PUBLISHED: 15:03 17 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 20 February 2013
Happily married dance partners and stars of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, Kent residents Ola and James Jordan chat about Dirty Dancing, dream partners and the secret to their strong showbiz marriage
When 27-year-old Ola first came to the UK 10 years ago to become James Jordans dance partner, she didnt speak English. I never had formal lessons, she says. I remember sitting in the car and crying with the frustration of not being able to communicate. I learnt from speaking to James. It took me six months to pick up the language. I tell Ola how lucky she is to have me, James laughs. We were dance partners for a year before we got together and she basically wore me down!
I quickly realise that James has an infectious sense of humour which immediately puts me at ease. The 31-year-old married Ola in 2003 and they launched a very successful professional dance partnership, coming third in the 2006 British Championships for Professional Latin, ranking them among the top 12 Latin dancers in the world.
People assumed that it was Olas gorgeous looks that attracted me, but it was her dancing, he says. I just saw this raw talent. I tried out 50 dance partners before I found Ola.
Developing a relationship through dance sounds incredibly romantic and I cant resist saying so. I ask them if jealously is ever a problem, particularly in light of some of the revealing outfits that Ola is well known for wearing on Strictly Come Dancing.
I design most of them and I tell her to bring them home with her! James tells me. It helps a lot that we are in this together, we understand this is play acting, its not real and so we dont get jealous. If I was married to someone who didnt understand dance, then it might be different. Its James who gives me the confidence to wear those outfits and I always ask him for his opinion first, Ola adds. If he likes it, even if bits are hanging off, then Ill wear it if he thinks I look good. When Im out privately,
I dont like standing out from the crowd. I generally dress down.
Its impossible to imagine Ola Jordan being introverted. She has virtually become the poster girl for the glamorous female dancers on Strictly and is arguably more famous now than some of her celebrity partners.However, I was warned by her manager that shes not always comfortable doing interviews, so I wasnt sure what to expect. But shes warm, chatty and extremely determined.
When youre young, youre focused on your ambition, she says. Youre going for that goal. But as you get older, you start missing family more. You realise that youre probably never going back home. But I love living in Kent. Its lovely with its beautiful countryside. Were spending Christmas here this year with Jamess sister.
James, who was born in Gillingham and grew up in the Medway area, shares his wifes love of the county. Im a Kent boy through and through and my family still live here, he says. Its peaceful and I like the space, so I wouldnt move.
Prior to working on Strictly, the couple left the professional dance scene for four years to teach Latin American dancing in Hong Kong.
It was the only place where you could get decent money for teaching dance to all the rich ladies, James says. The money just wasnt in the UK dance scene then.
Flashes of the late Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing float into my mind as I imagine James being fawned on by wealthy women, drawn to a handsome dance instructor. I suggest this to Ola and its clear that Im not alone in likening her husband to Swazye.
I think James is a bit like him actually! she says. I had tears in my eyes when Swayze died. He was so macho and he was my first crush. I was very young when I first saw Dirty Dancing, but it made me fall in love with dancing.
I ask James if it was ever difficult being a male dancer, before shows like Strictly catapulted the profession into the mainstream.
When I was at school, rather than be intimidated, I would stand up for myself when people said anything negative about my career, he tells me. Until Strictly, ballroom dancing was so misunderstood.
People dont realise how incredibly tough and athletic professional dancing is. We all work hard on this show. You have to be incredibly fit. Ive met boxers and footballers who have said its one of the hardest things theyve ever done.
James is naturally flirtatious and so it doesnt surprise me when he tells me that the opportunity to work with beautiful women drew him to the industry. I worked out that the better I got, the hotter the women got that I could dance with! he chuckles. His celebrity partner in the current series, actress, Zoe Lucker, sadly left the show in week seven, but James thinks very highly of her natural talent. She doesnt realise how good she is, shes been a fantastic partner and I cant believe the great comments she got week after week. It shocks me a bit as shes never had formal dance training. It just comes from somewhere inside.
Ola is equally enthusiastic about her partner, BBC presenter and journalist, Chris Hollins, who is a former pupil of Tonbridge School. Chris is not a natural showman, hes actually very shy. But I know what hes capable of doing.
I wonder if competitiveness ever affects their relationship.Im the most competitive person in the world, James says immediately. Id love to hold up the Strictly trophy. But it would make me even happier to see Ola win.
Ola doesnt seem fazed by the pressure of working on one of the UKs biggest TV shows. Its not changed us as a couple. We have such a strong relationship. It just works, she says.
I think the secret to a happy marriage is letting your partner do what he wants. I would never stand in Jamess way. He loves playing golf with his friends and I love shopping in Bluewater, so we give each other space!
When asked about their dream celebrity partners, James says teasingly that Jessica Alba would be nice. Ola tells me that she met Peter Andre the other day and thought he would be a fun partner and brilliant on the show. It might make James jealous, too! she adds.
I could chat to Ola and James all day but their manager will kill me for stealing more than my allotted slot in their terrifyingly busy BBC schedule.
If you want the opportunity to meet them, theyre organising a Christmas ball on 23 December at the Kings Hill Golf Club, following great feedback from their 2008 ball. James excitedly tells me theyll have plenty of time to mingle.
Their lucky guests will be treated to a fantastic evening of dinner and dance, with an exclusive performance by the pair.
As Ola says, they just dont stop and thats perhaps what their fans
love about them.
For more details and to book tickets for Ola and Jamess Christmas Ball, please visit kent.greatbritishlife.co.uk and click on links.