Nine 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 raising money for Manchester Maccabi.
Dancing Strictly returned to Middleton Arena on 6th November for an extravagant evening of ballroom dance, generously sponsored by Beaverbrooks the Jewellers.
The Strictly stars for 2019 were Suzy Klepper, Michelle Basger, Charlotte Weisberg, Dena Lipman, Sandra Levin, Alan Barge, Anthony Reubens, Ian Cowan and Michael Sacks. Contestants teamed up with a professional partner and undertook an intensive training schedule of dance masterclasses before the big event with the help of Salford dance school, Topaz Dance.
On the night, which was hosted by Gabrielle Adlestone and Rob Levy, there were two chances to win, with a Judge’s Choice and Audience’s Choice award up for grabs. After a heated contest, Michelle Basger won the judge’s favour while Ian Cowan proved the audience favourite.
Commenting on the show’s success, Steph Wilks, events manager at Manchester Maccabi, said: “The event was a great success, raising just over £10,000 for the club. We are so grateful to this special group of people who put themselves out there to support us.”
Judge’s Choice winner, Michelle Basger, spoke of her journey to Strictly stardom: “You breathe, dream and talk your particular dance 24/7. Standing in queues, you suddenly start to do your footwork. On train carriages I’ve been seen to do the odd jive and twirl. It completely takes over your life. We all started the journey clueless dance novices, but as time marched on, confidence increased, friends were made and excitement bubbled up. It was truly wonderful and inspiring experience I would not have missed for the world.”
Contestant Dena Lipman said: “It was an amazing night for a fantastic cause. I’m thrilled to have taken part as a contestant although it was quite stressful learning and recalling all the steps and being in the spotlight. I lost a fair amount of sleep in the process, but I’m delighted to have learnt a new skill. My thanks go to the wonderfully supportive teams from Topaz and Maccabi – it was an experience never to be forgotten!”
Contestant Anthony Reubens added: “This was a fantastic experience, especially coming out of my comfort zone doing the jive. I was so determined not to mess up my routine and although I didn’t win, the judges thought my performance was good. I want to thank my partner Beth and dance teacher, Melissa from Topaz and also Jane Clynes and Steph Wilks for putting it all together.”
Looking ahead to 2020, Jane Clynes, event organiser, is keen to find the next Dancing Strictly stars: “I’d like to thank everybody involved both behind the scenes and on the stage – you all gave 100%. The feedback has been fantastic, so we’ll see what next year brings!
“If anyone would like to put themselves forward, we’d love to hear from you. It’s a fun way for the Manchester community to get involved in an extremely worthwhile fundraising project, even if you have two left feet!”