A Richmond dance instructor is running a Strictly Come Dancing themed dance class to co-ordinate with the show’s new series.
Strictly mega-fan Kathy Edge, who did not give her age but described herself as ‘old enough to be an inspiration’, is channelling her passion for the celebrity dance contest into her own classes.
The Strictly theme will be present throughout the five-week ‘Strictly Fit’ course, with Kathy choosing her favourite songs from the show and choreographing them for classes. The class also takes part in a Strictly sweepstake.
Kathy wanted to run a ballroom and Latin class with a fitness twist, as she felt that in the past some classes have been elitist. She was concerned that this stopped people of certain ages or sizes feeling comfortable attending.
Her aim is for the classes to be a friendly, non-judgemental environment for people who just want to be able to dance.
She said: “It enables women to come out and get so much out of it: the love of dance, the music, friends, good mental health, the physical health, all the benefits that come with it. People forget about the extras and think it’s just a fitness class.”
Kathy’s passion for Strictly is deep-rooted; she spent 20 years as a professional singer, performing in venues with some of the original Strictly bands including Ray McVay’s orchestra. Mr McVay’s band featured on Come Dancing before the show was relaunched in 2004 as Strictly Come Dancing.
She has learnt from the best and she was trained in ballroom style with Strictly legends including Anton Du Beke, Erin Boag, Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe.
Speaking about her love of the show, Kathy explained the appeal in the mixed bag of dancers that feature.
She said “I like the bad ones as well as the good ones.
“If it was only good dancers, then it wouldn’t be as fun. It wouldn’t have that character.”
She recalled some memorable contestants like Ann Widdecome, Russell Grant and, of course, Ed Balls’ unforgettable salsa to Gangnam Style.
She also gave credit to Theresa May’s dance moves which she busted out on a visit to a school in South Africa last month. “She’s not the best dancer, but she had a go!” Kathy said.
Kathy’s many years as a Strictly fan haven’t been without some frustration. She recalled last year’s elimination of former JLS member Aston Merrygold. He was one of her all-time favourite contestants who she described as ‘standout-ish’ yet she felt he was eliminated due to strategic voting.
She said: “I found myself shaking my little first, shouting at the TV…and suddenly I thought ‘Oh my God, I’m like a football fan!'”
Much has changed over the more recent years of Strictly including the departure of former head judge Len Goodman in 2016. She said: “I miss him, and I didn’t want him to go but they’re still doing a good job.”
She also spoke fondly of the show’s late national treasure, Sir Bruce Forsyth. The British actor, singer, comedian and dancer presented the show from 2004-2014. Edge described him as ‘one of the last all-round entertainers’. The dance teacher felt that she came from the same style of schooling as Forsyth, where you could ‘sing, dance and tell a joke’.
She added that people often forget that the beloved entertainer’s famous catchphrase “Keep Dancin’!” is actually quite important.
Though the course brings obvious benefits to students, Kathy also spoke passionately about dance as an art form and what it brings her.
She said: “It doesn’t just do it for the students, it does it for me too. I need dance in my life. Without it I would suffer.”
With the Strictly Fit course being one of her more niche fitness classes, she’s confident it will give everyone a little taste of Strictly.
She said: “You’ve got to remember these Strictly dancers have been doing this since childhood and years of training. You don’t expect to go to one class on a Friday night in Richmond and be that good.
“But what it does give is a feel of what it’s like to be a celebrity on the show and feel like a star. Everybody wants to feel like a star at some stage!”
The classes can be attended as a five-week course or paid per class and more information can be found at kathyedge.zumba.com.
Strictly Come Dancing returns on 22 September on BBC One.