Dancers And Tenors Unite For Unique Collaboration

Martina and Michael BurtonCarluccio’s in Kingston holds a special significance to some Kingston performers. After a mutual admiration for several years, this is where ballroom dancers Martina and Michael Burton first met with Tenors Un Limited, the self-proclaimed “rat pack of opera”, to discuss their upcoming collaboration, and it seems they just can’t stay away from this place or from each other.

On Sunday November 24, these two groups will be joining together to bring a unique show of song and dance to Kingston, which they hope will particularly resonate with audiences due to the unrelenting success of Strictly Come Dancing.

Jem Sharples, one of the three local tenors in Tenors Un Limited, said: “There’s a strong demand for live singing with dancing that’s only done in a small way on Strictly Come Dancing. It’s probably my favourite part of that show when they have a guest artist come in and they choreograph something to it, a professional couple performing to a singer.”

Jem went on to speculate about the TV show and whether the women have an easier time than the man: “If you’re a celebrity male, you’ve got to lead so if you haven’t got the confidence you’re going to be pretty awful, whereas if you’re an average girl being led by a strong professional it should be a bit easier.”

The dancers agreed and, having been married for four years and dancing together for over 10, Martina joked: “Just like any married couple working together, it has its moments, up and down. It’s fine most of the time, if he does what I say – he gets his chance when leading on the dance floor!”

Jem described Martina as the “driving force” of this new collaboration, as the dancing couple had seen a Tenors Un Limited concert years ago before listening to their albums, and she said: “We fell in love with the boys and I said I have to dance to them.”

Scott, Paul and Jem of Tenors Un LimitedThe repertoire that Martina loved so much is wide ranging, with original arrangements of completely transformed songs. The tenors set both Sting’s When We Dance and Shirley Bassey’s Thank You For The Years to Italian words, which Jem described as “Il Divo meets Astaire and Rogers”.

The dancing was also choreographed in a somewhat unusual way, with Michael and Martina opening the latter song as a waltz, although it is more foxtrot based and they do switch to that style halfway through.

Marina described the choreography of the whole show as “ballroom inspired but with more open choreography”, including elements of American smooth and Latin American, similar to the fusion dance in Strictly Come Dancing.

The show was carefully planned around Kingston Dance Studio on Canbury Park Road, an old art deco building of which the studio is the only part still used, although it has been recently refurbished. It has never been used for a performance before, only for practise and training.

The studio is owned by Richard and Janet Gleave, world ballroom champions between 1973 and 1980, who keep the spirit of dance history alive with many photographic memories throughout.

Of this location, Michael said: “It’s gone from being taught there to teaching there to performing there.” Jem admired the studio, saying: “It’s an unknown gem in many ways in Kingston.”

The group’s chosen charity to collaborate with is The Victoria Foundation, a local medical charity, who will collect all proceeds from the raffle and refreshments during the show. Martina discovered them as she has “a very good friend who is autistic and The Victoria Foundation actually helped them a lot with transport so she recommended us.”

As Martina and Jem both expressed: “Song and dance just seem to go together, but it’s finding the right environment to showcase it.” They are happy with the space in Kingston Dance Studio, which is a compromise as they were struggling to find a theatre with a big enough stage to accommodate the ballroom dancers’ needs.

Looking forward, Jem said: “The plan is to get it so that we’re all happy with how it’s running and looking and then get some more dates where we commercialise it more.”

The performers have created this Sunday afternoon concert to create a relaxing environment without the full theatrical flair, and the originality they are bringing to Kingston ought to be welcomed.

More information about the show can be found here:

Images courtesy of Michael and Martina Burton and Tenors Un Limited

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