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Behind the Sequins: My Life

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Although Shirley is incredibly proud and confident in her ability as a dancer, teacher and judge, she seems far more insecure about decisions she made in her personal life. I thought at times that Shirley was too critical of herself. She had an extremely successful career and was happy to pass on her knowledge and skills to anyone who shared her love of dancing. Her home was always open to aspiring dancers and although she worked away for weeks at a time, she managed to maintain a close relationship with her mother, brother and son. In her book Behind the Sequins we get to read a real rags to riches story about a young working class girl growing up on a rough council estate and manages to change her life through dance. I defy anyone to read Behind the Sequins and not be moved by Shirley Ballas’ story and also be in awe of her durability in a world where everything is fast moving and trends come and go. Class – which is what Ballas oozes – lasts forever.

In Behind the Sequins, Queen of Latin and Head Judge on Strictly Come Dancing, Shirley Ballas, leads us through her dramatic and determined life, from growing up on a rough estate on the Wirral and leaving home at 14 years old, to conquering the high-octane world of Ballroom and coping with betrayal, bullying, two broken marriages and a personal tragedy that left Shirley and her family devastated," it read.When it comes to ballroom, she really knows it inside and out. I loved that each chapter began with a description of the different dance styles and the stories behind them. It’s incredible to learn she is both a skilled dancer and teacher too and that she can be both male and female roles in dance. It goes on to explain how the book charts Shirley's career spanning more than 40 years, which has seen her go from a travelling competitive dancer to a coach and teacher. I’ve always been a fan of Strictly Come Dancing and was intrigued to know more about head judge Shirley Ballas. Always had dancing in my heart. Came to it late, only starting at aged 11 with the usual Tap, modern and ballet. Always wanted to try the more contemporary dance and after being in Shirley’s company for the past four days, I wish there’d have been the right classes in my home town at the time. I won’t spend this review commenting on the writing style or skill, as we all know what to expect from a celebrity autobiography and truly, we aren’t here for the syntax or poetry!

The life of professional ballroom can seem like a whole other world to outsiders, but Shirley has lifted the red rope to allow her readers and insight into this both dazzling and incredibly tough life. Shirley Ballas further won my approval when a family friend – an elderly lady in her 80s – was struggling to climb down some steps at Lime Street Station. Shirley Ballas saw her and helped her, linked her arm and made sure that my friend got to the place she needed to get to safely. So besides being a great judge, dancer, choreographer and teacher she also proved herself to be a pretty decent human being too. It is for this and many other reasons that I will forever be a fan.I had no idea what I was really doing, but that I was now set on a path I couldn’t do anything about. With every dance step of our routine, I knew I was taking one more step away from everything I knew, and that I was giving up something indescribably precious. What I found most inspiring is how she has uprooted and restarted her life so many times, beginning at aged just 14 when she moved out to pursue dance. It is clearly her life long motivation and she has been willing to give up homes and relationships to chase it. She has been both the heartbreaker and the heartbroken, but it’s admirable to see how she has stayed connected to those from the beginning of her journey.

This is a fascinating account which is honest and insightful. It is well written and shows how hard a successful dancer has to work in a harsh, male dominated industry. Shirley’s personal life features heavily along with family tragedy, broken marriages and global travel. I especially loved Shirley’s mother, an extremely strong lady who devoted herself to her family. What I will say is that Shirley Ballas has lived a tough life, achieving everything she has dreamed of, but not without fight, grit or determination. She has graced every ballroom worth dancing in and she has lifted all the trophies she set her eyes on, but she has also experience hardship, betrayal and heartbreak. Shirley Ballas is the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, but was little known before her debut. However, she has been a professional dance champion, specialising in Latin, since her early 20’s, having started dance as just a child. Speaking from the heart, Shirley leaves her dancing shoes at the door to tell you the story of a fiery, strong-willed grafter, who danced through everything life threw at her and was never afraid to leave it all on the floor." Shirley Ballas Behind the Sequins: When's it out?There’s no doubting the talent of this lady and what must have been a certain bloody mindedness to achieve all that she has, staying seemingly grounded and that must be applauded! My admiration has peaked at a time when her stardom is opening even more “celebrity” doors. I only hope she remains the kind hearted, loving woman she’s been allowed to become as life blossoms for her.

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