Strictly superb show as dance partners shine at Ilkley's Winter Gardens

Wharfedale Observer: Ilkley Strictly Dancing contest winners, Stephanie Burgess and Mark Allan. All pictures by David Brett Photography Ilkley Strictly Dancing contest winners, Stephanie Burgess and Mark Allan. All pictures by David Brett Photography

Strictly Come Dancing fans recently took to the floor at Ilkley’s Winter Gardens in a flurry of sequins and open-necked shirts!

Dancers had just one day to train with a choreographer and their new partner before taking part in a glittering evening contest.

Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society staged its second annual fundraising Strictly Dancing contest, inspired by the popular show currently gripping the country’s TV-watching public.

But while contestants in the hit show have weeks to practice their routine, the brave Ilkley volunteers were paired up just ten hours before the contest, before being coached in ballroom or latin dance.

They were taught some winning moves by guest choreographer Andrew Walton, who has won several British dance titles as well as competing alongside dancers who have gone on to appear in BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The new dance partners performed their routines before an appreciative audience, and were judged by a panel, including contestants from last year.

The victorious pair were Mark Allan, who has appeared in the society’s recent productions of Oliver and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society secretary, Stephanie Burgess.

She said: “It was amazing. We did a foxtrot and we were very satisfied to have cracked it. We’re not dancers, but a few of the other competitors were.”

Also among the competitors was Jo Walters, who runs Joze School of Dance in Ilkley. Performers from her dance school provided additional entertainment.

As well as not knowing who their partner for the day would be, or what style of dance they would be performing, competitors also had to take along suitable costume in the hope it would match the routine and their partner’s outfit.

Organisers believe the event has raised about £1,000. The money will go towards helping Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society stage future shows.

The society is already considering running Strictly Dancing for a third time next year. The society’s next production, in March 2013, will be Me And My Girl, to be staged at the King’s Hall in Ilkley.

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