When I went into Strictly Come Dancing, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t know what level of dance I was about to see, what shape the show would take, or the names of anyone taking part. By the end of it, I found myself entirely won over, and lamenting the fact that my upcoming graduation means I won’t be able to go to the event again in 2019.

The concept of the show is simple, especially if you’re familiar with the BBC One show of the same name, as I am after years of Saturday nights watching Bruce Forsyth tear up the dance floor with Tess Daly. Eight ‘celebrities’ of St Andrews are paired with eight ‘professional’ dancers and given a short period of time to learn a dance routine, which they then take turns performing. The judges give their comments and scores, and the audience then has the power in determining the overall winner.

The format transitioned remarkably well to the small stage in the Union, and even though the stage was glitter-free, each couple brought enough sparkle to their routines to generate buzz in the audience. Glamour, stumbles, successes and the sort of awkward humour these kinds of competitions can’t hope to avoid  – I was thoroughly entertained for the whole two hours. Although I hadn’t heard of most of the ‘celebrities’, I appreciated the attempt at retaining the format and feel of the BBC show.

The four judges did an excellent job of performing the role of their BBC counterparts: Tom Schnabel as the nit-picking Craig Revel Horwood had the crowd laughing with his ludicrously pedantic criticisms, Pim Ungphakorn echoed Darcy Bussell with her graceful tact and enthusiasm, Frazer Chan yelled Len Goodman’s ‘seven!’ with vigour and Justin Gomme gesticulated wildly in a manner Bruno Tonioli would be proud to see.

The hosts (Lorelei Pfeffer and Gordian Leo) did a good job of keeping the show together, and although some of their jokes fell a little flat, their attempts to create an excited energy for the whole show prevailed, and it was obvious the audience was won over as it paid rapt attention from beginning to end.

As for the actual dancers, I found them surprisingly good. From Cha-cha-chas, to Waltzes, to Jives – I thought all of the couples did a magnificent job in learning such complicated routines in such a short amount of time. Among the competitors were born-dancers as well as those who will probably hang up their dancing shoes for good after the competition, but regardless, each couple gave their all, and it was a delight to watch.

On the whole, I thought it was a great show, and the effort put in by all participants shone through. I would definitely recommend going next year – even if you think you hate dancing, you’ll find something to tap your feet to.

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The Saint


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