The large dazzling glitterball above the Royal Albert Hall arena and the searchlights above the stage heralded a very different event in the Prom season with the arrival of the Strictly Prom. The theme of the evening was the connection between classical music and dance, and with Katie Derham, the evening had a host who is one of the BBC Proms main presenters but enjoyed considerable success on the popular BBC show Strictly Come Dancing. Katie was joined by a number of professionals from Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC Concert Orchestra and English National Ballet Music Director Gavin Sutherland.
The connection with orchestral music and dance has been a constant theme for centuries and often illustrate the changing fashions from the waltzes of 19th century Vienna to the tango from Buenos Aires.
The evening began with music from two seminal American musicals, Jule Styne’s Gypsy and Richard Rodgers’ Carousel, with the dancers using the extended front part of the stage and the orchestra providing a musical and physical backdrop. For the next two pieces, Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No 1 and Georges Bizet’s L’Arlesienne – Farandole, conductor Gavin Sutherland and the orchestra took centre stage before a Roaring Twenties medley provided an opportunity for the dancers to show their Charleston skills.
With Katie Derham providing the occasional narrative and different sections for dancers and orchestra, the structure for the evening was set. Our host showed her diverse skills by donning her dancing dress for a duet with Aljaž Škorjanec to the music of Walter Earl Brown’s If I Can Dream.
Whether in duets or in a group dance, the professional dancers, Joanne Clifton, Karen Clifton, Kevin Clifton, Janette Manrara, Giovanni Pernice and Aljaž Škorjanec displayed their considerable skills whether it was the Paso Doble to the music of Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia – Malambo, the quickstep of 42nd Street, the Rumba of Somewhere in Time or the Tango in Libertango.
Popular classic pieces like Kharchaturian’s Masquerade – Mazurka Waltz and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker provided further evidence of the way that music and different dances forms are intrinsically linked.
The end of the evening was a tribute to Irving Berlin and a Top Hat medley followed by the Strictly theme and a glittering confetti finale. Part of the appeal of the Proms is the way that they can often combine different ways of enjoying music and the Strictly Prom illustrated that two popular genres could be bought together for an enjoyable evening. The enthusiastic Prom audience seemed to enjoy both aspects of the evening’s entertainment with plenty of applause for musicians and dancers.
The Proms are considered one of the greatest music festivals. Some of the best musicians and orchestras in the world with an incredible diversity of music provide wonderful entertainment with tickets at very reasonable levels.
Even though the seats for many of the Proms have sold out, it is still possible to attend if you don’t mind standing in the arena or the gallery. With a large number of tickets available for every Prom at the price of £6, it is one of the bargains of the summer.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website here
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