Camilla Dallerup had fame and heartbreak as a dancer on Strictly Come Dancing. She tells Gabrielle Fagan how coping led to a whole new way of life.
A broken romance played out under the the media spotlight is not something most people could turn into a life-changing positive.
But Camilla Dallerup, the former Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer, is clearly not most people.
Admittedly, back in 2004, when she split from her then dance partner and fellow Strictly professional, Brendan Cole, Dallerup reportedly said it was “shattering” - even feeling “nauseated” every time she heard the Strictly theme music.
It was hardly surprising, given the nature of the break-up; the couple’s eight-year relationship ended after high-profile rumours about a romance between Cole and his series partner, newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky - something Kaplinksy denied.
“The break-up was undoubtedly the most difficult period of my life,” says Danish-born Dallerup. “To go through that alone was bad enough, but also I was totally unprepared for having my private life played out in the papers.”
But Dallerup is not prone to hide away from difficulties.
“It took me three years to recover and heal fully from the break-up, but I had to fight back, and was greatly helped by hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming and positive thinking approaches.”
Turning to alternative therapies was an obvious decision for Dallerup, who first discovered their benefits back in her twenties, when she used acupuncture to relieve severe lower back pain. She’s had regular acupuncture treatments ever since, because “they definitely help to keep my mind and body in harmony”.
This wish for combined emotional and physical harmony is one of the reasons why, after winning the Strictly series in 2008 partnered with actor, Tom Chambers, Dallerup decided to qualify as a life coach.
“Having gone through that testing time in my personal life, I realised I could really help other people coping with all sorts of different experience by sharing what I’d learnt about dealing with difficult situations.
“So although I wouldn’t wish that time on my worst enemy, something good came out of it.”
A sense of peace has since emerged too.
“It all seems like a lifetime ago now. Brendan and I long ago healed our rift, and we’re friendly now - he has a lovely wife and child, and I’m very happily married too.”
Her husband, former Hollyoaks actor, Kevin Sacre, 35, wed in 2010 and he is, she says, “the perfect partner”.
“He’s always there for me when I need support. He’s romantic in so many ways, he will even do thoughtful things like bake my favourite cake treats for me and my friends.
“We work so well as a couple. He’s taught me how to relax and switch off from work, which I found difficult before and I bring him out of himself. It’s funny that when I first met him I thought ‘no way am I going out with an actor. I don’t want someone who kisses people on screen for a living!’.
But we just became such good friends and then one day he asked me out on a date, and the rest is history.”
Although she is approaching her milestone, 40th birthday, blonde and pretty Dallerup applies the same idea of ‘seeing what happens’ about having children too.
“We have left it up to fate. If it happens, it will be a lovely surprise, but if it doesn’t I will just think ‘well, we weren’t meant to have a child’. It won’t be the end of our world.
“At the moment, we’re able to travel together if our work commitments demand that and it’s lovely.”
‘If’ work commitments demand seems a bit unlikely, to be honest.
In addition to being a life coach, Dallerup is also a motivational speaker and fitness guru, she has a calendar of dance performances for events and concerts, she’s developing an acting career and has toured in the stage show, Calendar Girls and appeared in pantomime. On top of that, last year, she returned to Strictly - the series won by Abbey Clancy - to work on choreography.
Grinning, Dallerup, who has been dancing since the age of two, says her return was “fabulous - like life coming full circle. Being part of the series is like joining a family, she explains, and when you go back it’s as though you’ve never been away.
“Although I don’t perform as a dancer quite as much these days as I used to, I realised a few years ago that dancing will always be there at some level in my life. It’s a part of my make-up, and in my DNA if you like.
“I still think it was perfect timing to leave Strictly as a dancer when I did, though. The series is extremely time-consuming and demanding and if I hadn’t quit, I would never have been able to move into the new areas I’m now in.
Nowadays, I love the variety of my working life - no two days are the same - and in fact, I enjoy it all so much it doesn’t feel like work.”
Perhaps this love of life is why her 40th birthday isn’t filling her with any kind of dread.
The 39-year-old Dane, who has appeared on shows as divers as Blue Peter, The Underdog Show and Bill Bailey’s Birdwatching Bonanza, added she was looking forward to 40: “I think it’s going to be good to be that age. It feels very grown up and what’s nice at my time of life is when you’ve dealt with a lot of different situations in your life you have a library of experiences you can draw on to help you with future situations.
“I have lots of dreams and ambitions and there’s plenty of time to realise them, so I have nothing to complain about.”