Hello lovely people! I’m suffering so bad right now from post-show blues, for I went to my first ever BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. Granted, most of the Proms at the BBC don’t appeal to me, but every year, the BBC Proms have a few ‘popular culture’ style proms. Recently, they’ve done a Horrible Histories Prom, a Doctor Who Prom, Ibiza Proms (which looked INSANE!). This year, they’re doing a David Bowie Prom and they’ve just done a Strictly Prom, which will be on TV tonight. Fortunately, and after a long time in an online virtual queue, I managed to score two tickets for my Mum and I to go and watch the Strictly Prom in the flesh.
It was A-MA-ZING. I’m extremely lucky in that I’ve been able to see lots of live shows, yet there’s something extremely special in hearing classical music performed in such an iconic venue, watching world-class dancing. From the glitter ball spinning above us all to feeling like a part of BBC Proms history, I wouldn’t have changed the entire event for a second.
I’d been so excited for the event for AGES. It was one of those things where, through the longest revision season ever, the thought of knowing that I’d be going to the Proms got me through. In true style, my Mum and I took the opportunity to glam up. I’d like to think that my look channels ‘Watch out Tess Daly, I’m gonna take your job’ OR ‘Hey Aljaz*, shall we run off together and elope?’.
*If you don’t watch Strictly, Aljaz is one of the professional dancers. Click here for the most beautiful picture of a man that you may ever see. I hope your day improves because of it.
So, after a train journey into London, a Pizza Hut on the Strand and a short tube journey to South Kensington, Mum and I finally made our way into the Royal Albert Hall and took our seats. When I was purchasing the tickets, I ummed and ahhed about where to book the tickets, but I’m so glad that I chose the stalls. It was worth it to be so close to the action, on an angle. Below is a panorama of my view before the show started.
By this point, I was a bumbling mess of excitement. I’d read the programme, seeing what pieces of music were going to be performed and who was going to be dancing to what. I was extremely excited to read that Aljaz would be performing a rumba and Karen a paso doble in particular. Every dance was a dream to watch, and I could watch every leg extension, fleckle and lift about a million more times.
The lights came up, and the show was about to start. Unlike a few people scattered in the audience, I didn’t want to take photos throughout the show. I knew that it was going to be on TV, and I didn’t want to live the event vicarously through a small iPhone 6 screen.
The opening number was a Gypsy medley, starring all six professionals that would be performing throughout the evening. Firstly came Joanne Clifton and Giovanni Pernice, then Karen and Kevin Clifton, finally Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara. It was awesome, full of blue dresses and high kicks; the perfect way to start off the show! Katie Derham then glided onto stage, introducing the couples and herself to the live audience who were also listening to the event via Radio 3.
In between each dance performance came an orchestral piece from the BBC Concert Orchestra. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the pieces quite as much as I did, but watching an orchestra makes me want to learn a brand new instrument (I’m thinking saxophone, it’s a cool instrument). The BCO played pieces such as Strauss’ ‘Die Fledermaus’, Murder on the Orient Express and Tchaikovsky’s Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker. Each piece captured the huge audience in the palm of its hand; a cliched phrase here but you would have been able to hear a pin drop in the silent moments.
Now comes the discussion of the dances. I honestly cannot think of enough superlatives to fully justify how beautifully crafted each dance was. You know that you’re going there to see professionals dancing, but nothing can quite prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that you’re going to feel throughout a variety of different dances. Whilst we started the evening with an upbeat number, we were quickly whisked away to the land of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1 (one of my favourite pieces of music of ALL time) and a waltz by Joanne Clifton and Giovanni Pernice. Full of charm and a suitcase, you couldn’t help but be entranced by the 3/4.
After the waltz, we had a huge charleston (I told you it was a rollercoaster!) performed by all 3 couples, yet Aljaz and Janette were the main stars, and what a perfect fit this was! Full of high kicks, lifts a plenty and bursting at the sparkly seams with characterisations, I bloody loved this piece! It was a medley done to music from the 1920’s, and I couldn’t help but sing along to Happy Feet! I got those happy feet…
Another one of my favourite numbers was the closing of Act 1, a fiery paso doble performed by the married Cliftons, Karen (who now follows me on Twitter!) and Kevin. This number had everything you’d expect from a true paso; the cape, the change of weight from the matador and a true fight between the couple through passionate dance, the whole audience were on their feet by the end, and deservingly so.
Once the interval was over, we were treated to even more dances! Firstly, Katie and Aljaz performed a quickstep to 42nd Street! In the heart of little Old London, we found a beautiful dance (these should be the new lyrics) and this dance really showcased why Katie Derham made the final. I found myself muttering things such as ‘ooh, doesn’t she have a lovely hold’ and ‘I’m even more in love with Aljaz’.
From a quickstep, we were then treated to the most gorgeous rumba by Aljaz and Janette to the piece ‘Somewhere in Time’ by John Barry. This number was sublime, and really showcased the true love that these two professional dancers have for each other. The lifts were exquisite, and it was a great contrast from their larger-than-life charleston, into a seductive and passionate rumba, where we all entered their little world. When Aljaz announced that he was truly in love with Janette, I booed. I have no shame for this.
Now, onto a glorious tango by Joanne and Giovanni, full of the flicks and little nuances that give a tango its definition in the ballroom world. Performed to Libertango, it oozed Spanish flavour, so much so I want to sit on a beach drinking sangria*. After the tango came a delightful samba in the form of Kevin and Karen. A small dress malfunction aside, this was knocked out of the park, sending everyone into a frenzy by dancing in their seats. (I’ve since found out that Leslie Odom Jr has sung a version of this, perfect). Kevin and Karen are an extremely bubbly pair, and I want my own Kevin from Grimsby when I grow up.
*I think this most days anyway, not much change there.
We then, sadly arrived at the end of the show; a delightful medley of Top Hat ending with ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’. The show also wouldn’t be complete without a huge confetti cannon, covering the hall in sparkle and glitz; perfect for a Strictly show.
The whole night was Strictly perfect, extremely worthy of a Craig Revel Horwood ’10’ in my opinion. You can catch the performance on BBC4 at 7:30pm on Friday 22nd July! Now, to decide on a song to encapsulate the mood of Strictly is extremely tough, but I think I’m gonna have to go with my favourite dance on Strictly of all time. Albeit this song wasn’t played, but Strictly could do another prom with the best dances of all time! I’d definitely try and get tickets to go to that!