It's strictly for charity as Leeds holds dancing day

By Jessica Elgot, March 25, 2011
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Malcolm Hirschfield, Jane Wynick

Malcolm Hirschfield, Jane Wynick

In tutus, glitter and spandex, 44 Leeds community members took to the floor on Sunday for a charity Strictly Come Dancing-style contest.

The 24 group dancers and 10 couples were cheered on by a total of more than 1,000 fans at sell-out matinee and evening shows at Leeds Grammar School, tickets for the night having been snapped up in minutes.

Presenter Rich Williams from Radio Aire joked: "Take That tickets sold out in half-an-hour. But nothing could compare to the excitement around Dancing Strictly."

There was professional expertise on the judging panel, which included award-winning dancers and ceroc (modern jive) teachers Phil and Alex Motley, who said they were looking for "a connection with the audience" and "a real partnership".

Royal Academy of Dance examiner Gill Caplan hoped to see "technique but also enjoyment". New Zealand Latin dance champion Scott Cole - brother of Strictly Come Dancing judge Brendan Cole - said "fluidity of movement" would be key.

After pre-event tuition from Dance Ceroc teachers Jenny Adams and James Richardson, 10 potential stars were selected to be partnered with more experienced dancers.

The competitors, who had six weeks to prepare their routines, included students, young mums and a former gymnastics champion.

Yossi Cohen, who danced with Emma Baroukh in full zombie costume to Michael Jackson's Thriller, said: "The only dancing experience I've had before was dancing in a club. I didn't expect it to be so much fun."

Debbie Addlestone, who performed to Come Back My Love with David Wynick, wore a Grease-inspired purple ra-ra skirt and bow. "All my kids are coming to see me, from London and Nottingham," she said. "I was shocked to be chosen - lots of us wanted to be picked."

Dancing in a glittery long white dress, Hayley Warner won the evening's audience award for her sultry interpretation of Toni's Braxton's Unbreak My Heart with Alex Ullman. "I'm not a dancer, but I love acting and drama," she confided. "I've absolutely loved this - it's been so much fun."

But it was semi-retired Malcolm Hirschfield who stole the show, winning the judges' award with a score of 38 out of 40 at both the afternoon and evening sessions, and the audience award for the matinee. He danced with Jayne Wynick to Dean Martin's How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning?

Recently arrived in Leeds from Birmingham, he said he had brought a "coach-load" of supporters. "I've been dancing for about 40 years, ballroom and Latin. I was privileged to be picked for this."

Awarding him a perfect 10, Alex Motley observed: "All of the pieces came together. It was strictly delightful." Scott Cole, who had been a harsh critic of other performers, enthused: "That was right up my street. It was classy with perfect partnering."

Mr Hirschfield's prizes were disco mirror balls. "I'll have to put them all up in the house," he said.

Jayne Clynes chaired the Dancing Strictly committee which organised the event in support of Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Brodetsky Primary School, Donisthorpe Hall, Breast Cancer Haven and the Zone Youth Club. Dancers had to raise a minimum £200 in sponsorship and with ticket sales, the event brought in more than £25,000.

"Everyone rose to the challenge and the teachers' commitment and patience was fantastic," Ms Clynes said. The standard was unbelievable."

Last updated: 10:34am, March 25 2011