Belfast Telegraph

Dirty Dancing comes to Belfast: Our reporter is having the time of her life

As the cast of the Dirty Dancing stage show hits town, our reporter Claire Williamson tries out some slinky moves with the leading man... and no one puts her in a corner

No one puts baby in the corner. And there was absolutely no one sitting in the corner when I joined the dance team from West End show Dirty Dancing as they took over Belfast Metropolitan College for a masterclass.

Myself and fans of the classic chick-flick were there to live out the fantasy and re-enact scenes made famous by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

Show producer, Karl Sydow, introduced a short film in the main auditorium to get everyone in the mood for dancing.

As the iconic routines appeared on screen, a nervous excitement filled the room before we made our way in to the dance studio.

There, dancers Jacquie Biggs and James Bennett gave us a taste of how it should be done, as they effortlessly soared through a rendition of the Do You Love Me routine. Their perfectly synchronised bodies were a shining example of a gruelling schedule paying off as I learned how the show's dancers rehearse up to six hours a day and perform eight shows a week.

My role as a spectator didn't last long – choreographer Glenn Wilkinson was keen for everyone to take a turn.

He taught us the Cha Cha and while initially I was a little timid, it wasn't long before Glenn had us in the groove and working our bodies the Dirty Dancing way.

As the class came to an end, my work was not done. There was no way I could miss out on the opportunity to recreate some of the most memorable moments of the infamous movie with a real-life Johnny.

So, somehow, in an instant I became the leading lady – Baby.

The first moment we recreated was when Johnny and Baby crawl across the dance studio looking lovingly in to each other's eyes miming the words of Love Is Strange.

And the fun was only just getting started. Next up was the key moment when Penny and Johnny put Baby in the middle as they do the three-in-a-line dance to Hungry Eyes. After that, it was time to get a little closer as we did the 'arm tickle'. This charming moment in the show marks the start of the crucial (I've Had) The Time Of My Life routine.

Last, but certainly not least, Dirty Dancing is known for its intensely close contact dances, so we recreated one of the moves seen throughout the show called The Dip.

Anything is possible when you have a good partner, and I was told all I had to do was "lean back and I'll hold you". You can't argue with that.

I did try my luck to see if it was possible to try The Lift. It's the trademark moment of the entire show, the climactic move that everyone is waiting for.

But, as you might expect, that sort of move takes a lot of practice and after my one class, it seemed I wasn't quite there yet. Maybe next time.

Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story Onstage arrives at the Grand Opera House next August and judging by last night's talent, theatre goers are sure to have the "time of their lives".

Belfast Telegraph

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