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Dancing for exams

PUBLISHED: 14:26 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 July 2010

PENS, rulers, calculators and a packet of mints are must-haves for every GCSE student in the exam room.

But what about a sparkling pair of gold heels and a stunning dance dress?

Well, they are exactly the essentials that Norfolk's very own Strictly Come Dancing princess Steph Humphrey needs as she becomes the first student in the country to take ballroom dancing as part of PE at GCSE.

PENS, rulers, calculators and a packet of mints are must-haves for every GCSE student in the exam room.

But what about a sparkling pair of gold heels and a stunning dance dress?

Well, they are exactly the essentials that Norfolk's very own Strictly Come Dancing princess Steph Humphrey needs as she becomes the first student in the country to take ballroom dancing as part of PE at GCSE.

The 16-year-old - who attends Dereham Northgate High School - is hoping to take a big (and quick) step to creating her very own piece of history.

And Steph, of Shipdham, who only started learning dances such as the cha cha, rumba and fox trot last November, is set to play her part in ensuring the current ballroom craze continues.

The BBC's smash-hit series Strictly Come Dancing has brought the jive and samba into millions of our living rooms every Saturday night and persuaded countless Britons to try the quick step.

Steph remains very modest about the prospect of setting a new trend - and lets her feet do the talking.

She said her trailblazing exam choice had been a natural move for her.

“I had to choose two practical subjects for my PE exam - so I picked ballroom dancing and netball. Lots of my friends opted for modern dance - but I was happier doing ballroom.

Steph said: “It turned out that I was the first student in the country to choose ballroom dancing as an option. My teacher checked it out and found out it was fine for me to do even though nobody else had done it before. A lot of people are amazed that I am doing it and are a bit surprised.”

It is left to her dance partner and boyfriend Simon Densham, 17, and her charismatic dance tutor Xavier Navarre to wax lyrical about Steph.

Simon, who attends Dereham Sixth Form College, is not dancing for an exam but needs to be at his best to help Steph to impress the judges.

“She is fantastic and has really grown in confidence,” he said. “It did not cross our minds about her being the first to do it for GCSE and it was more about the love of what we are doing.”

Mr Navarre, who now lives in Swaffham and has taught and judged all over the world, said: “Steph and Simon have only been coming since November and have got themselves to bronze level. It is extraordinary to have got to the stage they have.”

He added: “I spoke to the president of the International Dance Teachers Association, Keith Holmes, and they have never done one of these and they want me to report back.

“I think it is superb. Doing a GCSE is another wonderful lift for dancing. For a 16-year-old to decide she wants to do ballroom dancing is really exciting. She has created a precedent.”

Mr Naverre, 61, a former motor mechanic, has been teaching since 1976 and specialises in ballroom and Latin American dances, and was himself just 13 when he first started.

“I was being told I was a sissy for dancing but the other boys were playing football and rugby with other boys and I got to go out with a lot of cute girls. And I was called the sissy. It did not make any sense to me!”

On Tuesday Steph and Simon were judged doing the quick step by an independent moderator and Steph will get her final result when her GCSEs are out in August.

Last Thursday night the dazzling duo gave a sneak preview of their routine to fellow members of Xavier's dance class at Dereham Leisure Centre - who were hugely impressed.

For details of Mr Navarre's dance classes ring 01760 336410. Websites: www.xadance.co.uk or www.tangojax.

com

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