One Night at Strictly
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
Saturday afternoon saw John and I set off as guests of our lovely nephew Kevin Clifton to Elstree studios to visit Strictly. It is particularly exciting to have production guest tickets as your seat is assigned and you get to spend time in the green room hanging out with the celebrities, pro dancers and their guests. Having your seat assigned is such a privilege as when people win tickets in the draw they are not guaranteed a seat. The people in the front row often queue overnight for those seats. Last Friday evening was rainy and some people had queued since 8.30 on Friday evening. It shows how much people want to get in to see the show.
We left early (around noon) to eat before we arrived as it is suggested that you have a substantial meal before arriving. We did our best! We received our wrist bands and made our way to the Green Room ( a marquee with a bar). On the way John told me how a green room got its name. Entertainers often say “See you on the Green” which means “See you on stage”. It has its roots in cockney rhyming slang greengage/stage. This is shortened to “the green and its accompanying green room for resting”.
We were invited into the studio at around 5pm and were treated to Stuart the warm up guy, a brilliant expert in warm up, getting the right balance of excitement fun and professionalism. The pre-records for the big group numbers for Saturday and Sunday were done and then on with the show. Several standing ovations and performances later we left the studio at 10.30. The standard of dance was fantastic.
It is all very emotional and immediate. The nerves of each of the celebrities is palpable and you realise just what it takes to get them ready for the show. One fantastic thing about being in the audience is experiencing the professionalism of the whole team that makes up Strictly. Everyone works so hard.
It does all make you think about the amount of training that has gone on in the week. Kevin professed to feeling exhausted. Their training days start at 8am and often finish at 10.30 at night. For a dancer training an hour a week that is about a year’s training in a week!
The most common way of training appears to be steps on Monday so the foot patterns are sound; Technique on Tuesday; Action and rhythm on Wednesdays; Performance skill on Thursday, Rehearsals in the studio on Friday and the show on Saturday. Also to fit in the available time are costume fittings, hair and make up, tan and interviews, and video to take. All in all they need to have superhuman endurance to get to a fabulous performance.
This week they have two dances to learn! You have to respect that commitment.
As professionals in our own studios we have less of the performance to develop at speed. However we often work in the same way. Steps first and technique second. We have more time to make the learning fun and the environment is not pressured. Most of the pressure comes from our students themselves in their own journeys to improve. At the end of the day our students face their own huge challenges and they often dance with a partner who has the same amount of experience in dance as them creating double trouble!
So learning to dance in the public eye on Strictly is both extremely challenging and rewarding and so it is in a different way for our very own students. Let’s not loose sight though of the goal: The ability to feel something emotionally when we dance and very possibly to be able to show others what we feel when we dance.
Surely that is worth a bit of extra time and practice?