Team GB couple sets sights on becoming the world's best ballroom dancers at Blackpool festival
Ruma Baker (14) and Christopher Buttle (15) only teamed up two years ago and are already making a mark on the national stages.
They have just been revealed as one of Great Britain’s couples for the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival at the seaside town’s famous Winter Gardens next month.
And they will wave the flag for their country again at The Open Worlds King Charles Coronation Cup at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom in May.
While most people’s knowledge of ballroom and Latin dancing extends only to Strictly Come Dancing, the teenage hopefuls admit they never even watch the show.
That might be because they’re putting in up to four hours of practice a day — as well as taking ballroom classes in Sheffield and travelling to London and Southampton to brush up on their Latin moves.
They’ve also crossed Europe to compete in tournaments — notably last month in Barcelona, where they became champions in the Junior Latin Five Dance section.
“I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” said Christopher, who said he had always wanted to make the national side.
Asked about her future targets, Ruma said: “When we get older, there is the International Ballroom Dancing Championships at the Royal Albert Hall. That is the biggest competition we could win.”
Ruma, of Wickersley, and Christopher, of Clifton, originally paired up in a dance class but now have ballroom lessons with instructor Scott Draper in Sheffield and travel down south weekly for Latin classes, as well as practising at a private studio.
Christopher’s mum Alison said the teenagers’ schools were supportive, giving them time off so they can travel — and noted how lucky it was they had hit it off so quickly.
“It just happened,” she said. “Christopher was without a partner in class and they were put together.”
Ruma’s mum Lisa said: “Some couples are spread quite far apart, but it feels like a lottery win to find someone just ten minutes up the road.”
They were picked for Team GB after shining in the British National Championships at the Winter Gardens last November and will head back there on April 11 to represent their country in the Latin section.
They hope to graduate from the under-19s categories to adult competition when Christopher turns 16 in the summer.
Lisa and Alison both say they are anything but “pushy parents”, insisting all the drive and ambition comes from their children.
Lisa said: “They push us! They just work so hard and they deserve everything they get.”
Ruma and Christopher admit they did have some pre-dance nerves, but their mums had a novel suggestion for overcoming such jitters — jumping around and messing about!
Lisa said: “They are like a pair of Duracell bunnies”, while Ruma admitted she liked to tap other dancers on the shoulder before running away!
The promising dancer said she loved dancing because it allowed her to “switch off, feeling the moment” and she really enjoyed the competitiveness, while Chris said he had got the bug from his sister.
Despite the inevitable rivalry, Ruma said the pair had made firm friends with many of their fellow competitors.
Asked to name their idols, Ruma and Christopher single out world Latin champions Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko.
While “Ruma and Chris” have some way to go before reaching those heights, they’re certainly on their way up the ladder.