***** Strictly Proms
BBC Television’s two most successful franchises, The Proms and Strictly Come Dancing, brought 5,000 lucky enthusiasts to their feet at the Hall last Thursday.
Katie Derham, the Voice of the Proms and a semi-finalist in last year’s Strictly, compered a show to gladden the heart of any music or dance enthusiast.
To dance maker Jason Gilkinson’s steps, the Strictly Six, led by Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec apparently burst through the floor and swept us off our feet on one of the most enjoyable evenings I have ever spent at the Proms.
Many people may dismiss this sort of programme planning as distasteful crowd pleasing, but I bet Erik Satie (Gymnopedie No 1) and Aram Khachaturian (Masquerade) – not to mention Tchaikovsky – would have loved every minute of it.
Who needs earphones when lush, deeply-loved melodies reach into every nook and cranny of the Hall’s crimson and gold elegance? Kevin “From Grimsby” Clifton received the biggest cheer as he entered with wife Karen.
Then, in a favourite Ballroom Waltz to Erik Satie’s tender Gymnopodie, Joanne Clifton and Giovanni Pernice reminded us what it’s all about – that life-changing aspect of the male/female union, often called love. Brave Katie Derham picked up that thread – though she appeared to have no difficulty in the process, with Skorjanic in a Viennese Waltz.
After the interval I have rarely heard such screams of approval in the Hall as Skorjanic threw Derham about a lot in Harry Warren’s 42nd Street and then, of course came the Argentinian Tango, energetically stamped out by Joanna Clifton and Giovanni Pernice. Then we had the Rhumba, the Samba and Let’s Face the Music and Dance. And there’s no answer to that.
The famous bust of Henry Wood, the Proms founder, oversaw the proceedings on his plinth by the organ and I swear the smile never left his face. And the cheeks of an ex-dancer of a certain age were severely exercised, too.
STRICTLY PROMS at the Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 (One night only; Proms tickets 0207 589 8212/bbc.co.uk/proms)