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Last Friday saw this year’s annual Ballroom Dancing society (LUBDS) charity showcase featuring Lancaster University’s own Strictly Come Dancing, in aid of Cancer research. Hosted by our own Bruce Forsyth, Chris Osborn and Becky Case, winner of Lancaster’s first Strictly, the showcase brought a huge variety of performances from hip hop to belly dancing to musical theatre.
It opened with a dynamic performance from LUBDS before the hip hop and break dance society changed the tone slightly with their popping and locking like a pneumatic drill, bringing a lot of fun to the floor and clear audience enjoyment. ULMS Big Band brought a bit of musical theatre to the stage with a rendition of Seasons of Love. Singers Will Evans and Holly Gardner brought chills to the audience as they smashed the top notes accompanied by ULMS Barber shop ‘Specs Appeal’ in their well loved twee hats and waistcoats and newly formed Barbie shop while Vicki and Andrew from LUBDS made an elegant appearance with a beautifully executed Foxtrot. The Strictly feel was really blooming now.
The Indian dance society brought culture in a range of styles followed by another performance from the Big Band accompanied by a fast and fiery samba routine. The sequins and sparkles were out, it was sharp, it was fun and quite frankly, on point. Shout out also to Jeremy Morgan and his drum solo and the Big Band trumpets bringing a little razzle dazzle and pizzazz to the whole performance. LUDANS then followed with the performance that won them the Street Dance title at Durham Dance Fusion and we could see why without a foot out of place, they were perfectly on beat the whole way through.
We then got a sneak preview of ULMS and LUTG collaboration performance of Fame with Holly Gudgin on vocals to give goose bumps leaving the audience in anticipation for their full performance in April. The choreography society then caught everyone’s interest with a dark contemporary performance but, plot twist, they were all blindfolded. With only a couple of slight knocks, they demonstrated amazing spacial awareness and trust beyond what many could have mastered.
Things got a little raunchy as both Holly Gudgin and Holly Gardner made a reappearance among others in a sexy, passionate collaborative performance of Chicago with members of the ballroom dancing society, accompanied by ULMS Wind Band. They certainly turned up the heat, although I’m not sure singer Will Evans was complaining in his spectacular performance, surrounded by a cohort of beautiful girls in fish net stockings and little else. Dynamic, theatrical and sexy.
We also saw fun party pieces by the Salsa society, clicking, clapping and tapping all over the place with a percussive performance from LUDANS tap, fantastic choreography in a James Bond themed medley from LUBDS, all the bells and bellies from the belly dancing society with their fan dance and traditional Egyptian drum solo and more performances from hip hop, big band and LUBDS couples.
But, now for the climax of the show, Lancaster does Strictly Come Dancing. We had all the glitz and glamour as eight couples took to the floor after practicing since November to impress the audience as well as judges; LUDANS president, Alex Dale, former LUBDS president Andy Pickup and holder of over 30 national ballroom dancing titles, Kyle Harwood.
First up was LUSU President Will Hedley with his partner Amelia Edwards. The pressure was on as last year his girlfriend, Polly McDonald, managed to secure second place in Lancaster does Strictly, but he had all the thrills and frills of a samba (particularly in that shirt!) According to the judges, his party feel and number of basic samba steps bagged him a total score of 22.
Next up was Bailrigg FM’s Ishan Ganjoor and his partner Leanne Cubbon dancing the Cha Cha Cha. The judges said that although understandably nervous, they loved the ending and the strong arms and good lines getting him exactly the same score as Will of two 7s and an 8.
Our third couple was Christian Union President Elliot Sloman and partner Anna France but he certainly wasn’t a slow man tonight on the quickstep. It seems illness, a busy Christian Union event’s week the week of the showcase and even a sprained ankle on the day couldn’t hold them back as they flew around the floor bagging those two 8s. Although, it seems judge Harwood was playing more Revel Horwood awarding rouge 5 leading to discontent in the audience.
Couple number four, Sophie Tarif and Andrew Smith caught everyone’s attention storming onto the stage with a very theatrical opening to their tango. It was sharp, it was strong and it was full of impressive lifts. The judges and audience alike loved it, securing them the first 10 of the night, (it may have even been a perfect score if she had only pointed her toes!)
LA1:TV’s Benjamin Kay and partner Lydia Ratto brought all the charm of the Charleston with exciting lifts and kicks and flicks all over the place. It seems ‘Cheeky Monkey’ was the name of the game here as they danced around to the well loved Disney classic, I wanna be like you. A really fun performance securing them a total of 26.
Former County President, Rhiannon Llystyn certainly utilised her ten years of gymnastics experience with partner Gary Chan in their bendy rumba. Full of flips and tricks, the judges said there was a brilliant connection but not many basic rumba steps, also giving them a total score of 26.
The penultimate couple, Bailrigg FM’s Joel Smith and partner Charlotte Snape, current President of LUBDS, brought fire to the stage with their jive. He may have started the routine asleep but he certainly didn’t stay that way with a fast and furious performance, confident and competent all round. I think we all agreed with the judges when they said it was clear he was having a good time, awarding them two 9s and the second 10 of the night.
Our final couple of the night Grace Finney and partner Jack Price, finished the show with a fun, lively quickstep. The judges said that there was so much energy and she was very competent out of hold although may need to work on in-hold sections and top line, giving them a solid 8 across the board.
The judges all had their say; however in the end it was purely down to the audience votes. Now the moment we had all been waiting for, the results:
4th place: Joel and Charlotte (jive)
Joint 2nd place: Grace and Jack (quickstep) and Ben and Lydia (Charleston)
1st place: Sophie and Andrew (Tango)
A massive well done to everyone that took part, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a particular congratulations to Sophie and Andrew. I think it was clear everyone had a good night as LUBDS gave a fantastic final dance with a real party feel before inviting everyone on stage to join them in the Last Waltz. A really great way to end such a wonderful evening all topped off by the fact that by the end of the night they had reached their £2,000 target for Cancer Research. Congratulations to all involved!