The stage is home to some of life’s most uplifting, emotional moments. Particularly when growing up, children and young adolescents face their fears on stage and discover who they truly are.
For this reason, it’s no surprise our most popular TV shows occur on a stage. As the audience, we get to sit back and watch the story unfold as celebrities and members of the public face the challenge of performance and watch as they either succeed, or equally fail.
As Strictly Come Dancing- typically Britain’s highest rated show of the last 3 years- returns to our screen proper for another showcase of sensational stories on stage, we’ve pulled together to highlight the 10 Greatest Dances in the show’s 13-year history.
These were the dances which captivated the audience and highlighted the performers at the height of their fabled ‘journeys’ through the show. Whilst Strictly is scripted and pitched primarily as an entertainment show, the inspiration it provides to youngsters to try their hand at dancing, bringing with it the confidence only gained from standing and being counted before your peers, reinforces the value of the stage to our development.
With that in mind, let’s reminisce about some of Strictly’s most memorable dancing explosions of emotion.
10. Chris & Ola’s Charleston (Series 7)
If there was ever an example of a zero to hero story it would be that of 2009 winner Chris Hollins. Far from the most accomplished dancer on the show, Hollins won the hearts of the public with his down-to-earth humility and consistently entertaining performances.
Hollins’ victory on the show was proof that raw talent isn’t necessarily the be all and end all to succeed and that an honest feeling of real-life emotion and heart was equally important. His Charleston, by far the highlight of that series, was the culmination of his story and a true feel-good moment for a man who admittedly wasn’t at all confident in his dancing abilities.
9. Alesha & Matthew’s Showdance (Series 5)
At the opposite end of the scale, Alesha Dixon is one of the most talented dancers in the history of the show, placing #2 all time in average overall scores.
Her final dance- the climaxing Showdance- closed series 5 with a shuddering bang, as she wowed the live audience and viewing public with a dynamic performance of equally profound grace and strength to Bonnie Tyler’s “Hero”.
8. Rachel & Vincent’s Rumba (Series 6)
It’s always said that emotion is the name of the game and emotion was what Rachel Stevens brought to this performance of the sultry, seductive Rumba, one week after she was almost eliminated from the show.
The sizzling hot number made easy work of what is notoriously one of the hardest dances on the show and proved to be the turning point in the series for Rachel. She would go on to finish runner up that year and become the 4th highest scored dancer in the show’s history.
7. Tom & Camilla’s Showdance (Series 6)
This was the dance which defeated Rachel, as actor Tom Chambers pulled a rabbit out of the hat to win the 2008 series of the show, with a quirky, eclectic and spellbinding performance.
Utilising his acting chops to their fullest extent, Chambers’ showdance was filled with story, character and personality and was enough to propel him from third place the week prior into Strictly’s 6th winner on finals day.
6. Abbey & Aljaž’s Waltz (Series 11)
Abbey Clancy won the 11th series of Strictly in 2013 and capped it off with this exquisite, divine, and heavenly performance in the final.
Transforming from simple woman into into the breathing picture of angelic grace, she used her long frame to create some truly stunning visual lines. The dance was marked a perfect 40 by the judges and when you watch the video back, it’s not hard to see why. She went to another level.
5. Jake & Janette’s Salsa (Series 12)
Eastenders actor Jake Wood ultimately didn’t even make the final of last year’s edition of the show, yet produced easily the stand-out dance of the series in only the second week with a twisting, contorting, mind-bending Salsa, unlike anything seen before or since on Strictly.
The live audience in the studio erupted at the conclusion of this routine, serenading the performers and leaving the judges mouth agape and applauding on their feet. It was truly a routine that will probably be duplicated, at least in part, but never, ever replicated.
4. Louis & Flavia’s Showdance (Series 10)
Olympic silver medalist Louis Smith entered and won Strictly 10 off of the back of his Olympic success in 2012 and wowed the viewing public for 14 solid weeks with athletic, powerful and vigorous performances.
By far the standout dance, however, was his freestyle Showdance, which highlighted the raw strength gymnasts possess to excel in their class. Mixing graceful lifts with smooth and seamless twists, Louis left the competition well in his wake.
3. Kara & Artem’s American Smooth (Series 9)
Kara Tointon’s Strictly story is richer than any other.
Winning the fabled 9th series of the show in 2010, Kara was the prime factor in turning Strictly’s fortunes around and setting them on the road to overhauling The X Factor as Britain’s most watched show.
Kara’s partnership with Artem Chigvintsev worked like a dream as the two would go on to form a real-life relationship which would last the following four years, a story which Strictly produces lapped up and made the headline of that series’ shows.
Their story reached its high point in Blackpool, when an injured Chigvintsev found the reserves to perform this knockout performance with Kara, encapsulating the audience, and rebelling in the face of the judges in the process.
In the end, that didn’t matter. Kara won over the British public with her story and her incredible dancing, leaving many fans assured she was the most undermarked celebrity in Strictly history, never receiving the perfect 40 score.
2. Mark & Karen’s Salsa (Series 4)
Cricketer Mark Ramprakash undertook the renowned Strictly ‘journey’ in 2006, going from awkward and shy to superstar dancer over 14 short weeks.
He suffered from a live microphone mishap the first time he danced his corner-turning Salsa, before returning to have a second pop at the dance in final, producing only the second perfect score in Strictly Come Dancing history.
This dance has become synonymous with Strictly folklore as one of its true classic dances. Performed on the live tours and reprised in 2009, it’s an all time hit with Strictly fans.
1. Jill & Darren’s Jive (Series 2)
This was the first ever Strictly dance to get a perfect score, in the final of the its second season and has remained its overall standout performance ever since. Not without reason, as scores of ten, let alone a perfect score, were much harder to come by in the early series’, with only three perfect scores handed out in the entire first five series’.
This Jive has such become the preeminent superb Strictly dance. Back in the mid-2000s when the show wasn’t receiving nearly the amount of budget it was in later years, the quality of celebrity they were able to attract was much lower. Hence, for Jill Halfpenny to produce a dance which stands up ahead of the rest to this date stands as testament to its quality and her quality as a performer.
She would go on to win the show- the first full length series- and set the standard for all future seasons of the show to this very day.
Strictly’s 13th season is underway bringing with it the promise of new stories, new ‘journeys’ and, of course, new spellbinding dances.
As we watch the series unfold and observe the performers facing the challenges of performing in front of a national audience, striving or struggling; succeeding or failing, let’s take a moment to appreciate the power and impact of the stage.
Whether dancing, like on Strictly, singing, acting, making a speech or performing stand up comedy, the stage is a haven for discovery. We’re proud to do our part in building the platform for people to find their niche in life and discover their passions.
Who knows? Maybe one day someone who once strutted onto a UniStage will strut onto the fabled Strictly stage too.