Strictly Come Dancing's Gorka Marquez reveals why he nearly quit BBC One show

Pro Dance News 29th Sept 2023

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Strictly Come Dancing’s Gorka Marquez reveals why he nearly quit BBC One show.

Strictly Come Dancing's Gorka Marquez reveals why he nearly quit BBC One show

Gorka Marquez has revealed he considered leaving Strictly Come Dancing following the birth of his son Thiago. The 33-year-old dancer has been confirmed in the professional line-up for the 2023 series, which begins on Saturday (September 16) with the launch show.

Gorka has been hard at work in training with his fellow pros and now with his new celebrity dance partner. As fans of the BBC One show will know the Spanish dancer had a triumphant series in 2022, making it to the final of the dance contest with Helen Skelton.

But despite their best efforts in the grand final, it wasn’t meant to be with the title going to Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal. Gorka now revealed that leaving the hit dance show did cross his mind.

Speaking in the third and final episode of his and Gemma Atkinson’s reality show, Gemma and Gorka: Life Behind the Lens, Gorka spoke about the difficult decision he had to make as rehearsals for Strictly started just after his second child, son Thiago, was born in July.

“It’s quite heart-breaking, you know, to have to leave again a few days after Gemma gives birth and not be at home,” he said on the W Channel show. The new dad-of-two added: “In my head, it makes me think I want to quit and just be at home for the next three months, but at the same time, I need to do my job and work.”

Thankfully, Gorka did decide to continue with the series and has been making the trip home to Greater Manchester from rehearsals whenever he can to spend time with Gemma, their newborn and daughter Mia, four, as a family-of-four as much as possible.

But he is delighted to be back. Speaking exclusively to the Manchester Evening News back in May, he said: “I am super excited [to be back]. I am very grateful that I get another opportunity to be back on Strictly. It’s the best TV show on telly and for us dancers, to get the opportunity to be part of such an important show, it gives us the opportunity to showcase what we do and to do what we love as a job, I’m very grateful for it.

“I’m very excited. And time flies. I was just saying the other day that I joined Strictly in 2016 and it’s already been eight years and to me, it feels like last year was the first year. It’s amazing and I am very grateful.”

And when asked if it was hard missing out on the Glitterball with Helen last year, Gorka said: “Obviously, when you’re in the final everyone wants to win and yeah, she had a chance to win it but at the end, I’m very proud of what we achieved and lift the trophy or not, I felt like we won because it was our journey, not just the trophy.

“Of course, it would have been the cherry on the top but I won a friend forever and just seeing how much she grew and how much her confidence grew throughout the weeks…. and even the numbers we did. We did some iconic numbers and it was an amazing experience for us. I really enjoyed dancing with Helen and what we did was amazing.”

He added: “Hamza and Jowita won the show and they have an incredible series. Both of them were brilliant and it was down to the public so the public chose and whoever won it was going to be right winner because all the couples all in the final were incredible.”


Bonnie and Clyde announces initial tour casting and further dates.

The production team of the WhatsOnStage Award-winning Bonnie and Clyde The Musical has announced the initial casting and additional tour dates for its first-ever UK & Ireland tour in 2024.

Danny Hatchard from EastEnders and Alex James-Hatton, known for his performances in Heathers and Newsies, will alternate in the role of Clyde Barrow during the tour.

Katie Tonkinson (Bat Out of Hell) will portray Bonnie Parker.

Catherine Tyldesley, known for her appearances in Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing, will make her musical theatre debut as Blanche Barrow. She will share this role with Daisy Wood-Davis, best known for her work in Hollyoaks and Holby City, at specific venues.

Sam Ferriday (Heathers, The Cher Show, and Jersey Boys) will take on the character of Marvin “Buck” Barrow. R&B and soul artist Jaz Ellington, known for his appearances on The Voice UK and Eurovision: You Decide, will play The Preacher from February 22 to July 27.

Nate Landskroner, with credits in Waitress and Heathers, will alternate the role of Clyde Barrow during midweek matinee performances. The casting for the alternate Bonnie Parker will be announced soon.

In addition to the previously announced venues, new locations have been added to the UK and Ireland Tour, including Manchester, Sunderland, Bath, Bradford, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Brighton, High Wycombe, Newcastle, Sheffield, Bromley, and Northampton.

Further casting announcements are expected in the near future.

The tour will commence at Leicester Curve on 22 February 2024, and continue to Dartford, Wolverhampton, Norwich, Manchester, Cardiff, Southampton, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Woking, Nottingham, Southend, Belfast, Milton Keynes, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Cheltenham, and Dublin.


