Strictly Come Dancing's JJ Chalmers has revealed he was mastering the Waltz with the help of a semi-professional dancer whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2011.
The 33-year-old former Royal Marine was being taught the footwork for his brother's wedding by fellow marine and dance pro Cassidy Little before they were caught up in a devastating bomb explosion.
"Basically I said: 'Mate, any chance in this downtime you can teach me how to Waltz because it would be amazing if I could come back and impress my girlfriend, my now-wife, with these out-of-nowhere dance moves'," JJ told Good Housekeeping and others ahead of the show's launch. "So the two of us, shorts on, middle of nowhere, 40-degree heat, started learning the moves."
In a "matter of weeks" however, JJ sustained severe injuries in a blast whilst searching a suspected bomb-making factory, during which he lost two fingers and shattered his right elbow. Cassidy lost one of his legs.
"But [Little] would go on to win The People's Strictly Come Dancing, doing the most incredible Paso Doble, or the Casa Doble as he called it," JJ continued. "So I had a great dance teacher once but all I'll say is our training was cut short for obvious reasons."
Cassidy won The People's Strictly Come Dancing for Comic Relief which featured six inspirational members of the public competing in the BBC dance competition, alongside professional dancer Natalie Lowe.
Describing his own critical injuries, JJ recalled: "My arms essentially came off and they were stuck back on by incredible surgeons in the coming weeks and months — and years, for that matter. My face was crushed, my neck was broken, my eardrums were burst, pretty much everything had had some level of damage, but except for a couple of fingers, everything was still there."
When asked whether the Waltz will have extra special meaning if he's able to perform it on the show, the Invictus Games medallist replied: "Absolutely, it would. I've got a bit of posture starting and a bit of the one-two-three, but yeah the idea of that’s definitely something, that’s unfinished business."
And on dealing with the dance floor challenges and how far he'd like get in the competition, JJ added: "That's the amazing thing about this process, there are going to be things that I either struggle with. I very much doubt that I will be like Patrick Swayze and hold someone above my head because I can barely lift my arms above my head.
"But at the same time I am going to try, I am going to be sensible, I'm going to listen to my body. So I am hoping I go as far as I possibly can because I want to see the benefit of this."
Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC One from 17 October.
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