Quite  simply - Strictly Brilliant

Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals

Birmingham Hippodrome 


After many a TV show and tour spent carting lethargic celebs around the dance floor, the Strictly Come Dancing professionals were finally let loose on the aptly named ' Strictly Dancing The Professionals Tour' at the Birmingham Hippodrome. 

Of course, with the absence of the celebs, follows the absence of the judges. But the disappointment was short-lived, as video clips of the judges were interspersed throughout the night - providing both comedy and information on each dance, as well as the more practical logistic of some changing time for the dancers.  

The night was a mixture between couple and group dances and each one provided a real treat. The choreography managed to negotiate the dynamics of the stage, no mean feat, given the normal dance floor dimensions to which their talents are honed.  


Adding to the electric atmosphere was the live band - which gave a real depth to the routines. 

With virtually all the major dances covered it was merely a case of waiting for your favourite - mine was the lindy hop which, during a trio of Jive and swing was the culmination of a brilliant 1st half.  

Each performer had their part to play, introducing dances and also performing little pieces to the audience. The highlight was Vincent, a charming mix of self deprecating arrogance and Italian charm, a welcome contrast to the slickness of the dancing.  

But it was on the dance floor that each couple had their chance to shine - Vincent and Flavia with their superb Argentine Tangos, James and Ola with their Cha Cha Cha and Ian and Natalie with their Viennese Waltz were the standout performances, with the two other couples, Brian and Kristina and Matt and Aliona also putting in great displays.  

That they manage to keep going at such a pace with their performances of 2 x 45 minutes is testament to their fitness levels - and if you weren't sure of said levels then the skimpy costumes leave you in no doubt. They are not just performers, they are also athletes.  

If you love Strictly you'll love this. And even if you're not a massive fan, the skill and atmosphere of the show will win you over. The tour is at the Hippodrome until May 8th and I'd recommend that you grab a partner and buy a ticket, you won't regret it. To  08-05-10.

Theo Clarke


Second steps


THIS show is strictly fabulous! The professional stars from the hit BBC TV series have come together on stage in a spectacular combination of glamour and style that is simply breathtaking.

Technical problems led to a 20-minute delay in the start of the opening night performance, but it was worth waiting for as James and Ola Jordan, Brian Fortuna and Kristina Rihanoff, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, Matthew Cutler and Aliona Vilani, and Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe turned on the style.

If you think the girls were gorgeous on telly they are even better in the flesh. And the costumes are stunning, too.

Oh, and those controversial judges were not present. Well they were, but only on screen for the occasional amusing pearl of wisdom from Len Goodman, Craig Revel-Horwood and Bruno Tonioli.

Nor were the 'celebrity' dancers on stage, though former World Leightweight boxing champion Joe Calzaghe sat right behind me in the stalls and I swear I could feel his hot breath on my neck whenever his Russian-born TV partner Kristina Rihanoff was dancing.

Joe told me it was the first time he had seen the show, and he clearly enjoyed it as much as the large audience.

All the dances from the waltz to the Argentine tango, and the quickstep to jive and rock 'n' toll were given the special treatment, while singers Ricardo Afonso, Lance Ellington, Jenna Lee James and Ria Jones made an important contribution.

Directed by Karen Bruce, SCD runs to Saturday night 08.05.10

Paul Marston

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