Tuesday 24th November 2009 by C. Freeman
Strictly Staff Dancing was a fantastic night of entertainment where 18 amateur staff dancers showed off their moves. Months of preparation led to just a few minutes in the spotlight when they performed the waltz and tango for an audience of hundreds. As each couple was introduced a short video-clip showed the training sessions which had transformed them from amateur hoofers into polished performers.
The event kicked off with a spirited 'Moondance' by the Brooke Weston dancers then it was on to the main event, impeccably hosted by Mr Nicholls and Miss Dunn. The judges, comprising Miss Duguid, Miss Bailey and Mr Duguid, explained that each couple would be marked on their technical ability, poise and elegance. The first to take to the balloon-bedecked stage were Mrs Hibberd and Mr Browne whose theatrical tango merited high marks from the judges. They were called a 'strong and fierce' couple and were praised for their excellent focus.
Next up was Miss Rusher who was dancing with Sixth Former Rob Lucas. It was a smile-filled performance to Abba's 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme' made all the more impressive because Rob had stepped in at short notice. Then it was on to the waltz for Mrs Hilling and Mr Costello who danced to 'Love Ain't Here Anymore' and Miss Duguid commented on their 'technically decent steps.'
The Art Department was represented by Miss Smith and Mr Procter who obviously enjoyed their tango which was embellished with a Bollywood-style interlude for which they had had training from Shivani Mistry. The judges loved it and it scooped the first 10 score of the night from Miss Duguid.
Mrs Wright and Mr Cooper then put in a soulful waltz to the music from The Godfather before Miss White and Mr Odachowski performed their tango to fast-paced latin music. The tempo changed for the following dance by Miss Lincoln. Mr Wilkinson stepped (or rather scootered) in to accompany her for a courtly waltz. Banners of support were waved by the audience as Miss Blencowe and Mr Bidwell took to the floor for a waltz to 'Moon River.' They scored the second 10 of the night from Miss Bailey who called it 'a beautiful performance'.
Miss Gorey and Mr Wilson's sultry tango finished with a theatrical lift which marked both the end of the performance and the first half. It was time for a quick breather and costume change before the show had to go on, with Miss Gorey and Mr Wilson returning to do their waltz. She was resplendent in a pastel Grecian style dress, he in chain mail (really) weighing 15kg as they danced to a song from Romeo and Juliet which earned them top marks from Miss Bailey. Miss White and Mr Odachowski then drew praise for the 'lovely start and ending' of their waltz before Mr Cooper literally dragged Mrs Wright onto the floor for a flirty tango which earned high scores and praise from the judges, especially for the impromptu shoe-removal halfway through!
The highest-scoring performance of the night was next with Mrs Hibberd and Mr Browne performing an ultra-stylish waltz which drew praise from all of the judges with Miss Duguid calling it 'technically the most refined dance of the evening.' It merited 10 points each from both Miss Duguid and Miss Bailey, while the low-scoring Mr Duguid gave it his best mark of the evening with a 9 saying: 'I thought that was lovely, you attacked it with such grace.'
Waltzes then followed from Mrs Hilling and Mr Costello then Miss Rusher and Rob Lucas. Mrs Hilling was praised for 'the flicky leg bits' while Miss Rusher's good posture and smiling performance were noted. Miss Lincoln and Mr Wilkinson then danced to the tango music used in 'Scent of a Woman' which earned favourable comments for its 'fantastic start and finish' before Mr Procter and Miss Smith took to the floor once more for their waltz to 'If You Don't Know Me By Now'.
The final act of the competition was Miss Blencowe and Mr Bidwell whose slinky tango rounded off the show nicely. While the scores were being added up Mr and Miss Duguid took to the floor for a superbly spirited jive to Rock Around The Clock. The final two acts through to the 'Dance-Off' were Mr Browne and Mrs Hibberd and Miss Gorey and Mr Wilson. After both again performed faultless tangos the winning couple was decided by the roar of the crowd. Miss Gorey and Mr Wilson were presented with their commemorative trophy by Principal, Trish Stringer who said to all the dancers: 'What a fantastic evening, the courage you have all shown is brilliant!'
More than £1,000 was collected through ticket sales and donations on the night. The money will be given to Teenage Cancer Trust to go towards building a specialist unit at Leicester and also to local projects West Glebe Youth Centre and Adrenaline Alley.
Thanks go to everyone who supported the event; including Miss Duguid for her expert tuition, Carrie Bellamy who shot and edited the rehearsal film footage, Mr Jackson for his technical support and The Brooke Weston Dancers. Thanks also go to the audience for their support and finally, but especially, to all the staff. Firstly to Mr Bidwell who masterminded the event and then skillfully persuaded his colleagues to join the fun. It was a fantastic showcase, not only of dance, but of how teamwork,commitment and enthusiasm can combine to certainly make a night to remember.