From prairie princess to Dancing Queen

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On week three of "Dancing with the Stars," which aired Oct. 8, 10 dance couples remained vying for the chance to be crowned champion, as some performed the jive and others danced the tango. Jane Seymour and her dance partner Tony Dovolani performed the tango and made it to week four. The couple made it week five after dancing a Viennese waltz on Monday's show. Photo: ABC/Carol Kaelson

Jane Seymour is showing the world once again why she is a woman of many talents. The actress/author/painter/designer, who is perhaps best known as Wild West medicine woman Dr. Quinn, has been stepping out as Hollywood’s hottest hoofer on the hit ABC show “Dancing with the Stars.”

Growing up in Middlesex, England, Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg wanted to dance at an early age and longed to be a prima ballerina. She would provide regular performances for her dance-loving mom, Mieke, at their family home. But while in her teens, back and knee injuries would put an end to her hopes of becoming a professional dancer. She went on to become a popular television and film actress, enchanting many with her role in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and such films like “Somewhere in Time,” which she starred in with good friend, the late Christopher Reeve.

Flash forward to today, Seymour was asked to tune up her twinkle toes for a turn on television’s wildly popular “Dancing with the Stars.” Even though the British version, “Strictly Come Dancing,” was mom’s favorite show, the 56-year-old star’s first reaction was no way.

“I hadn’t even thought about dancing for 40 years,” she told The Malibu Times.

But despite physical limitations, including a fused spine, Seymour decided to take a chance. One step at a time, she put in the hours, adhered to a rigorous training schedule and learned some incredibly complex moves. With instructor/partner Tony Dovolani, she took to the stage and held her own on two difficult foxtrot and mambo routines.

As the oldest female contestant in the show’s five-season history, Seymour was off to an impressive start. But her future with the show was thrown into doubt when she received the tragic news of her mother’s death following a stroke two weeks ago. Instead of attending the results show, Seymour was flying home to London to attend a funeral. Her fans wondered whether she would return. But return she did.

“Oh my god, it was the hardest week of my life in so many respects,” Seymour said. “I was devastated because I lost my mom. Then I got on an airplane and learned the tango in two and a half days with jet lag in the middle of the night.”

Tucking her long mane into a dark bobbed wig and decked out in a revealing black and red lace gown, Seymour looked the part, but was she ready? Holding back tears, she told the judges this performance would be for her mom, Mieke.

“I know my mom wants me to do this. I think she would be very proud of me for persevering,” Seymour said before her performance. “Tony and I are dedicating this particular tango to my mother and I’m going to dance it with all the passion and pride that I have in my mom and that she had in me.”

The rest was a blur.

“I saw the dress. I saw the wig. I wasn’t even there. I couldn’t remember the dance. They were talking about my mom. I was on the verge of tears and I made this little prayer and said ‘Mom I did this for you,'” she recalled.

Seymour’s performance blew the judges away and the panel delivered scores of nine all around.

“The judges loved it. People were crying. I was in shock,” she said. “It’s pretty bizarre when the saddest thing in your life and the happiest thing in your life happen at the same time.”

For someone who has accomplished so much, it’s surprising to hear Seymour describe her experience with “Dancing with the Stars” as “one of the highlights of my entire life.” She said she has lost nearly 20 pounds working on the dance routines, feels amazing and is doing things with her back that were once unthinkable. What’s more, she’s proving to be a twisting, trucking, two-stepping inspiration for others with back issues as well as women over the age of 40.

This week, Seymour strove for a repeat performance when she danced a Viennese waltz on Monday. “I will be putting my heart and soul into it and when I perform it,” Seymour said prior to the dance. “It will be on my mom’s 93rd birthday. I am sincerely counting on her showing up again.”

And she did. Seymour and Dolovani made it to week five.