It's all strictly for charity

By John Fisher, March 25, 2013
darren Bennett, Lilia Kopylova, Hannah Skolnick and Sagi Yechezkel at the Leeds Dancing Strictly competition

darren Bennett, Lilia Kopylova, Hannah Skolnick and Sagi Yechezkel at the Leeds Dancing Strictly competition

A sea of frills, sequins, hair extensions and false eyelashes splashed over the Leeds Dancing Strictly competition on Sunday — burning the floor and sizzling with energy to raise money for local charities.

The colour co-ordinated sharp and stylish spectacular, staged at Leeds Grammar School and based on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, waltzed into the hearts of a 700-strong audience who whooped for joy at the show’s two-performance unabashed theatricality.

Instructors, given the challenge of transforming lumbering hopefuls into refined twinkle-toes, were given two months, or less, to pull them into shape.

Ten leading dancers and their partners took to the floor in the fourth annual event, alongside two groups of cool youngsters and a cabaret routine.

Jaunty jives and saucy salsas segued into more classic numbers with effortless ease and had judges -- dancing luminaries Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova, comedian Howard Lee and professional adjudicator Gill Caplan — reaching for a mix of nines and 10s.

Mr Lee praised husband and wife team, sixty-something Susan and 78-year-old Tony Kristall.
“I don’t know what batteries you’re working on but they were certainly on full power today,” he told them.

At the matinee, leading dancer Sagi Yechezkel and his partner Hannah Skolnick waltzed off with the judges’ award and the audience text-voted award.

Twenty-one-year-old Mr Yechezkel and Ms Skolnick, also 21, were praised for their funky salsa by judge Mr Bennett who said the couple “gave a full-on energetic commitment to the routine”, and awarded them full marks.
“I can’t believe it, it’s fantastic,” said shell-shocked Ms Skolnick as she lifted the glitter ball trophy.
Three couples with the same score of 37 tied for the judges’ vote and found themselves in a free-style dance-off with Janine Warner jiving with her 70-year-old dad Keith as the pair to lift the coveted glitter ball.

The evening audience vote went to popular pair Joey Gilman and Georgia Mostyn for their “jive-salsa-Charleston” inspired routine.

Mr Bennett and Ms Kopylova, judging for the second year running, said they “had jumped at the chance to appear again” when requested by organiser Jane Clynes.

“We always receive a warm welcome in Leeds and the standard matches the excellence of previous contests — slick, well-organised and thoroughly entertaining. It was obvious everyone worked so hard -— so full marks to all concerned.”

Presenters were ITV’s Quizmania star Debbie King and York’s Minster radio presenter Greg Scott.

The event was hosted by UK Israel Business Northern Region. The £23,000 raised at the event will be distributed to Breast Cancer Haven, Brodetsky Primary School, The Zone, Donisthorpe Hall and Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.

Last updated: 10:45am, March 25 2013