BBC Entertainment?
Doctor Who! I don't watch Doctor Who but I used to watch it as a child. I remember one Doctor Who and that is Tom Baker. Its amazing that the show has a 50th anniversary and ratings are soaring and there are millions and million and millions of Doctor Who fans out there.

Do you have a second voice, or have you by now switched that off, when you have to hand out your criticism? Is there a second voice that keeps you back of harshness or level of praise? How do you decide how far and how honest and how truthful you can be?
Scoring is really important. I have paddles ranging from 1 to 10 and I like using from 1 to 10.

Some judges only like using between 6 and 10 who will remain nameless ... Len Goodman.

Ha ha ha.

I find it very easy to see what's wrong with a dance. I think its very important that the celebrity knows what's wrong in order that they can fix it for the next week.

I think it would be terrible to tell someone they're fantastic and not be honest with them and tell the truth.

Otherwise they will go away and repeat the same mistakes over and over again. I generally go on about the hands because I don't like nasty, spastulistic hands.

Ha ha.

I like them to be shaped. I like people to dance beautifully. And in order to dance beautifully you need to know what's wrong with you. Like any teacher, if you go to a dance school, the teacher will not be saying "oh that's wonderful" because you will never work as a professional dancer if you're not pushed and you have to be corrected.

I think of them as just directions. Obviously, some celebrities take that personally. Usually the actors and actresses because they're highly emotional.

Sports people take correction in a proper professional fashion and they take that idea of what what is wrong with their dancing and they usually fix it the following week and then you see improvement.

That's the only reason why I'm so critical I suppose. Do I have two voices? Yes. But one is a judge voice and one is me as a person. If I'm out and about with celebs I'm not going to be judging them. But I put a judge's hat on when I judge and that is the critical one.

And then when I'm at the BBC bar I'm as lovely ...

Ha ha ha.

... and as nice a person as you will ever meet. All loving, all giving, all embracing. Because when I am judging I think its important to be honest and to give them a mark out of 10 that they deserve.

Craig, I know exactly what you mean and you say it so succinctly. 
Thank you so very much for your time.

Strictly Come Dancing UK XI is on Sundays on BBC Entertainment (DStv 120) at 19:19