'Love it and you can't go wrong' Dancing on Ice star Vanessa Bauer shares her success secrets
Vanessa Bauer is one of the four competing pairs who have surged through to the last few rounds of ITV's Dancing On Ice. Partnered with X-Factor star Jake Quickenden, the German National Champion figure skater has also enjoyed the highest score each week of the series, raking in 38 – just two shy of full points – at the weekend. Here Mandy News talk to Vanessa about how she got started, what led to Dancing on Ice and what aspiring figure skaters can do to follow in her footsteps.
How did you get into skating specifically? What came first – dancing or skating?
I was only four years old when I started figure skating. I came to it just by accident because my dad took me to a public skating session just for fun when a skating coach discovered me in the crowd and immediately saw the potential in me.
Where did you learn that talent? Is there a school or classes you attended? What training did you do?
Everything started off as a fun hobby. A Russian coach wanted to teach me because she saw the talent in me.
Figure skating is a really expensive sport though and my parents had never been able to afford paying for my skating lessons. I was just really lucky that my coach wanted to teach me skating because she saw my potential. I then got accepted to an elite sports school for the best athletes in Germany. I went to boarding school, studying and training all day long.
As a professional figure skater, there is a lot more than only skating lessons. Ballet every day, athletics, running, acrobatics, all that is essential for being a great skater.
When I finished my competitor career I also started taking dance classes at 19.
What's a typical day for you in terms of learning a new routine?
When I create a new routine the first thing I do is listen to the song and when I say listen, I mean it. I feel the rhythm, count the beats, try to understand what the artist wants to tell us, read the lyrics and when I have completely analysed the song, I start literally just dancing in the room by myself.
Whenever a move comes naturally that I can fit in the choreography, I pause and repeat it and record it. I then start thinking about what tricks I can include into the routine that fit the feeling of the song and imply them in the number as well.
This is how a whole new routine starts building.
How much training is too much and how much is not enough? How many hours do you do a day?
I am naturally a very hard worker. I like to keep busy and always have something to do. I more and more understand that rest days and hours are just as important as those days in which you are super productive. I don't ever count the hours that I am working because to me enjoying myself, dancing to figure out a routine for example doesn't count as work.
I try always to have a full day off a week where I literally don't do anything to do with skating, fitness or even social media. One day to completely refuel yourself is so important to not ever burn out.
How much dancing off ice do you do for stability, conditioning etc?
Whenever I am not in a skating contract, I dance a lot more than I do anything else. Dancing and hiking is my favourite workout and I could honestly do it 10 hours a day when not skating !!!
How do you keep yourself injury free and what are your tips to somebody for cooling down and eating right for a working week?
My best teacher was my younger me, that was injured and burned out every day. I remember that when I was competing I never had a training day when something in my body didn't hurt.Now that I am my own coach, I know what my body needs in order to remain injury free.I always make sure to get lots of stretching and yoga !
One hour for cool down yoga or stretch is essential. I also love hot yoga. Whenever I get the chance I use the sauna it gives my muscles a chance to recover.
When it comes to eating, I love organic raw food.I am a firm believer in raw good quality food. I don't like to restrict myself and of course every now and again I enjoy ice cream.Every morning I never leave the house without having my porridge.
Obviously, there's added risk of injury when moving at such a speed – what are the trickiest moves and how do you master them?
Throw jumps are the trickiest for me because your partner is is throwing you so high and the girl has to land on one foot after 2-3 spins in the air
How did you become involved in Dancing on Ice?
I was skating in a ship on the Caribbean when one of my colleagues was advised to apply. I asked him for contact details and that's how it started. I could not come to England for live audition which is why I almost did not get the chance to introduce myself to the producers.
However luckily they decided to fly all the way to Florida to come and see me in person! I will be forever grateful for that decision!
How does it work when you're teaching somebody and, in essence leading, during rehearsal, but they've got to lead in the actual routine you're doing for Dancing on Ice?
Everybody is different when it comes to what kind of teacher I have to be. With some people I have to be stricter than others.
To me, mastering the basics to perfection is the most important part of the learning process. When the basics are right, everything else, the harder tricks and creating programs, are much easier to learn.
What are your tips for somebody who's maybe just starting out who wants to go into ice dancing?
I would say just find your love and passion for skating! Skating is such a beautiful way to stay fit. Be artistic and express yourself. Love it and you cant go wrong.
At the beginning, it's going to be really hard – especially if you start at a later age. Your feet will hurt from the hard boots, you will find yourself not being able to do moves that feel easy to you, but just keep going and once you see the results you will also discover the magic of skating.