Dirty Dancing masterclass thrills participants at Dance City

A Dirty Dancing masterclass held at Dance City in Newcastle gave participants the time of their lives running through moves from the famous film

Dirty Dancing dancers James Bennett and Jacquie Biggs take a masterclass at Dance City
Dirty Dancing dancers James Bennett and Jacquie Biggs take a masterclass at Dance City

Nobody puts Baby in the corner – but that’s straight where I headed when asked to dance alongside stars of Dirty Dancing’s hit stage show.

Many women have spent hours daydreaming about having the time of her life doing the cha-cha-cha with Patrick Swayze, so spending the afternoon waltzing around a studio with a professional dancer seemed like a dream come true.

Well, it would have been a dream come true if – unlike me – you didn’t have two left feet.

For the legions of dance students who arrived from across the city – well-prepared in 1980’s lycra and Strictly Come Dancing-style moves – a Dirty Dancing masterclass held in the run-up to a production of Dirty Dancing at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal next year was a challenging opportunity.


Seventeen-year-old Alex Hollingsworth, who dances five days a week at college, said the experience was an inspiration.

“Everyone knows the film and the music really well so it’s great to come here and see the dancers perform – and even have a go at it yourself,” Alex said.

I attempted to have a go at the routines, led by associate choreographer Glenn Wilkinson and the show’s staggeringly athletic dancers Jacqui Biggs and James Bennett. But I mostly just ended up stumbling at the back.

It almost made me wish the unthinkable: maybe I should be wearing lycra leggings as well.

Thankfully I wasn’t the only non-dancer in the room, as sisters Victoria and Sarah Manghen joined me behind a sea of swooshing ponytails and animated hip movements.

The pair had won an online competition to take part in the masterclass and have a fun day out sipping wine and pretending to be Jennifer Grey in a floaty dress.


“I suppose it makes you see the film a bit differently – it makes it all more hands-on and you get to see all of the dancers’ bodies, from the head to the feet,” Victoria, 33, said.

The show’s producer Karl Sydow said most performances of the show end not just in a standing ovation – but a dancing ovation.

“The audience can’t stop themselves from getting up and joining in at the end,” he said.

“The music and the atmosphere is irresistible and people get caught up in the excitement of it all. It’s an American story that’s now more than 30 years old, but it has become so engraved in British culture and you see all the young people come here today and really get stuck in.”

Karl even seemed to forgive me for my woeful dance moves – but by the end of the session I had forgotten anyone else was in the room.

It could almost persuade me to drag myself out of the corner.


David Whetstone
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