Sicilian dance superstar and Strictly Come Dancing alumnus Giovanni Pernice is the latest TV dance pro to take his own personal show on the road and it is arguably, the best one yet.
What this stunning show, il ballo è vito (Dance is Life), demonstrates is that the TV dance behemoth Strictly suffocates the personality of its stars. As a regular viewer of the show, I would be hard pressed to express what I thought Pernice’s personality was – the tabloid gossip about a romance with his celebrity partner the only hint of the man behind the smile. In reality Pernice has a winning and highly charming personality and instead of show-boating in the limelight, he is so comfortable in his ability to shine that he creates a show in which all of his cast get a turn in the spotlight.
There is real artistry here, and under the direction and choreography of Strictly director of choreography Jason Gilkison, there’s so much that delights. The first act has a charming Italian theme, with innovative and beautifully staged classics such as: Volare, Mambo Italiano, That’s Amore and Tu Vuo Fa’ L’Americano. There’s also a funny interlude when a member of the audience joins Giovanni on stage to share some food, Lady and the Tramp style – much to the amusement of the audience. Unlike many of these contrived moments in other dance shows, Pernice’s ease with the audience and genuine charm allows him to pull it off with aplomb. The second act is a tale based on the love story of Pernice’s grandmother and grandfather set to a contemporary and classic soundtrack.
The choreography is simply stunning and the sheer speed and originality of the footwork on display is breath-taking. Pernice is truly a class apart. Mention must be made too of the excellent set and lighting (and shadow) design that enhances the choreography beautifully throughout.
Pernice shows he is a team player, more than ably supported by a team of professionals (including the highly talented Russian dancer Luba Mushtuk), he allows each their chance to shine.
There’s a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere throughout and the ease in the interactions with the audience make this show stand out. This is a classy affair, beautifully staged, and the best Stricty alumni show so far. Catch it if you can.
Following the familiar format of a bit of dance, a bit of song, a bit of chat, and some audience participation, Strictly Come Dancing alumni Iain Waite and Natalie Lowe sashay into town with their first live show A Touch of Class.
The personable pair glide through a selection of classic ballroom dances, an audience Q & A and some backstage chat about their colleagues on Strictly. The two are gifted dancers and their grace and elegance is a joy to watch, making these undoubtedly difficult routines look effortless.
Waite is a natural showman (as evidenced by his appearances on Strictly It Takes Two) and hogs the mic, relishing the backstage gossip and saucy quips. Lowe is softer than her on-screen persona, an advocate for traditional ballroom, she comes across as genuinely thankful for the opportunities that dance has given her.
The action is punctuated by swing classics from Luke Upton – an intense young man with a fine voice but a rather inflated stage presence and a gimlet stare. Local choir Voice of the Town tackle some pop standards throughout the night to allow for costume changes, but one can’t help get the feeling from the audience reaction that they would rather have had some more dance.
There are no zippy Latin routines here, just good old-fashioned traditional ballroom at his best – as the title suggests – a class act. A bit more dance would have been nice, though.
Removed from the constraints of competing in Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan Cole gets the chance to highlight his considerable choreographic and performance skills to a packed house in Glasgow on his Night to Remember tour.
Despite suffering from pneumonia, a visibly pale and thin Cole presents the most spectacular and professional production of any of the Strictly alumni. The programme carefully curated to appeal to a wide audience: the music a mix of old and new and the choreography both modern and classic.
The dancing is interspersed with songs from vocalists Iain MacKenzie and Julie Maguire and there’s the ubiquitous Q & A session where fans get the chance to ask their dance hero some personal questions.
To his great credit Cole performs with gusto despite suffering from serious and debilitating illness and his cast, band and singers are of the highest quality. The set and costumes also set Cole’s production head and shoulders above his peers. A class act from start to finish, Cole’s show always delivers.
The Siberian terpsichorean and Strictly Come Dancing reigning champion, Pasha Kovalev returns to Scotland with his newest show: Life Through Dance showcases the perennial favourite’s impressive choreographic and dancing skills as well as providing an insight into his journey from child in Russia to worldwide favourite.
In the near two and a half hour show Kovalev is accompanied by two professional pairs (Ryan Hammond & Marcella Solimeo and James Wilson & Leila Stewart) as well as his original professional partner Anya Garnis and delivers a whirlwind tour of dance styles neatly linked by big screen footage of Kovalev talking of his inspiration for, and motivation to, dance. The set is simple but effective and is complemented by inventive lighting and projections.
Kovalev’s sheer class shines through and despite the undoubted talent and quality of the other dancers, Kovalev is simply in a different class. The effortlessness with which he executes each routine is breathtaking.
Kovalev’s warm personality shines throughout and at times he’s like a little boy on Christmas morning, such is his delight at the reaction of the crowd. A quality evening and hopefully not the last time we see him here in Scotland.