Brendan Cole celebrated the final night of his UK tour in Edinburgh on Monday. After 48 nights of thrilling audiences all over the country with a combination of slick Strictly Come Dancing moves and set pieces straight out of the movies, he and his motley crew of big band musicians, professional ballroom dancers and accomplished singers, bid farewell for the year in style.
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And judging by the audience’s reaction, his return to the dance floor won’t come soon enough.
Partnering with Strictly colleague Aliona Vilani, who was a last-minute replacement for injured Fauve Hautot at the beginning of the tour, the pair waltzed, tangoed and quickstepped their way through a two-hour showcase of ballroom favourites to the delight of fans.
Dancing alongside brother Scott, Strictly performer Patrick Helm, allroom and Latin professional Crystal Main and sassy Australian Melanie Hooper, Cole is very much at home with his experienced cast, the group sailing through their routines in good humoured harmony.
Frequently pausing to talk to the audience, Cole was at times emotional about the end of the tour and rather sentimental about the relationship he’s built with the crew as they’ve travelled; and they of him, musical director Barry Robinson conveying the ensemble’s thanks to Cole for such a good run during a question and answer session with Cole about his life and some rather indiscreet Strictly Come Dancing gossip.
Based loosely around the theme songs of James Bond movies, spectacularly performed by Julie Maguire and Iain Mackenzie, the show dipped in and out of Strictly set pieces, including a recreation of Cole’s Argentine Tango with Sophie Ellis Bextor, and filmic references, including a dazzling Dirty Dancing tribute that shows what can happen when your first love is dancing rather than acting.
The choice of Vilani as dance partner is wise, her natural fluidity and investment in performance breathtaking to watch.
Cole’s natural competitiveness was ever near the surface, a “cape off” at the beginning of the second act roused the audience to enthusiastic applause, even if one suspects it’s normally the sort of thing only superheroes and bull fighters do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, and a boys vs girls dance off elicited great cheers, and a new appreciation for The Locomotion.