On the Rocks event, Strictly Come Dancing, returned for its third year on Saturday the 11th of April in spectacular fashion. Concurrence with Big Top Ball had a negative impact on numbers, but those who attended were treated to a feast of both Ballroom and Latin dance numbers from professionals and amateurs alike. The evening began with various St Andrews appropriate satirical jokes from presenter, Lewis Dean, who won the competition last year, leading into a variety of dances performed by members of the Ballroom and Latin Dance Society. The talent boasted by the dancers of the society was extremely impressive with many only having one or two years of training and yet managing to compete at a high level.
The show, arranged by BALLADS, loosely followed the format of the popular television show with local celebrities partnered with professional partners competing to win the votes of the judges and the audience in a bid to be crowned champion. The first couple to take to the stage of the Buchanan Lecture Theatre was George Kakas, winner of this year’s St Andrews Got Talent, and his partner Charlotte dancing a vibrant Cha Cha. With extraordinarily impressive choreography, the pair performed to a level which greatly exceeded expectations. It would be safe to say that Kakas is a born dancer, with all five judges praising him for technique, flair and skilled hip action, an essential part of Latin dances.
The second dance performed was a waltz by Omar Ali and his partner Pim. The couple attacked their dance with strength and enthusiasm though it may be safe to say that Omar’s talents lie in his impressive academic skills and his participation in thirteen student committees as opposed to the dance floor.
Thirdly came the Rev. Dr. Donald MacEwan, performing the Lindy Hop with his partner Yana. As a regular attender at university chapel services, I have never seen our chaplain look so content and full of vitality. Dr MacEwan later commented, “It was huge fun to take part in Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve been a fan of the TV show for years so it was a thrill to be invited to take part. My professional partner Yana did her best to teach me the lindy hop. Although I lacked a little bounce and a lot of finesse, I loved dancing on the stage to some great gospel music. I think the judges and the audience chose the right winners: Paula Miles and her partner Ollie were fantastic at the quickstep. Keep dancing!”
Winners Paula Miles, lecturer in the department of psychology and neuroscience, and her partner Ollie, performed a spectacular quickstep, one of the most energetic ballroom dances. Obtaining a total score of 37 out of 40, and winning both the audience’s choice award and overall 1st place, their precise footwork and confidence made them worthy winners.
The last competing pair were Steve Fan and his partner Gabi, who performed a technical Paso Doble. While they may have lacked the fire and passion required by this Spanish dance, their technique was complimented by the judges and as Steve remarked, “experimenting is part of the fun.”
The second act featured the Edinburgh University Salsa Society performing in beautifully vibrant costumes and lending a spirit of university cooperation to the occasion. The Blue Angels Intermediate Team then performed a spellbinding routine, which had the audience wishing they could dance even half as beautifully. Presenter Lewis then decided that no dance event was complete without an audience Macarena being performed. A cause for great hilarity, the audience enthusiastically participated lending the lecture theatre more energy than it has probably ever experienced before or ever will again.
The evening concluded with a cappella from the Hummingbirds, reprising some of the songs sung at the recent Scottish A Cappella championships at which they won the award for Best Choreography. Alternating with the Hummingbirds were 8 times Ballroom and 4 times Latin Scottish Amateur Championship winners, Hilary Mouat and Tibor Poc who treated the audience to spectacular performances of the waltz, tango, samba and jive.
BALLADS must be congratulated on putting together such a spectacular event which brought the best of coupled dancing to the forefront for the evening. Committee member and organiser Gleb Dobrovolskiy commented, “Apart from minor issues, the event was a success, in my opinion. Seeing all the enthusiasm and to be united in commitment with so many people from different groups and even cities in organising an event of that scale was a wonderful experience and gave me a very special feeling.”