Haverhill dancer Grace waltzes into a top four finish at national competition
Talented schoolgirl Grace Claydon-Smith wowed the judges so much at a recent national dance competition that she was ranked the fourth best ballroom dancer in the country.
The 11-year-old Samuel Ward Academy student waltzed her way through three heats to make it to the ballroom final in the Under-12s Social Dance Test category in the Grand Finals at the world-famous Blackpool Winter Gardens, where she ended up fourth.
Grace, who lives in Bellings Road in Haverhill, has been dancing since she was six and has qualified every year to dance at the Grand Finals but despite regularly reaching the semis she has never been one of the six dancers to compete in the final - until now.
To top it all, she achieved her best ever result performing the waltz, the first dance she ever learned and one that she admits she loves.
“In the years before I have always got into the semi-finals and have not got as far as this, so this was my first time in the final”, said Grace.
“I’m really proud of myself and really happy. It’s a bit of a shock when you hear your name being called.
“It’s just so overwhelming really.
“Once you collect your trophy the judges speak to you and they said ‘well done, you have done great and you deserved to come here’.
“I do love Latin because it’s really showy and you get to really perform but I do love the waltz because it was the first dance I learned. It really means something.”
Grace’s dancing partner in the final was Claire Thompson, her instructor at The Studio in Flint Cross, where she had been dancing for two-and-half-years.
But It wasn’t just in ballroom dancing that Grace impressed.
Along with her dance partner Harriet Bridges, from Chevington, she reached the semi-finals in the couples competition - in which 76 pairs danced - in both Latin and ballroom.
Grace also made it into the semi-finals of the sequence dancing competition, in which all the children had to complete three set dances.