11 amateur dancers went head to head in a bid to waltz, salsa and quick-step their way to the prestigious Dancing Strictly title, all in the name of a good cause.
The latest Dancing Strictly extravaganza took place in front of huge crowds at the Grammar School at Leeds across two back-to-back performances raising over £20,000 for local charities.
The individual dancers each teamed up with a professional partner and undertook an intensive three-month training period of dance masterclasses before the big event. On the day, which was hosted by Rebecca Skolnick and Alex Ullman, there were four chances to win, with a Judge’s Choice and Audience’s Choice award up for grabs in both the matinee and evening performances.
In the matinee, Rochelle Wilder and Adam Godfrey won the judge’s favour and Lyndsay Edge and David Adams proved audience favourites, while in the evening, the judge’s plumped for Will Maclaren and Victoria Coultas while the audience backed Michelle Ferguson and Ping Liem.
Away from the heat of the competition, the audience was treated to a show dance performance comprising a medley of songs from hit-musical The Greatest Showman. The band of budding local performers which included competitors from last year’s competition were taught their show-stopping moves by professional dancer Victoria Coultas.
Fresh from the international circuit, acclaimed husband and wife double act Abigail Stephan-Ramsay and Rahul Stephen gave a masterclass in moves, while young talents Sienna Goldman and Jude Nolan blew the audience away with a stunning ballroom rendition of Michael Bublé’s, Comin’ Home Baby and in the junior performance, the kids trained by Olivia Cho showed the grown-ups how it’s done.
Contestant Johnny Marshall, while going home empty handed, was delighted to have taken part: “I loved the learning experience and the camaraderie, but it was incredibly nerve-wracking to perform in front of friends and family. I would urge anyone to take themselves out of their comfort zone and learn a new skill, especially for such a wonderful charitable cause.
“I couldn’t dance a single step before the event, but my dance partner was full of admiration because I practiced every day on my own in Donisthorpe Hall – and it was only through sheer bloody-mindedness I managed to not make a fool of myself on the day.”
Despite securing solid sixes and sevens from the judges, Johnny is retiring the dancing shoes, opting to go out on a high: “I love the charity side of it, so I’ve joined the Dancing Strictly committee, but to many people’s relief, I won’t be dancing again!”
Contestants and Professionals
Alessandra Valle Metaxas and Adam Godfrey
Lauri Stateman and Assad Hussain
Emma Wisnia and Rahul Stephan
Johnny Marshall and Nicola Andrews
Will Maclaren and Victoria Coultas
Joey Gilman and Abigail Stephan-Ramsay
Carl Walsh and Olivia Choi
Michelle Ferguson and Ping Liem
Amanda Bradley and Patch Miller
Lyndsay Edge and David Adams
Rochelle Wilder and Adam Godfrey
Photos: Darren Scott