It seems like only a few weeks ago that I was explaining that I had signed up to take part in Strictly Banbury 2018. Last weekend our hard work and training came to an end as we took to the stage to perform in a local theatre. A lot of effort went into this charity event from coordinating dancers and local heroes, dance training classes, organising the theatre and all of the backstage help, raffle prizes, trophies, judges and demos … the list goes on!
As this was a truly unique experience and has taken up the best part of 3 months, I wanted to share it with you. Be prepared for: #faketan #glitter #dresses #dancing & #trophies!
Supporting our charities
The reason why we all signed up to do this in the first place was to raise money for charity. We raised a combined total of £10,956.38 which is amazing! Broken down, we raised £7,961.63 for the 999 Services Benevolent Funds and £2,994.75 for Age UK.
Thank you to everyone who donated and supported us along the way. What a great team effort!
I remember the very first training session when we all huddled in the gym looking a bit nervous. In total there were 20 dancers and 20 local heroes who had little to no experience. We were partnered up based mainly on height and whether we could dance together. As you can imagine, if there’s a big height difference it’s a bit tricky to dance comfortably in hold!
With only 8 weeks of training we challenged our local heroes to learn the Samba (Latin) and American Smooth Foxtrot (ballroom) ready to compete during the show. Everyone picked up the steps pretty quickly meaning we could spend more time focusing on learning technique. The Samba is by no means an easy dance, especially for the guys, so a lot of time was spent looking at this specifically. Got to get the hip action right! It was tough but the unlimited supply of cake each week kept everyone motivated. In the weeks leading up to the show everyone put in some extra practices and classes and it the show as a whole was looking pretty good! With faketans booked (I’m pretty sure the men where more excited about this than the women when it came to it), nails ready and outfits sorted, we were almost ready for opening night…
We had 3 sell out shows across the weekend – Friday night, Saturday matinée and Saturday night so this in itself was pretty intense. At the same time, this allowed us to really enjoy the experience and perform more than once and when you spend so long training this is really important! It also gave us time to get used to performing and become comfortable in front of the audience and really go for it.
It worked in a similar way to BBC’s Strictly. There were 4 judges on the panel who scored both the Latin and Ballroom dances out of 10. The top 5 scoring couples were then called into the final to perform the Samba one last time. It was then left to the audience to vote for their favourite couple to win. However, so that we couldn’t guess which couples were going to make it into the final one round was blind. This meant that we only saw our scores for one of our dances and got comments on the second. This kept us waiting in anticipation to find out the results, and I can tell you that part was pretty nerve-racking!
In true showbiz style there was an opening number to get the crowd excited, our dance rounds but also demos from the juniors and professionals at Step-by-Step Dance School. This also allowed time for us to do quick changes and prepare for our next dance. You can imagine there were clothes, shoes, hairspray and make up everywhere you looked. By the time the Saturday evening show came around there was glitter EVERYWHERE.
Disclosure: Tammy even had the men queueing up for extra sparkles on their faces and outfits!
A few snaps from the performances….
Alongside learning the Samba and Foxtrot, we split into 4 groups to choreograph our own freestyle dance.
The themes were; Disney, James Bond, Musicals and Bollywood.
I love all of these themes but when I found out I was in ‘team Disney’ I was so excited (who wouldn’t be)? We bounced a lot of ideas around including The Little Mermaid (kind of restricting), Beauty and the Beast (we had difficulty finding the right costumes) and finally we landed on Aladdin! We had so much fun choreographing this dance together. We managed to get in the Quickstep, Charleston, Cha Cha and Rumba so it was quite technical but it definitely came together after some (quite a few) extra practices after work.
Even better, there was a prize up for grabs for the best group freestyle. Question is, who won?
In my eyes everyone was a winner. Everyone put their heart and soul into this show which you could see (once the nerves were out-of-the-way). Watching the local heroes grow from week 1, having never danced before, was amazing and proof that what I say about dancing is proven. Everyone can dance, it’s just about trying and enjoying it! However, as with every competition there is a final, and there are winners so here are those brilliant couples!
Friday 13 April – Evening
Louissa & Corey – 1st, Claire & Ryan – 2nd, Emma & Will – 3rd, Jess & Peter – 4th, Stacey & Connor – 5th. Group dance winners – The Punjabi Pensioners!
Saturday 14 April – Matinée
Lynn & Paul – 1st, Wendy & Graham – 2nd, Claire & Ryan – 3rd, Tammy & Stewart – 4th, David and Eira – 5th. Group dance winners – The Punjabi Pensioners!
Saturday 14 April – Evening
Jess & Peter – 1st (WE WONNNN!), Louissa & Corey – 2nd, Rachael & John – 3rd, Emma & Will – 4th, Emma & Duncan 5th. Group dance winners….
The Punjabi Pensioners! They got the hat-trick and it was so well deserved. The audience were up on their feet dancing and cheering which is what it is all about. Well done guys!
We also had a few special awards to give out…
Most improved went to Dom.
People’s choice went to John.
Most money raised went to Jo who raised over £1000!
The celebrations continued well into the night (or morning) with a well deserved after party for all involved! Everyone was absolutely buzzing from such a brilliant weekend, you couldn’t wipe the smile from any of us. It was such a brilliant experience made even better by the fantastic individuals who organised, volunteered and took part in the event. Next stop… DVD night to watch it all back and have a giggle I’m sure!
Do you want to learn to dance?
If you fancy getting involved in the next Strictly competition or this has inspired you to take up dance lessons (which I hope it has) then you can find out more on Step by Step Dance School’s website! http://www.stepbystepdance.co.uk/
If you’re not local to Oxfordshire or Northamptonshire then have a Google to find your nearest dance school!
P.s. more pictures and potentially videos coming soon!