Strictly in all its sparkling glory headed back to York Barbican yesterday evening (Wednesday) with its outstanding annual Professional tour.
This tour was a hit for any Strictly super-fan like myself, and included phenomenal dance numbers, emotional monologues and storytelling.
It was an opportunity to leave the celebrities and their ‘L Plates’ at the door and put the focus on an exceptional group of individuals and their first-class dancing.
The cast was full of our familiar favourites: Dianne Buswell; Karen Hauer; Neil Jones; Gorka Marquez and Luba Mushtuk – well-established Strictly stars who still brought passion in abundance to the stage.
However, it was the new faces who took their place in the spotlight: Vito Coppola; Carlos Gu; Jowita Przystal; Nikita Kuzmin and Nancy Xu – whilst some may have joined the TV programme as early as 2019, this was their first experience of joining The Professionals tour and, wow was it worth the wait!
Altogether the superb cast brought us masterpiece after masterpiece and even threw in some scripted (and unscripted) comedy along the way, with Buswell and Jones being on particular top form.
The performance brought us the usual fire and drama of the Tango, the sweetness of the Waltz and the sexiness of a Salsa – every genre was performed with ease.
However, it was how these were performed that makes creative director Jason Gilkison a genius! Who would have thought a battle between Beyonce and Barry Manilow would be a must watch? Or an 80s megamix be the perfect way to end the show and raise the audience to their feet? Not me, yet they were personal highlights!
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There were also some beautiful tributes made throughout the evening. Whether it be Disney’s 100 year anniversary honoured with several themed dances, or the professionals’ personal storytelling about their families and childhood – it brought a sense of calm to an otherwise non-stop show.
And it would be impossible for the show to pass without a dedication to the late Len Goodman, with the most beautiful number to ‘You’re the Voice’, which was performed on the latest series by Sam Ryder. There was an emotional silence as the song concluded before the well deserved eruption of applause.
This tour would not be possible without the creatives and crew on and off the stage; Tara McDonald and Patrick Smyth led the way as the singers for this tour, and showed such diverse capabilities from Destiny’s Child’s hits to doing the perfect voice of Zazu from The Lion King. They were accompanied by Jeff Leach and his sensational band, who once again provided the musical accompaniment enabling the dances to come to life.
I feel privileged to have shared a room with 10 of the world’s best professional dancers – the countdown to Strictly 2023 is well and truly on!
To see more upcoming events at York Barbican, visit their website here.