‘Strictly’ has become a phenomenon since the first series burst onto our screens in 2004 when newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and her dance partner Brendan Cole waltzed off with the prize.
Ballroom dancing was seen as the reserve of an older generation and not particularly ‘cool’ but Strictly has changed all of that and many of us are contemplating dusting off our dancing shoes to learn how to samba or foxtrot around the floor. It’s not just those of us of a certain vintage who fancy a bit of cha-cha-cha either. Strictly has made ballroom popular again and having younger, relevant contestants such as Joe Sugg, HRVY and Stacey Dooley on previous shows have helped appeal to a new generation. That said, dance is for everyone of all ages and there’s no denying the mental and physical benefits it can bring. This week, ACP caught up with well-respected, expert ballroom dance teacher Kim Devine who runs Kim Devine School of Dance school in Arbroath along with husband John. Kim told us that Angus continues to produce some fine dancers: “Angus has always been a wonderful place to learn to dance with a variety of dance genres. Ballroom and Latin has always had its place and is once again becoming ever more popular and producing some terrific young dancers.”
Kim agreed that in ‘Strictly’ season, there is more demand for lessons. She said: “During ‘Strictly’ people of all ages are inspired to get out there and dance. I see an upturn in enquires during the season and once customers observe first-hand the benefits that dancing provides, there’s no turning back.”
Given that Kim has chosen to teach in Arbroath, I put her on the spot and asked if Angus is the place to be for finding the next Anton du Beke or Oti Mabuse. Kim confirmed there was indeed a pool of talent in the area: “Yes Arbroath and the surrounding towns have some amazing ballroom talent. Scotland is a hot bed of great dancers and some of my pupils have won major Scottish Championships.”
Kim has enjoyed a successful career and has trained hundreds of dancers. She’s hopeful there will be a new generation of teachers to follow in her footsteps: “Teachers are the heart and soul of our wonderful sport; new schools are emerging such as McColl Dance in Inverness. David and Andrea McColl have spent three years training with me and are now ready.”
Covid affected not just Kim’s school but dance classes everywhere. Looking to the future, it is hoped that classes will return to normal without the need for restrictions. “The pandemic seriously affected dance classes but we haven’t been beaten and we’re back stronger than ever and raring to go.”