Anton can't wait to dance in city

THE Strictly judges have sent him packing, he is desperately missing his professional dance partner and he has had to spend a whole day talking to journalists.

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Anton brings his show to Glasgow early next year
Anton brings his show to Glasgow early next year

You might expect Anton du Beke to be a bit miserable, but on the contrary, he is positively, typically, beaming with enthusiasm.

"I LOVE this bit," he grins.

"I've had a thoroughly LOVELY afternoon. Honestly. It's SO much fun talking about my new tour."

He jokes: "And it's all about me, of course. Marvellous...."

Anton is coming back to Glasgow in February with his new touring show, Ballroom to Broadway, a glorious celebration of the world of musicals.

"I can't WAIT," he proclaims.

"I love touring and it's always lovely to come to Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall.

"The audiences are wonderful and it's nice to be able to get out and about around the country for a change."

He frowns: "I mean, it's a lot to ask people in Glasgow and Dundee to pop down to London's West End all the time.

"Oh, and then you get the shows that tour, but there's no-one in it! That's a real gripe of mine, actually."

Anton is touring with a stellar cast - "WHAT a cast," he gasps. "I am SO excited," - but his dance partner and fellow Strictly professional Erin Boag is not coming this year as she is pregnant with her first child.

"I do miss Erin," says Anton, sadly.

"I mean Iveta (Lukosiute, Anton's partner on Strictly this series) is gorgeous, but it's not the same.

"And poor Erin is having the WORST pregnancy by the sounds of it. Seems to have spent most of it with her head down the toilet."

Anton and his celebrity partner, actress Fiona Fullerton, left the show two weeks ago, in one of his most successful runs in the BBC One show for many years.

Previous, less successful but much funnier, partners, included MP Ann Widdecombe and Nancy Dell'Olio.

"I miss my training sessions with Fiona, she was absolutely lovely," he says.

"It was a wonderful, wonderful journey. But I'm still massively involved with the show, of course, and there's the Christmas special, and all sorts. It's all go."

Away from the dance floor, Anton's partner is Hannah Summers, vice-president of marketing in the UK for the international mobile messaging company Acision.

Finding the time to plan Ballroom to Broadway has been a challenge but Anton is enthusiastic (of course) about the preparation which goes into taking such a big show on the road.

"Putting it all together is fun. I love choosing the songs and working out what to do and with musicals - well, the world's your oyster, isn't it? There's so much to choose from," he says.

"And I love all that sort of stuff. You have to make sure you get the right balance, of course. There's no point in picking lots of obscure numbers from musicals you love if no-one's ever heard of them."

Numbers include Anything Goes, Rhythm of Life and Hushabye Mountain and Anton will dance with Faye Huddleston.

"I gave Faye her first job, in a show I was choreographing, many moons ago," he explains.

"I'm delighted she's joining me on the tour. And we have Summer Strallen, for goodness sake - she is such a star."

The West End actress, who has starred in Top Hat, Love Never Dies and The Sound of Music will be joined by Strictly singer Lance Ellington, world-class ensemble dancers and the Raymond Gubbay Big Band Orchestra, conducted

by Richard Balcombe.

Anton grew up in Kent with his Spanish mother, Hungarian father, and his brother and sister.

He started dancing at 14, studying contemporary, jazz, ballet and modern theatre dance, as well as being a

junior boxer and county footballer.

"When I was dancing, at that age, it wasn't 'cool'," he grins.

"It wasn't something you shouted about, frankly, when you were going round the country competing in ballroom competitions. I just did it, and got on with it, and I loved it.

"But I was chatting about this the other today to Hannah and I think that nowadays, Strictly has opened up the whole thing.

"Dance was fragmented - ballet was over here, ballroom was over there, and they were separate. But once Strictly started, it all changed. I remember presenting an award at the Royal Opera House, and the principal dancer of the Royal Ballet came up and told me he was a big fan."

Anton laughs: "He was a fan of me? It was the first time a ballroom dancer had been asked to present an award, and I think it was a sign that things were changing. Strictly has made dance accessible to all. I mean, a dance group won Britain's Got Talent a few years ago and that wouldn't have happened before. Look at Riverdance too, what it's done for Irish dancing.

"Years ago, even the Irish didn't watch Irish dancing. And then Michael Flately and a 10 -minute spot on the Eurovision Song Contest changed everything.

"Dance has exploded, people's eyes have been opened to what's out there, and that's a tremendous thing."

n Anton Du Beke - Ballroom To Broadway is at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sunday, February 16 at 3pm. For more details, visit www.raymond or call 0844 847 2319.

Arts and Entertainment

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