As I’m sure, many of you know about how much Strictly has meant to me over the past two years or so, as well as the people who I’ve met through the show. Toward the end of 2016, I had the chance to begin starting to meet some of the people who I’d gotten to know of because of the show. Having lived in New York for the first (almost two) years of discovering my deep love for Strictly, and the happiness that it brought me, I decided that when I moved to England, I would save to attend the live tours of my favourite professional dancers. And a month before my move to England, I started making that dream come true.
For anyone who knows me, I’m sure you all know how my bond with Katie Derham began (and if not, read here) but it’s not just because of her that I loved the show. There were a few other professional dancers who I also grew to support, and my support for more of them had developed over the past few years. But, while sticking to my promise that I would attend to see the live tours of my favourite professional dancers, it began with Katie’s professional partner for the main series, Anton du Beke and his professional partner, Erin Boag on their tour From Broadway to Hollywood.
Being as it was still August, and I was living in New York, when the tickets were released, I didn’t know anyone else who lived close enough to London who would want to go with me. So naturally, I figured to also keep with the theme of taking this solo adventure of moving to England, I decided that I’d buy that first row ticket to his and Erin’s show and go alone. Naturally, for the last few days leading up to the show, I was anxious about going alone, which only formed into worry when Erin ended having to cancel the two shows before mine because she was ill. But luckily, she was better by the day of my show, and after my own struggles with getting slightly lost on the way to the Barbican that day, it was well worth it.
When I got to the theatre, I was lucky that I arrived early enough to walk around for a bit, just to see the crowd. It was a variety of ages, which doesn’t surprise me given the fact that I’d observed the same when attending the Strictly Come Dancing tour in Manchester two weekends previously. But I managed to get a programme and walk around the lobby before the doors to the theatre itself had opened. Since I was almost in the middle of the front row and managed to get into the theatre itself as soon as the doors were open, it was nice to sit down for a few minutes before the show started. Another thing that made it super enjoyable before the show had even begun was the fact that a woman who had also come by herself was seated next to me (and of course, I forgot to ask her name). We both had no idea how close we’d be – the stage was in touching distance (!) and we started chatting about our expectations for the show before it began.
As I’d expected – having not read any reviews or comments about the show – and only hearing from a friend who had seen the show a few weeks previously that I would love it. But even that was an understatement in itself. When I saw the Strictly tour a few weeks previously, there were moments when I thought that I’d start crying at how beautiful it was done. But before the end of the first act of Anton and Erin’s tour, I’d already managed to cry over a few of the dances – and being in the front row, I’m fairly certain that anyone who happened to glance down at me noticed it. One thing that I absolutely loved about this tour is that it wasn’t just Anton and Erin on stage throughout the show, they also had six backing dancers; Scott, Luke, Crystal, Emma-Joy, Victoria and Adam – along with Lance Ellington providing the vocals and the London Concert Orchestra. There were times when neither Anton or Erin would be on stage and instead, we’d be able to take in the talent of their backing dancers, the orchestra or Lance singing in between changes.
By the end of the first act, I was in shock that there was still more to come. During the interval, the woman who I was seated beside and I spent the majority of the time discussing our favourite numbers, as well as our thoughts on simply being so close. (There were moments when we were almost able to feel the stage shake if we rested our feet against the front of it or catch one of the loose feathers that occasionally came loose from the feathered boas.) It was during this time that I also told the woman sitting next to me about how I’d written Anton a letter, and we joked about how, at the end of the show, I should just throw it across the stage. But then we laughed and said that knowing my luck, it would slide under the orchestra and he’d never see it, and knowing me, if I’d done that, it would have happened.
As the second act began, (not) to my surprise, I was even more blown away by this half of the show and the content in it. A few of the numbers reduced me to tears, and I’m grateful that they were silent tears since I was right in the front row. One thing that was also incredible to watch throughout the show was that, as well as Lance covering the majority of the songs or preforming a few solo songs himself, Anton and Erin also sang a few songs as well – while dancing. Another thing that I loved is that the show wasn’t number after number, and instead, Anton and Erin would stop occasionally and chat to the audience. Before the interval, we’d been told that there was a question box in the lobby and if we had any questions, then we should fill out one of the cards and drop it in the box. So in between numbers, Anton and Erin took the time to talk about their time on Strictly, growing to love dance, and a few questions about their lives as well.
By the end of the show, I was in shock over how quickly the last two and a half hours had flown and I was sad by the end of it. But my excitement still wasn’t over. As I mentioned before, I wrote a letter to Anton before the show, and had hopes of giving it to him. Since I couldn’t stay after the show to stage door, I decided that I’d take a calculated risk and try to get his attention as the show was finishing. As everyone finished their final bows, I set my phone on the stage (remember, I was less than an arms length from it) and grabbed the letter from my purse. Luckily for me, Anton was on my side of the stage, so as he got ready to walk off, I sort of held it up and waved. He came over to grab it, which I’m forever grateful about since I wanted to make sure that he got it – though I still have no idea if he remembers me from meeting me over a year ago. (Though I don’t know if he spotted the back of my phone case, where I have tucked a photo of Katie and I, so it’s possible that he knows.)
All in all, the tour was such a worthwhile experience and I’m so happy that I went, even if I didn’t get to properly meet Anton and Erin like I’d hoped to. But after this year, I’m determined to go back next year and meet them properly to tell them how incredible it is to see them dance. Thanks to Strictly, I have rediscovered my love of dance and with that, found a handful of incredible professional dancers to support year round.
(Click here to read my blog post on the second time that I saw the show.)
Top Favourite Numbers from Anton and Erin’s show:
✩ Umbrella/A Fella With an Umbrella
✩ It Only Happens When I Dance With You
✩ I Gotta Be Me
✩ Chicago Medley
✩ This Was Nearly Mine
✩ Cry Me a River
✩ Me and My Shadow
✩ If They Could See Me Now
✩ New York, New York