Strictly Come Dancing - The Professionals, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - review
There was no need to wait until the autumn for our annual dose of Strictly Come Dancing magic this year.
The Strictly Professionals are currently sashaying their way across the country on their 35 date 2019 UK tour, landing at the Birmingham Symphony Hall last night in an explosion of spangles, sparkle and stunning dance technique.
The line-up is pretty impressive and not a single “desperate to learn, will they pull it off?” celebrity in sight, just superb professional dancers doing what they do best.
In fact, Between the 10 dancers taking part, there was includes an overall Strictly Come Dancing champion, finalists, semi-finalists, a World Professional Mambo Champion, a two- time Ballroom and Latin World Champion and an undefeated four-time British National Champion.
Phew - Told you it was impressive.
Although the venue’s dance space is not as huge as the TV Strictly ballroom, this uber talented squad did not hold back on their moves, delivering what can only be described as a dazzling display of dance talent.
Naturally, it’s a showcase of dance primarily, but in fact this show is so much more, with an opportunity to get to know the dancers and listen to their own stories, comedy, music and audience participation and dances set to some of the most popular music from the main TV series, as well as new stuff too.
The place erupted when the opening number began and that mood continued until the last person left their seat. Highlights included a sultry, steamy Latin American scene set in Havana, then in contrast a beautiful American Smooth to The Way You Look Tonight.
Gorka Marquez and Oti Mabuse delighted us with a romantic waltz where she appeared as a vision in white, followed by a comedy ballroom blitz dance off between the super cute AJ Pritchard and Neil Jones, which then lead smoothly into the high-energy end of Act One, danced by the whole troupe to Candy Staton’s Young Hearts Run Free.
Recovering during the interval, the audience were contemplating what was to come next and they weren’t disappointed.
Musicals week on Strictly is always a favourite amongst the dancers apparently, and so they just couldn’t resist performing Wilkommen followed by a super-slick, fast quick step to Cabaret by Pasha Kovalev and Nadia Bychkova.
A fantastic Samba followed by Katya Jones and Neil set to Money Makes the World go Around – and then something for the younger members of the audience, Mary Poppins by Dianne Buswell and Gorka.
Highlights from musicals by the masters Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were next and then on to an incredible Argentinian tango and traditional tango fusion by Giovanni Pernice and, Nadia which brought the house down.
The wild abandonment of the Pasco was another unforgettable moment.
Described as the ‘gentleman of Strictly’, Pasha Kovalev has come to the end of his career on the show, with this tour being his last with these fellow dancers and friends.
To get a standing ovation in the middle of a performance is something I am sure he will never forget, but it was so well-deserved and the love and admiration for this humble star was tangible.
I have no idea where their energy comes from, but the Strictly Professionals whipped through more and more dances until they reached a massive jive section set to Miss American Pie and then onto a stunning River Deep, Mountain High finale with the whole audience on its feet again, clapping and dancing along.
We have come to expect glamour, glitz and good looks from the Strictly crew, and that is just the men; and believe me, this show doesn’t disappoint. With costume change after costume change, the outfits just got better and better with sequins, satin, crystals and feathers galore. No expense had been spared to ensure audiences are just as delighted by the tour as when watching at home.
The band and singers on the TV series are nothing short of exceptional and you could not roll out a tour without sticking to exactly the same standard. Well, no worries on that score as I cannot praise the seven-piece band in this show highly enough.
Together with superb singers Patrick and Alison, they were certainly true Strictly Professionals too, with outstanding vocals and musicality.While none of us can wait for the next series to begin, this 2019 UK tour performed by who must surely some of the very best dancers in the world, is just enough to see us through until September.And finally, with the lovely Brendan Cole sitting just a row behind me, it was the most incredible evening’s entertainment I could have wished for.
All that is left to say is, ‘keep dancing'.