08/12/2018 13:32 GMT

'Strictly Come Dancing': Lauren Steadman Says AJ Pritchard Deserves More Credit For Accommodating Disability In Routines

Exclusive: "AJ really has gone above and beyond."

Lauren Steadman has claimed her ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ partner AJ Pritchard deserves more credit for accommodating her disability in their routines. 

The paralympian, who was born without a complete right arm, has told of how the pro dancer has worked extra hard to make her feel comfortable on the BBC ballroom show. 

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Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard

Speaking to HuffPost UK backstage at rehearsals for this weekend’s semi-final, Lauren said: “AJ really has gone above and beyond. I’ve not really felt in any of the dances that I can’t trust him to do certain things.

“We’ve gone for routines that have showcased me as a wannabe dancer, and that’s down to his choreography.

“I think he needs a little bit more credit for thinking outside of the box and dealing with me being high maintenance.”

AJ admitted the pair had come a cropper on a couple of occasions while rehearsing for their upcoming Tango on ‘Nutbush City Limits’ by Tina Turner on Saturday’s show, but had been determined to overcome the difficulties they had faced. 

He said: “Every week we do have to work harder. She’s going to laugh now, but we do armography steps and we do have to work harder on that and stretch a bit more. And the lifts, most of it is where I’m holding her body, so the balance is more on my side than her’s.

“At the end of the Tango, Lauren does this bit where she drops to the floor, and usually it’s usually a hand-held drop to the floor, but with this one, my two fingers have to hook the end of her arm, and if you miss it, you hit the floor.

“In the training room, it’s happened once or twice, but I’ve cushioned the blow, luckily.”

Lauren and AJ will be dancing the Tango on Saturday

He continued: “The great thing for me as a choreographer is it puts me outside of my comfort zone and makes me think outside of the box. It’s new challenges and I love a challenge.

“Lauren’s positive attitude of ‘we will find a way’ has motivated me.”

Lauren also spoke of how her appearance on ‘Strictly’ had been inspiring others with a similar disability to her. 

I have had some beautiful messages - from older generations, ladies who’ve lost their arms and have started going out without a prosthetic on because I’ve showed them how to do it,” she said. 

“My goal of coming on ‘Strictly’ was to inspire a nation and show there are no limits.”

AJ added: “It’s overwhelming the support this year. I’ve never seen support like it. I honestly think Lauren has normalised a situation and used the show for all the positive reasons.”

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ airs tonight at 6.35pm on BBC One. 

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