Ilkley's Strictly dance event proves a big success

First published in Local news
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Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society’s popular version of Strictly Come Dancing kept an enthusiastic audience royally entertained at the town’s King’s Hall.

Now in its third year, the event has become a firm favourite with Strictly fans and follows the same format as the BBC TV show.

The event’s 16 brave volunteers met for the first time on Saturday morning when they were introduced to their partners and told whether they would be tackling ballroom elegance or latin passion.

The newly formed couples were then given just a few hours to learn their routines under the watchful eye of former British ballroom champion Andrew Walton. Hosts Julia Wilson and Tony Walker kept the evening on track and were delighted to introduce live music for the first time from popular Harrogate-based big band Echo 42.

An action-packed first round saw Daniel Hatton gamely completing his dance with Megan Thompson shirtless following a wardrobe malfunction, and Helen Liddell and Simon Loach trying to escape from the dance floor without having to hear the judges’ comments on their feisty tango.

The judges’ roles were taken by society president Ian Wilson — who brought Len Goodman’s good-humoured gravitas to the proceedings – and experienced dance teacher Ned Sproston, whose Bruno Tonioli-style delivery had the audience in fits. They were joined on the panel by last year’s winning couple, Mark Allan – whose trademark Craig Revel Horwood sniping kept everyone laughing – and the dulcet tones and appreciative eye of Stephanie ‘Darcey’ Burgess.

Two of the eight couples were voted through to a nerve-jangling dance-off – Miranda Armitage and Pete Dakin whose acrobatic ending to their jive left the packed audience gasping, and Jo Walters and Chris Barraclough, who set a more sophisticated tone with their romantic waltz.

In the end, it was Miranda and Pete who were awarded the judges’ casting vote and who were worthy winners of this year’s coveted glitterball trophy.

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