Strictly Come Dancing's Natalie Lowe hot-steps her way to new show
After working so hard to establish herself on Strictly Come Dancing, leaving was the hardest thing.
Natalie Lowe said a fond farewell earlier this year, following her partnership with Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, after seven happy series.
She’d also featured on Dancing With The Stars, in her native Australia, and knew it was time to go.
The muscular blonde dancer says: “I spoke to a very good friend of mine about wanting to leave the show. I really felt like this was the year that I had to make the difficult decision of leaving.
“My friend asked me what I wanted to do and I told him there were lots of exciting things in the future that I wanted to tackle.”
Decision made, she set about working out her future. She planned to put her feet up for a few months then focus on a show she was producing at the end of the year. Her friend wasn’t so sure.
“He had an idea. He was producing a show that he wanted me to be involved in. I said absolutely not. I told him that I was 99.9 per cent sure it would be a no. But he was persuasive and said the show, Rip It Up, was based in the 1950s. He’d seen a version and wanted to include dance in it.
“At first, I was sure I wouldn’t do it but by the end of the conversation I was sure I would. I love that era and that music. I am a massive Elvis Presley fan. My mum and dad used to talk about going to dance nights on a Friday nights and leaving their house open and their car door open. It was a different world. I thought this would be the only chance that I could relive the era that I’m so fond of.”
Before she knew it, Natalie had signed on the dotted line and agreed to star alongside Strictly Come Dancing champions Louis Smith MBE and Jay McGuiness in Rip It Up.
Rip It Up’s promise to bring the fabulous soundtrack of the 1950’s to life in an explosion of song and dance that will see Natalie, Jay and Louis swing, bop, jitterbug, lindy hop, jive and ballroom their way through the greatest songs from the greatest decade of music; from romantic ballads and crooner classics to many of the era’s defining pop and rock‘n’roll hits.
She was drawn to the production by the chance to work with Louis and Jay.
“Louis is already a good friend, after winning the show with Flavia. And Jay did that amazing dance with Aliona. So I thought the three of us would be an amazing combination.
“I love being on tour and the fact that we go to London Palladium is great. The whole show will be epic and amazing and full-on. There’s lots of jives and full-on dances.”
Natalie has spent much of her life on the road. She was with a touring show for five years, dancing around the world. “It never really ended. That was our job, day in and day out. We would do it for eight months of the year and I loved it. So if I can survive that, I can do anything.
“Taking two months out of my life to do something that I love with a passion is a privilege. I’m so excited to be dancing – I’m definitely not hanging the towel up.”
Moving on so quickly and starring in theatres throughout autumn means she won’t have time to miss Strictly. “It’ll soften the blow. If I wasn’t working, I’d be there in front of the TV with the Kleenex, weeping.
“But I think you can get too safe, too samey in your world. Something inside me wants to do more, and not just dance. I’ve been wanting to start up my own company for about ten years. I’ve got other interests outside of dance. I’m not going to go and start playing baseball. But I want to develop new projects and be creative.
“I loved Strictly. It’s the most amazing show in the whole wide world. But now I need to start challenging myself as a choreographer, director, producer – I need to start bringing shows to life without necessarily being in them.”
Natalie says the reaction from the public is one of the most exciting experiences of Strictly – though she seldom realised how popular the show was until the end of each series. While filming was taking place, she was too busy working to notice.
“You live, breathe, sleep and dance Strictly. You are up from August until the end of the year. In August, it’s a whole month of professional routines to get the show looking as amazing as possible. Then we have three weeks with our celebrity after the launch. So we’ve done two-and-a-half months before it comes to life.
“Then we’re dancing with our partners six to ten hours a day. We’ll come home, research music or have to do a solo performance. On average, I’d work a 14-16-hour day. I lived on four to six hours sleep per night during Strictly. You have to and you need to if you want to do well. That’s the sacrifice you have to make. You have to come up with ideas and storyboards. You have to think about lighting, costume, music and what feel. Then you have to teach a celebrity. Then there’s interviews. But the public – you don’t realise how much they are loving you. It’s just home, studio, BBC, studio, home.”
“It’s been the most amazing, educational journey of my whole, entire career. We stary really good friends and always bump into each other.
She remains in touch with the guys she danced with and believes they’re all incredible in different ways.
“But it’s time to move on.” It’s time to Rip It Up.
l Natalie brings her new show to Birmingham Symphony Hall on September 19; Aston Hall in Wrexham on September 21; and Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury on September 22. Tickets still on sale
l For more entertainment news and reviews see The Ticket in your Express & Star every Friday.