Strictly no room for error as dancers put final touches to routine for CLAN event


The big night and the culmination of weeks of hard work will take place at Clickimin tomorrow as 16 dancers take the floor in the CLAN 1,2,3 fundraiser Strictly CLAN Dancing.

The dance steps have been perfected, the band has practised and practised and the costumes, hair and make-up are all organised. Now there are just the last minute nerves to contend with.

The event has grown in a way no-one anticipated, and it will truly be Saturday night fever tomorrow.

Eight couples, each comprising one “professional” dancer and one local “celebrity”, will take part in an event that has attracted unprecendented interest – 900 tickets sold in 40 minutes and proceedings will be relayed to the bowls hall, where more people will take the audience to more than 1,000.

Everyone will be keen to see well-known figures step outside their comfort zone, to marvel at the dresses and their hopefully fancy footwork. Will ballroom veterans be victorious or will the champions be 17-year-old newcomers Shane and Michelle? And will a John Sergeant underdog emerge to captivate the punters?

Couples have put together their own routines for the quickstep, waltz, tango and cha-cha, and have been working at them for two months, dancing to CDs. They saw each others’ efforts at last at a dress rehearsal on Sunday (under the watchful eyes of the CLAN fundraising committee) when they danced for the first time to the music of the specially-assembled seven-piece band, the Alan Nicolson Orchestra. They have never so far danced at Clickimin.

Sunday left the performers, in the words of professional Maddy Maddison, “supercharged”. And CLAN fundraising committee chairwoman Elaine Jamieson said: “The dancers excelled themselves and the band was brilliant. It’s really come good and I’m confident it will be a really good night.”

Tomorrow’s event will follow the general format of the TV show, with couples receiving half their votes from the judges and half from the public (who will vote by putting pound coins in buckets for the dancers they want to win, the heaviest indicating who will go through to the next round) and gradually being eliminated.

The first round will comprise quickstep or waltz, after which two couples will be eliminated, followed by a second round which will repeat the process. The third round will be the tango or cha-cha and will again result in the elimination of two couples. The grand final will be a dance-off between the two remaining couples, who will perform a dance of their choice.

The dresses, hair and make-up are all part of the complete look for the female contestants. Many of the dancers have provided their own outfits, and Scalloway salon Sharp Image will be in charge of the hairstyles. Marie Sharp and Julie Keith of the salon said they were glad to be part of the event, while Irene Smith of Health and Beauty will be ensuring glamour with make-up. “I’m delighted and excited to be enhancing the ladies’ overall appearance,” she said.

The video link to the bowls hall has taken days of work from producer David Wagstaff and his team to install, and will take days to dismantle.

The orchestra, such a vital part of the proceedings, will be also be disbanded after the event, which has been sponsored in its entirety by Hamish Balfour of Shetland Transport.

Professional Maddy Maddison, cleaning supervisor with SIC and dance teacher at Sound Dance Club, said: “I’ll be extremely nervous, excited isn’t the right word. I just hope I don’t make a mistake.” His partner Jane Moncrieff, a BBC Radio Shetland reporter, said: “I’ve been getting really excited in the last few days. It’s nerve-wracking – we had no idea it would be such a big event when we agreed to do it.”

Professional Graeme Halcrow, shop manager and dance teacher at Scalloway Boating Club and Islesburgh, said: “Everything is going fine, the rehearsal went really well although everyone was really nervous. The band were excellent. I’m really scared at the moment, hopefully the nerves will go but I’ll only ken on the night. I’ll just concentrate and ignore the public.” His partner, Ann Black, Shetland Charitable Trust general manager, said: “I’m incredibly nervous but I’m doing some positive thinking and I’m sure it’ll be alright on the night. I just have to remember it’s for fun.”

Professional Michelle Stove, farm hand at Gremista Farm, said: “I’m looking forward to Saturday night, I can’t wait. We’ve got our dance routine into our heads now and we’re polishing it to perfection.” Her partner, Shane Jamieson, said: “I’m really looking forward to it but the amount of people coming is quite scary. It doesn’t matter who wins because everyone has put in so much time and effort – the winner is irrelevant really as long as we put on a show and hopefully raise a lot of money.”

Professional Marilyn Harris, a retired occupational therapist whose hobby is dancing, said: “I’ve never danced in front of such a lot of people before, it’s a hobby for me and good exercise.” Her partner, accountant James Hutton, said: “I’m nervously looking forward to a fun evening on Sat­urday.”

Professional Jim Grains, builder and crofter and experienced dancer, said: “I agree with my partner Valerie!” Valerie (Nicolson, AHS head teacher) said: “I hadn’t had much time to think about this during the term, but now that we have the school holidays, the nerves are fairly setting in. No-one is thinking they can win – everyone is just thinking about surviving 90 seconds without tripping, breaking ankles and ripping their tights.”

Professional James Ward, technician with SIC education department and member of dance clubs at Scalloway and Islesburgh, said: “I’m nervous but it’s for a good cause so it should be OK. I’m looking at it as a challenge, but the real winners will be the CLAN people.” His partner Lara Thomason, owner of Eric Brown Raleigh Cycles, said: “I’ve never been so nervous about anything. It’s being under the spotlight and doing something you’re not used to. I’ve loved learning to dance and would like to continue, but to do it in front of 1,000 people … at the dress rehearsal I couldn’t stop shaking.”

Lena Miller, proprietor of Healthcraft and experienced dan­cer, said: “I don’t know if I’m confident, I haven’t performed in front of 1,000 people before. Waiting will be the worst, I’ll be taking rescue remedy from the shop that I give to people frightened of the dentist. We’ll be happy to go out and try out best and just get around the dance floor.” Her partner, Radio Shetland’s John Johnston, said: “I’m very, very nervous but we’ve been practising hard, almost every night. I’ve never danced before and it’s been very hard, especially the quickstep, but my partner has been great and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve got no expectation of winning, I’m just going to do my best and raise as much as possible for charity.”

Professional Diane Watt, retired, who teaches dancing at night class and Scalloway Boating Club and Islesburgh, said: “Everything’s going well. Everyone was nervous at the rehearsal on Sunday and we all made mistakes. I could have done with more practice with my partner but we’ll muddle through. Just so long as none of us falls flat on our faces.” Her partner, Tavish Scott MSP, said: “It’s going very well and the full practice on Sunday was great. There are some stars amongst us who I suspect will provide considerable entertainment. I won’t make any predictions because the voting public is supreme. I hadn’t danced any of these dances before but it’s been great fun to learn, now we’re trying to get the detail right. The harder you work the better you get, it’s like sport or politics.”


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