After a spectacular show last year celebrating the legacy of Fred Astaire, the beloved ballroom couple Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara return to the National Concert Hall of Wales for one night only.
The charismatic pair have captured the hearts of the nation on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, and this time they are revelling in all the glitz and glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood through to the modern mega musical. Enjoy tributes to Audrey Hepburn, Saturday Night Fever, Gene Kelly, The Greatest Showman, Marilyn Monroe, La La Land, James Bond, Cabaret and many more!
Neil Collins chats with the dazzling dancing duo Aljaž and Janette…
How did the Remembering the Movies tour come about?
JANETTE: It was originally the idea of Steven Howard from the TCB Group, whose recent productions have included our Remembering Fred show last year as well as the Rip It Up tour. Steven got together with the show director, Gareth Walker and they dreamed up Remembering the Movies, which offers a much larger canvas on which to draw.
We met Steven over dinner and as soon as he mentioned Remembering Fred, we knew we had a little gem on our hands. And when we found out the tour would include a show at the London Palladium, I think we both shed a tear! It was a dream come true – and in front of our families who had flown to London from Slovenia and Miami.
Which movies can we expect to see represented onstage?
JANETTE: We had to do The Greatest Showman and La La Land because they’re modern classics. Then there’s Singin’ in the Rain, Chicago and Cabaret. One of the most exciting segments is a whole James Bond section. Aljaž is going to be my James – the most handsome Bond ever! And we couldn’t not include romantic films like Casablanca and Titanic.
Is performing live a completely different experience to appearing in front of a Strictly studio audience?
JANETTE: Yes, you have the idea in the back of your mind of all those millions of people in front of their TVs at home. But nothing compares to the buzz from a live audience in a theatre.
ALJAŽ: And no two performances are the same. Without quite realising it, you feed off the people out there in the auditorium and each audience is different. Each one is unique, each show is one moment in time.
Do you have Strictly Come Dancing to thank for all your live success?
JANETTE: We both joined Strictly in 2013, and it changed our lives completely – and 150% for the better! Up until then our careers were in a sort of limbo, so to get to do the best TV show in the UK with my boyfriend and then fiancé and now husband… well, it doesn’t get much better!
That does mean you’re with each 24/7 though…Does Aljaž ever get on your nerves?
JANETTE: (Laughs) Absolutely not! He makes me smile all the time, and we were friends first which I think is important.
ALJAŽ: It took me a year to persuade her to go out on a date!
Do ever feel any jealousy when you see you other half wrapped around someone else on the dancefloor?
ALJAŽ: No, because in the end any passion is manufactured. Dancing is acting. It’s telling a story with conviction. But it’s not real.
JANETTE: Funnily enough, Gemma Atkinson and I were talking about this when she was Aljaž’s partner in 2017. She asked me if it was all right to look into his eyes. I told her she must because otherwise how could she convincingly put across a Paso Doble, for instance?
So, the ‘Strictly Curse’ is a nonsense?
JANETTE: I always say that for me and Aljaž, Strictly is a blessing. And so many other strong relationships have come out of Strictly. Look at Gorka Marquez and Gemma Atkinson. Look at Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev. Why focus on the negatives?
ALJAŽ: If your relationship at home is secure, you have nothing to worry about.
Does it annoy you that all the professionalism and hard work that go into perfecting a dance routine can be overshadowed by superficial speculation on a particular couple’s relationship away from the dancefloor?
JANETTE: We both come from a close-knit family. Aljaž’s is small and mine is a huge Cuban army. One day we would like a family of our own. We talk about it all the time, and the right time will come along soon enough.
But how will you feel about having to give up your dancing shoes for a few months?
JANETTE: Obviously, I’ll have to take some time off. But I’m very fit so I hope I’d be able to bounce back pretty quickly. I can never imagine retiring completely from the world of dance. I’m too passionate about it and Strictly is such an incredible platform, so we’d be mad not to embrace every opportunity that comes our way. We’re already talking about professional plans for 2020.
I’ve also started a new project on my YouTube channel where I interview celebrities and I’m loving it. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d like to become the Ellen DeGeneres of the UK in a few years from now! That’s my dream.
ALJAŽ: She would be amazing because she has an instant rapport with people and she’s a complete natural in front of the cameras as anyone who’s seen her on Zoe Ball’s spin-off It Takes Two show will know.
We were lucky enough to work with Sir Bruce Forsyth. In fact, Abbey Clancy and I were the last couple to be presented with the Glitter Ball by Bruce. What an honour! And how fortunate we were to be in the presence of a man who had worked in the business for 75 years. We both learned so much just by watching him.
I bet you can’t wait to get out there now to perform Remembering the Movies?
JANETTE: The movies week on Strictly is always one of my favourites.
ALJAŽ: And the lovely thing is that if it’s the success we’re sure it’s going to be, we can do it again the following year and feature a whole range of different films. This one could run and run!
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