It's the greatest show! Strictly Northampton is back at Royal & Derngate with former BBC Strictly star as judge

Picture: Step By Step Dance School
Picture: Step By Step Dance School

Contestants and dancers started rehearsals this week for a Strictly Northampton 2018 that looks set to be bigger, bolder and busier than ever.

Some of the contestants were taking their very first steps in ballroom and latin at week two of rehearsals at the Step by Step dance studio in Henry Street.

Picture: Step By Step Dance School

Picture: Step By Step Dance School

They have a challenging 7 weeks of rehearsals ahead to prepare for a show that will take place on 1st December 2018 at the Royal and Derngate theatre.

Co-ordinator and dance director Andrzej Mialkowski says: “This year’s show is going to be amazing. The theme for the freestyle showdances is Christmas panto so expect to see some Cinderellas and Peter Pans on stage. The show’s opening dance is set to the music from “The Greatest Showman” with me leading the dancers as The Greatest Showman!”

Strictly Northampton 2018, whose main sponsor is Chelton Brown Northampton, is the ninth annual event to be staged and will feature former Strictly Come Dancing professional Robin Windsor on the panel of judges.

He says: “I would like the dancers to bring fun, performance and energy to their dancing. Technique takes a while to practice but everyone can bring performance and fun. I’ve judged many Strictlys around the country and I love judging Strictly Northampton. It’s so well-organised, structured and raises a huge amount of money for charity”.

Picture: Sarah Haigh Photography

Picture: Sarah Haigh Photography

All profits from the show will go to Cynthia Spencer Hospice. Last year the show raised a staggering £32,489 for the charity and this year the fundraising bar has been raised to an ambitious £40,000 which would pay for almost 80 individual days of care for one patient in the inpatient unit.

Fundraising manager for hospice, John Helm says: “Strictly Northampton is a fantastic fundraising event for the hospice because it not only raises significant funds so we can continue to provide our amazing care to the people of Northamptonshire, including inpatient care, Hospice@Home and other community services, family support, Day Hospice therapy and our lymphoedema clinic, but it also gives people the opportunity to achieve a personal ambition of learning to dance!"

The 24 contestants and their dance partners are certainly up for the challenge of learning to dance, even if they haven’t danced a step before!

Ex-boxer, boxing teacher and personal trainer Anthony Mann says: “I teach boxing for a living in a boxing ring at the bottom of my garden. I’ve never danced before – the footwork in boxing is simple compared to this jive. I think I am sweating more than in the ring!”

Picture: Step By Step Dance School

Picture: Step By Step Dance School

Other contestants have a personal reason to take part.

Caroline Strawson, Northampton, is one of only six divorce and positive psychology coaches in the UK. She signed up to show people that you can overcome personal difficulties through positive action. She says: “I speak to so many people going through divorce having a really tough time and I wanted to show them that yes you can do this. You may think that life will never be the same going through a divorce but if you step out of your comfort zone and take on a new challenge, life can get better.”

Volunteer Stefan Attril, 54, is dumbfounding doctors at Northampton General Hospital that he is taking part at all. In February 2015 he had a serious accident, smashed his hip and was told he would always walk with a limp and a stick. He says: “I was told I wouldn’t be able to do any kind of dance again and I am defying the odds. I wanted to take part to give something back to the community. Its going to be a challenge.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for Strictly Northampton, call the Royal and Derngate theatre or visit www. royalandderngate.co.uk

Picture: Sarah Haigh Photography

Picture: Sarah Haigh Photography

Picture: Step By Step Dance School

Picture: Step By Step Dance School