Friday, 29 January 2010

Lets go crazy

The tour this year opens with a jive by the ten professional dancers. Performing to Lets go crazy by Prince, played by the phenomenal Strictly band. The costumes are vibrant red and black. The gents shirts are all red with a black stripe insert in a different place for each dancer. The shirts are stoned red and black and worn with latin style black trousers and a black calf latin shoe.

The five ladies are in red leotards, that all have a unique arrangement of straps and necklines. All have fringing of various types that adds to the movement. Industrial strength fishnets by Capezio, these tights have amazing hold i usually order them from They can also be found in most dance shops. At over £20 a pair they are not cheap but worth every penny due to their durability.These are topped off with a tan satin latin shoe


Thursday, 28 January 2010

Dress Rehearsals

Well the three dress rehearsals we did in Manchester feel like a lifetime ago and it is only two weeks. So bare with me while i try to remember the details. We had several quick changes to work out and the running order was changed a couple of times so that threw things up in the air a little. Of course it all worked out in the end. Discard a few accessories, change a fastening or two and you are off. A quick change is like a formula one pit stop, several people choreographed around the artiste. Most female costumes will have an array of hooks and bars and press studs at the neck, at the back and on the waist. For quick changes large corset hooks are best. We have a few zips but as these can get stuck or split on very tight costumes they are few and far between. Male quick changes are quite different as it is easier for them to put shirts trousers etc on themselves but handing the pieces to the artiste in the right order and the right way around is essential when time is of the essence. maybe fastening cufflinks. Shortcuts to speedy dressing can include elastic shoelaces, elastic cufflinks, Velcro shirt fronts and pre-tied ties with velcro fastening at the back.

We have two major quick change areas backstage, male and female. The set up backstage for each venue is the same, two tent like structures with a resting area in between. Inside the tents each person has a chair with their name above it and their next costume will be set on the chair ready for them. As well as the wardrobe department of four we have two local dressers in each venue to help us with the changes. The hair and make up team have work stations outside each tent, with lit mirrors and chairs.There is also a smaller quick change area closer to the stage for an uber quick change with Kelly brook. The second act starts with a group number involving the whole cast. Kelly and Matthew Cutler are the first couple to dance after this so they change from Charleston to American Smooth in super quick time. The other major quick change is for Kristina Rihanoff after her first dance with Mark Ramprakash. She sprints into the quick change area and we strip her of a corset belt and a tight dress and get her into a backless dress with crossover straps and long gloves for a group professional quickstep.

By the time the first audience sees the show we should have practiced the changes enough times to be confident of a slick show. Two weeks in and i can happily say the formula one style pit stops are working very smoothly.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Strictly arrives

The first week of Strictly has gone in a flash, walking into the Manchester arena collecting my laminated access all areas pass and itinerary ( a little booklet that tells us where and when we are playing and staying) I hit the ground running. A shoe delivery was arriving at the same time. Any dancers reading this will be aware of the many different styles of dance shoe, the differing heel heights and shoe widths. This year we have even more styles than ever. The second act opens with a Charleston, for this the girls wear a low heeled T-bar style shoe that has a pattern in sparkle stones on the front.

The mens shoes are equally complex, tango, tango duo and spanish tango are just a few. These shoes wear out very quickly so we have to anticipate what will be needed in plenty of time to order them and work out which venue they should be posted to . We have a series of calf and nubucks in black, navy and brown but my favourites have to be the black/white patent duo.

So the shoes arrived and were checked against the long long list, then the fun really began. The process of setting up dressing rooms and the backstage quick change areas making sure we have all accessories and everyone knows where and when they will be changing. Then the dress rehearsals began . . .

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Getting it together

So the first week of Rehearsals in London is done. I got to see a little of the group number and it looks like fun. Everyone seems excited about the tour and looking forward to taking the show on the road. We had a day of fittings and i have to say there are some splendid things to come. I wish i could say more but i have to keep tightlipped until we are open.

Most of my week has been spent getting my kit together, attending fittings at the rehearsal room and booking dressers. We hire two dressers to assist us in each venue. They help to dress the performers before and during the show and collect the laundry at the end. Having toured the UK for many years i have many professionals around the country i can call on. They are all very experienced and it's a tonic to see them when we turn up tired and frazzled at each venue. Dressing is quite straightforward but it is always surprising to me how many people don't have the sense they were born with. So these ladies are worth their weight in gold.

I'm typing this on the train to Manchester our first venue having spent the morning at the store loading the truck with the roadcases. Catching up with my three assistants and what they have been up to since we were all last together. We have all done the strictly tour at least once before so i am banking on a smooth tour. Famous last words? I hope not.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

First post

I begin this blog at the start of rehearsals for the Strictly come dancing 2010 tour. I'm hoping to give an insight into the nuts and bolts of backstage life. I won't be dishing any dirt on the people I work with, or providing the redtops with celebrity gossip. I enjoy my job hugely and want to share with you some of my experiences and some of the talented people i work with.

Please bare with me while i get to grips with blogging, i'm not the quickest of people on the technical front but hope to get some photos on here soon at least. I look forward to your comments once i am up and running.