Strictly Quarter-Finals 2010 – Why we need to wave goodbye to Widdecombe

The results show for the Strictly Come Dancing quarter-finals will be aired tonight, when Pamela Stephenson, Ann Widdecombe, Kara Tointon, Matt Baker, Gavin Henson and Scott Maslen will wait under those nerve-wracking spotlights to hear if they will be participating in the 2010 semi-final – where the couples will be expected to perform three dances, including a four-way swing-a-thon.

But the tonight’s result will not just determine who is one step closer to lifting that glitterball. Tonight’s result will set the tone for the rest of the competition, and for the rest of the Strictly seasons in the coming years.

Friends of mine will be shocked when they read this post, because quite frankly, I – a massive Strictly fan – am getting a bit fed up of the BBC’s Saturday night dancing entertainment. It’s all getting a bit too gimmicky, too cheesy and, I would even push to say, tacky.

I don’t mean to blame this all on the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, but she is my first point of attack. I commend her in every respect for giving something a go which is miles out of her comfort zone and puts her as the focus of criticism – and often ridicule – every Saturday night. But I can’t bear to watch poor Anton push and pull her around the dance floor like a Tesco shopping trolley anymore. The poor girl has cringeworthy timing, no idea about grace or line, and clings onto Anton as if her life depended on it. The only thing that impresses me each week about the performance is Anton’s incredible patience with his assigned partner.

Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke dancing the American Smooth at the Strictly quarter-finals 2010

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SLASH Hip-Hop Dance Workshop review – Saturday 27th November

Cardiff was graced with some choreographer elite this weekend when SLASH Hip-Hop Group hosted a two-day dance workshop at Vitality Gym.

I was fortunate enough to grab a spot on the sell-out Saturday workshop, which had three classes to offer from choreographers Bly Richards, Azrul Aminudin and Nader Musharbash.

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Interview with Jon-Scott Clark – ensemble member, Mamma Mia! International Tour

Jon-Scott Clark, 22, is a professional dancer who is currently a member of the ensemble in the cast of the International Tour of Mamma Mia! Here he talks about his training and his time on the road with Mamma Mia!

Jon-Scott started dancing from the age of 12, where he was told by his football coach to take up dancing to help improve his footwork. He started attending classes with his twin sister Samantha, and started to show real promise for a profession which totally contradicted the laddish mentality of the footballing world. Despite reaching a county level standard of football, Jon-Scott’s talent for performing led him to follow a career in the performing arts.

At 16, Jon-Scott auditioned for a number of full-time performing arts schools up and down the country, finally securing a place at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, where he was appointed head boy. After three years of training Jon-Scott has gone on to perform in many productions, including Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates in Newcastle, An Evening of Laughter with Ken Dodd & Friends at the London Palladium and performing in Dubai for the production of The West End and Beyond.

Jon-Scott Clark, Laine Theatre Arts Graduate and ensemble member for Mamma Mia! International Tour

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Mamma Mia! at the Wales Millennium Centre – review

It’s not often a touring production lives up to the standard of its West End counterpart.

But the debut International Tour of Mamma Mia! has done just that. On Wednesday 17 November the Wales Millennium Centre hosted the global smash hit for the very first time as a chosen venue for the show’s 15-month stint, which tours throughout the UK and mainland Europe.

As you would expect from a sell-out musical, Mamma Mia! delivers an experience which leaves you breathless through brilliantly-timed comedy and sharp choreography, gift-wrapped in a whirlwind of brightly-coloured spandex and glittering sequins. The dazzling facade and gleaming smiles however disguise a lack of emotional depth that really makes a musical.

Miria Parvin as Sophie with the female cast of Mamma Mia

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Interview with Nancy Osbaldeston, ENB artist

Nancy Osbaldeston is a professional working ballerina at the English National Ballet Company. Here she talks about her role in ENB’s latest production of Romeo and Juliet, the future of ballet in the world of dance and the pros and cons of her chosen career.

Nancy dancing a solo from Don Quixote at the 2008 Prix de Lausanne

Nancy, 21, started dancing at a very young age, attending ballet classes offered at her local nursery. After keeping up the hobby throughout her childhood years, she auditioned for the part of a little girl in the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker. It was this first real experience of the ballet world that inspired her to pursue a career in dance, after being “truly wowed” in playing just a tiny part of the production.

It was from this point that Nancy started to “get more serious” about her dance. She became an associate for both Northern Ballet Company and the Royal Ballet, taking extra lessons every week. At the age of 16, Nancy auditioned for seven different ballet schools up and down the country, finally settling in London with the English National Ballet school for three years.

After completing her training, Nancy was offered a contract with the English National Ballet, and has been dancing as an artist of the company for the past three years.

 

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SLASH Hip-Hop beginners review

SLASH Hip-Hop crew are expanding the much-lacking Cardiff dance scene by offering hip-hop dance classes at Vitality Gym on Park Place – from beginners to advanced.

Recommended by a fellow journo dance-a-holic, I decided to check out their beginners class on Monday evening. I had my suspicions – everything this class entails would go completely against my previously completely classical training. I have experimented with hip-hop dance before (around the time of the release of Step Up 2, I think I naively thought my new dance interest would lead me to a guy like Channing Tatum) but my skills are far from well-honed.

Call me a hip-hop convert. I was immensely impressed.

The class was lead by two enthusiastic young girls – Francesca Parma and Kimberlee Steele – and immediately I was put at ease. The warm-up was hip-hop move inspired, not your box-standard aerobics sequence. It did the job – not only was I sufficiently limbered up for some serious moves, but it managed to push the voice of my former ballet teacher screaming “shoulders back! Turn your feet out!” out of my head.

The class had a good turn-out, and the studio was well equipped for what the class needed. After the warm-up, straight into a choreographed sequence, led by Kimberlee.

The choreography was effortlessly slick and engaging, a good reflection on the teacher and choreographer herself. Her enthusiasm and energy was infectious, it was difficult not to really get into the choreography.

Aside from that, the teaching itself was clear and easy to follow – demonstrations were repeated several times, and was really tailored to the hip-hop beginner. The proof lies with my housemate who has no previous dancing experience, yet seemed to pick up the moves with ease.

The class finished with a well-rehearsed piece of choreography that defied our beginners’ status. The girls film each class and upload the video onto their Facebook page so participants can be proud and share their hard work.

In other very exciting news – SLASH are also hosting a dance workshop on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of November, with a range of choreographers with a complete entourage of celebrity experience to their name giving classes. Keep following for the blog…


Ready… and.

Welcome to Dance First Think Later – a blog focused around the exciting, sparkly, and at times incredibly camp world of dance. Follow me as I comment on current issues surrounding dance, interview dancers in the profession and review performances and dance classes in Cardiff. Below you will find a map of a few of the venues where I shall be trying my hand at a few different styles of dance – check it out.