Organisers of the dance mat contest at the Town Hall are now urging the public to support Shetland’s bid for a set of the mats by taking part in the phone vote on Monday.
SIC’s Dance to the Beat! project aims to improve fitness throughout the isles by setting up dance and exercise programmes using an electronic dance mat gaming system. The project has been shortlisted for up to £50,000 of lottery funding and will be featured on STV’s regional news at 6pm on Monday – but it will be competing with another project and the bid’s success depends on the public’s vote.
The weekend’s event, in which 16 well-known locals competed in Strictly Mat Dancing, was designed to highlight what can be done with the mats. The event, which was compered by Scalloway Junior High pupil support teacher Patrick Robertson, attracted a “really good turn-out”, according to active schools co-ordinator Louise Jamieson who is behind the project to win the money from the People’s Millions. The public were able to have a go after the contest, when they “flooded” onto the floor to try them out.
People dance on the mats by placing their feet according to directions on a screen. The screen showed the moves to follow with arrows corresponding to arrows on the mats, which have a square of nine pads.
The competitors danced to music which could be anything from 1960s classics to current hits, each with a corresponding “dance” routine. The games on Sunday were played with the competitors facing a large screen, away from the audience and with the crowd laughing and cheering them on.
Four teams took part, with the winner from each round going through to the final. The scoring system was done as a percentage of how accurate the person was at hitting the right arrow on the mat, with the person with the best percentage winning.
Team one comprised Guizer Jarl Stephen Mouat (who won the round) Jarl-elect Rae Simpson, Tesco manager Paul Clelland and Co-op manager Don Wilson. Team two boasted active schools co-ordinator James Johnston, teacher Kevin Smith, table tennis player Lynda Flaws, who won the heat, and runner and netball player Inga Woods.
The third team was MSP Tavish Scott, councillor Gussie Angus, council deputy chief executive Hazel Sutherland and director of public health (and heat winner) Sarah Taylor.
Team four comprised singer Sheila Henderson, Bryan Peterson of Shetland Arts, who went through to the final, music teacher Peter Woods and head of schools service Helen Budge.
The final bout between Stephen Mouat, Lynda Flaws, Sarah Taylor and Bryan Peterson of Shetland Arts resulted in Bryan being the overall winner.
Rick Nickerson presented the unlikely winner with his trophy, and Bryan – suitably decked out in high performance “sportswear” (aka charity shop finds) pledged the £200 raised on the evening to the RNLI.
He said: “I had no idea what I was getting into when I agreed to take part, but the dance mats are easy to learn and it’s a really good laugh. The competition on Sunday was stiff and it was a photo finish between Sarah Taylor and I.”
He joked about a career in dance: “I think this is the catalyst I’ve needed to take things to the next level, probably specialising in freestyle street jazz or contemporary dance. It’s the first trophy I’ve ever won and I very much look forward to defending my title next year.”
Ms Jamieson now hopes Shetlanders at home and away will vote on Monday. The number to ring will become known at 9am that day and lines close at midnight. She said: “If Shetland wins the public vote, community groups the length and breadth of the islands will have the opportunity to enjoy a fun dance activity in their area. I have an exciting vision of young and old coming together to have a brilliant time.”
The demonstration set of four mats which has recently been in Shetland was loved by schoolchildren who tried them out on Monday and Tuesday, said Ms Jamieson. Shetland’s lottery bid is for 24 mats.
On Monday Shetland will be battling against Moray Art Centre from Forres. Moray Art Centre’s Scary Monsters! project will involve groups within three local communities, working with professional artists to create at least three environmental art works which will be displayed on sites within the community.
This year across the UK £3.5 million will be awarded by the public through The People’s Millions. Over the last four years the programme has handed out £18.1 million to 318 good causes across the UK with more than 1.6 million people voting for their favourite project.