The Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers have begun their UK tour showcasing Latin and ballroom dances to a number of songs from music greats including Beyonce, David Bowie, Shania Twain and Snow Patrol.
Strictly winner Jowita Przystal and finalists Karen Hauer, Gorka Marquez and Carlos Gu were among those performing in glamorous costumes live for Hull’s Bonus Arena on Tuesday evening, kicking off the 31-date tour across England, Wales and Scotland.
Other performers from the BBC’s flagship show included top competitors Dianne Buswell, Vito Coppola, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin, Luba Mushtuk and Nancy Xu.
The debut featured showstopping group performances and couples performances, as well as a Disney tribute and an 80s mega mix.
It also included choreography to Let’s Dance by Bowie, Crazy In Love from Beyonce, Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars and Man! I Feel Like A Woman! from Twain.
It is the first Strictly tour for reigning champion Przystal, who won the Glitterball trophy in 2022 with TV presenter Hamza Yassin, and Gu, who came runner-up with actress and singer Molly Rainford.
Polish-born Przystal said: “I just feel happy and blessed. On the TV show, the spotlight is on the celebrities who are given 90 seconds to perform a routine. The stage show is something else.
“For one thing, there’s no real competition involved, just the enjoyment of the dances. I don’t think I’ll be nervous.”
While Chinese professional Gu said: “All the other professionals have told me this is going to be a spectacular experience.
“I’m very aware that there can be no second takes. Get it wrong and you just have to carry on. But that’s what’s going to get the adrenaline pumping. A live audience always brings out the best in me.”
11-time Italian Latin American Champion Coppola, who still speaks to his former dancing partner Fleur East “every day”, said of the tour: “I can’t wait to experience that feeling when the curtain goes up. I can’t wait to feel the love. I love Strictly, it’s completely changed my life.”
Meanwhile Buswell said the professional tour was her “favourite”, adding that it will be her birthday during the show on May 6 in Glasgow.
Speaking about what makes it special, she added: “I think it’s the passion we have for dancing. When we’re all together doing what we love, it generates a sort of magic.
“I get quite emotional at the end of the show when I look at the audience and see the love shining out of their eyes.
“I swear that people leave the theatre with more energy than when they arrived.”
Chinese professional Zu described the tour as a “dream come true”, Jones said it was “uniquely intimate”, while Ukrainian Nikita Kuzman said: “As simple as it sounds, the thing I’m looking forward to most is dancing with my fellow professionals.
“It gives us the freedom to do what we love doing most and to do so in front of people who are there because they love the TV show. I can’t wait to see the happiness in their eyes, the joy I hope we’ll bring them.”
Strictly veteran Hauer, who has been with the show since 2012, said the tour can be “exhausting” but “you never tire of the opportunity to showcase whatever talents you have”.
She is part of a routine which sees two females dancing together, following on from her partnership with comedian Jayde Adams on the show in 2022.
Fellow veteran Marquez, who has come runner-up three times on the show, said: “On the TV show, our job is to make the celebrities shine.
“On the tour, it’s our chance to show off our skills and to tell our personal stories.
“It’s also a way of thanking the audience for their love and support.”
For tour and ticket details: StrictlyTheProfessionals.com