Contestants and partners take their first dance steps as Strictly Northampton 2021 kicks off

This year’s competition is bigger and better than ever before

By Sarah Becker
Monday, 20th September 2021, 5:01 pm
Training has begun for Strictly Northampton 2021. Photo: Martin Farmer.
Training has begun for Strictly Northampton 2021. Photo: Martin Farmer.

Hot on the heels of the launch of this year’s BBC show Strictly Come Dancing comes Strictly Northampton 2021.

After a year-long pause, contestants from Northamptonshire and dancers from Step by Step Dance School were finally able to take their first steps in ballroom and latin dances at Caroline Chisholm School on Sunday (September 19).

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the charity dance show run by directors Andrzej and Jo Mialkowski of Step by Step Dance School was finally back on course after the disruption from the pandemic.

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There are more contestants this year than ever before. Photo: Martin Farmer.

Sixty four contestants and dancers – a bigger cohort than ever before - took their first steps in the eight week dance training programme, which will prepare them to perform on stage in front of a packed audience in November at the Royal & Derngate theatre.

Andrzej and Jo Mialkowski led the first three hour training session in American Smooth Waltz, Jive, the Tango and the Cha-cha-cha.

Andrzej said: “Strictly Northampton was due to start in September last year but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

“The contestants have been itching to start training after a long year.

Contestants will perform on stage in November. Photo: Martin Farmer.

“They love taking part in the show because there is always a fantastic atmosphere; they get to meet new friends and learn to dance.

“It’s hard work too for everybody – we have to prepare them for going on stage so that they feel comfortable dancing in front of 1,000 people.

“There will be blood, sweat, tears and laughter and of course lots of fake tan and glitter.”

Taking his very first steps in waltz, one of the contestants, leader of West Northamptonshire Council, Jonathan Nunn added: “It’s tricky, but it’s been brilliant fun and a great way to engage my brain after a very demanding week at work.

“I’m excited to be part of such a great fundraising event.”

Andrzej is confident the 10-year anniversary edition of the show is going to be bigger and better than ever before.

“There are more contestants, more dances to learn and a unique opening number led by popular local singer That Joe Payne who will be singing a smash hit number from Queen,” he continued.

“There is already a brilliant atmosphere amongst the contestants and in the theatre it is always electric as friends and families cheer their loved ones on stage.”

Two new judges will also be on the judging panel this year.

“I can’t reveal who will be judging just yet,” says Andrzej, “but let’s just say there will be a professional dancer from the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing and another local well known professional.”

He also revealed that the contestants have already raised a huge £10,000 towards a fundraising target of £40,000 with proceeds of the show going to Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

One of the contestants taking part, Sarah Stride, a nurse at Cynthia Spencer Hospice was congratulated for raising the most amount of money so far with more than £3,900.

Taking her very first steps in Tango, she said: “I actually feel quite emotional as I know how important this event is to the patients and their families who I work with every day.

“I know firsthand how vital it is to get the funding for the work we do, and I want to do more.”

To donate to the Strictly campaign, visit the JustGiving page here.