SIXTEEN dancers are all set to dazzle an audience with their fancy footwork at tomorrow night’s glitzy Strictly Oxford competition.
Local figures, including headteachers, company chairmen and radio DJs, will be partnered with Headington’s semi-professional dancers from Step By Step Dance School for the grand show at the city’s New Theatre.
Compere for the night’s proceedings is TV personality Christopher Biggins and among the judges are famous radio DJ ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris and Oxford Mail columnist and Radio Oxford presenter Bill Heine.
Tickets sales from the event, inspired by BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, will raise money for Vale House, a nursing home in Sandford-on-Thames that provides specialist end-of-life care for people with dementia.
Last year the event raised more than £40,000 for the home.
Co-organiser Jane Cranston, above, who is urging more people to grab tickets and join in the fun tomorrow night, said: “Last year’s show was really amazing. When we started this three years ago we had no idea how big it would grow.”
Among this year’s dancers is Karen Warmington who is also a carer at Vale House.
She said: “I’m very nervous, but also excited.
“The training has actually gone pretty well, considering we only had six weeks.
“The professional dancers are amazing at teaching us, we have never danced before.
“I would love to win, for Vale House, but there are far better dancers in the competition than me.”
David Bellan is shown the way by Nikita Vince at the Strictly Oxford rehearsals Picture: OX65960 David Fleming
Each couple will perform a cha-cha-cha and a tango, with two couples taking to the floor at once.
The judging panel will then score the dances out of 10, and the audience will be able to vote by text for their favourite couples. The five couples with the highest scores will then dance again, this time each performing their own individual choreography.
The judges and audience will then choose the winner.
The event’s other organiser Mary Carey said: “The dancers are looking fantastic, the standard is very high. It’s almost never the people you would expect to win. For that audience vote, your personality during the dance is absolutely crucial, just as much as skill.”
The final is at the New Theatre on George Street at 6.30pm, and tickets cost between £15 and £43.
To book tickets visit atgtickets.com/oxford or call 0844 8717 627.
- Karen Warmington, 38, carer at Vale House: “I am taking part in this event because, having worked at Vale House for almost seven years, it is a charity very dear to my heart.”
- Emma Stanfield, 40, DJ for Radio Cherwell: “I don’t have any professional dancing experience but I used to do ballet when I was younger.”
- Sue Staunton, partner and head of technology at James Cowper LLP: “My experience of dancing is patchy – as a child I did ballet but it says it all that I was the spider or the bee when the others were fairies or flowers.”
- Jane Dixon, head of Denman College: “I think Vale House is a great charity and show me a woman who hasn’t dreamed of wearing one of those sparkly dresses.”
- Linda Wastie, 60, administrator for W Lucy & Co Ltd: “I think I can help raise lots of money for Vale House and didn’t want to miss this opportunity.”
- Lynn Knapp, 54, headteacher at Windmill Primary School in Headington: “I got involved with the Strictly Junior competition earlier this year. I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t wait to be involved in the adult version.”
- Lesley Smith, researcher in maternal and women's health at Oxford Brookes University: “My job is all about ways to improve the health and wellbeing of young women. It will be a great way to keep fit and have fun.”
- Deborah Mackin, 52, director of Cafe Coco said: “My husband had such a fantastic time doing it two years ago that I decided to follow in his footsteps.”
- David Bellan, dance critic for The Oxford Times, and former BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4 presenter: “I have been watching dance for several decades now – part of my work, but I would have done anyway, as I love it.”
- Jeremy Smith, 52, features editor for Newsquest Oxfordshire: “I’m looking forward to raising much-needed money. Vale House is a pioneering care home and I have a very personal reason for wanting to help those affected by this most debilitating of illnesses.”
- Mike Jennings, 57, businessman and chairman of Jennings: “I had a major operation in October, so I am doing this to stretch myself physically, to learn to dance, and because I was asked.”
- George Martini, director of Salsa Kids in Oxfordshire schools and Zumba teacher: “Entering Strictly Oxford will take me out of my comfort zone. Alzheimer’s could happen to anybody and fundraising for this concern is a must and I am glad to be part of it.”
- Ignacio Lamata Martinez – nicknamed Nacho – earthquake engineering researcher at Oxford University: “I have been too focused on my work recently, so my motivation is to blow the dust off my hips and to contribute raising funds for people that need it.”
- Ben Molyneux, 40, founder of The Oxfordshire Project: “I have a habit of not being able to say no to new challenges, so I jumped on board.”
- Andrew Leadbitter, 68, consultant at Morgan Cole: “My reasons for competing? In Miss World they used to say world peace and travel. I suspect raising money for charity and accepting a challenge might do.”
- Donald Sloan, 43, head of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, Oxford Brookes University: “I am taking part to give my students something to laugh about, and as a result of Bill Heine catching me in a moment of weakness.”