Further dates announced for Disney’s Aladdin UK and Ireland tour.

Further dates announced for Disney’s Aladdin UK and Ireland tour.

Further tour dates have been revealed for the first UK and Ireland tour of Disney’s Aladdin.

The much-loved musical will open in Edinburgh in October 2023, followed by dates in Cardiff, Plymouth, Sunderland and Milton Keynes.

Freshly confirmed today, the piece will also be visiting Manchester’s Palace Theatre (22 May to 7 July), Bristol Hippodrome (10 July to 11 August), Bradford Alhambra (14 August to 1 September), Mayflower Southampton (5 to 29 September), Birmingham Hippodrome (9 October to 3 November), Theatre Royal Glasgow (6 to 30 November) and Liverpool Empire (11 December to 5 January).

Yeukayi Ushe (Disney’s The Lion King, A Strange Loop, Kinky Boots and Motown The Musical) will star as Genie, while the touring production will introduce Gavin Adams – a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music – as Aladdin

Fellow RAM graduate Desmonda Cathabel (Miss Saigon, From Here to Eternity) will play Jasmine when the show opens in Edinburgh, with casting for the role in future venues to be announced in due course.

They will be joined by Adam Strong (Rock of Ages) as Jafar, Jo Servi (Dreamgirls) as Sultan, Angelo Paragoso (The Reporter, Miss Saigon) as Iago, Nay-Nay (Once On This Island) as Babkak, Adam Taylor (Cabaret) as Omar and Nelson Bettencourt (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Les Misérables) as Kassim.

The full cast will also include Hannah Amin, Dammi Aregbeshola, Rico Bakker, Daisy Barnett, Sarah Benbelaid, Erin Gisele Chapman, Tau-En Chien, Zac Frieze, Juan Jackson, James Lim, Harriet Millier, Aaron Elijah Patel, Abbie Platts, Joseph Poulton, Olivier Scheers, Kerry Spark, Ricardo Spriggs, Damien Winchester and Niko Wirachman.

Adapted from Disney’s 1992 animated film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights”, the stage musical was first seen on Broadway in March 2014, while nine subsequent productions have launched around the world. The piece also played over 1200 performances at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End.


Amy Dowden throws support behind Strictly family and promises ‘I’ll be there when I can’.

Amy Dowden throws support behind Strictly family and promises ‘I’ll be there when I can’.

Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden has thrown her support behind her showbiz family, as the new series kicked off in her honour.

The pro dancer, 33, will not be paired up with a celebrity on the 2023 show, after it was revealed earlier this year that she had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

She’s since undergone a single mastectomy and is now having chemotherapy after doctors sadly found more tumours, which has also forced her out of Strictly 2023.


Starlight Express to return to London in new production.

Starlight Express to return to London in new production

Starlight Express is making a return to the London stage – with a twist!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is about a child’s train set that comes to life and competes to become the fastest engine in the world. It opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in 1984, and closed in 2002. It has been running in Bochum, Germany for over 30 years, and has been seen by more than 20 million people.

The musical has music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Richard Stilgoe. The actors famously perform on rollerskates, and the original choreography was by Arlene Phillips.

Andrew Lloyd Webber chatted further about the production on BBC Radio 2: “It’s not coming back to the stage inasmuch as it is coming back all around you. It’s running at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre – it’s completely new and has one big plot twist – people think steam is in the past, well, not any more – steam is the future! You’ll find out more when you go to the show.”

“This time it’ll be on skates, with lots of little tricks. What’s really exciting is that, originally we went into an old-fashioned theatre and we built as much as we could. This time we’re at a space, the Troubadour, where we can do absolutely anything. So it’s going to be around you, the seats will move, it’s going to be a completely new experience.”

Luke Sheppard (The Little Big Things) directs, while Tim Hatley (Back to the Future) will be designing the sets, with Gabriella Slade (Six) on costume design and Arlene Phillips will be part of the creative team, alongside video designer Andrzej Goulding (Life of Pi), lighting designer Howard Hudson (& Juliet) and sound designer Gareth Owen (MJ the Musical) with new orchestrations and musical supervision by Matthew Brind. It has new choreography by Ashley Nottingham (Pacific Overtures).

Lloyd Webber teases: “Lots of projection, a lot of excitement and, of course, we’ve got some music producers and new songs – including one written by my son – which irritatingly was the smash-hit in Bochum.”

Sheppard said: “Nothing comes close to the thrill of Starlight Express and it’s a privilege to be directing this brand-new production, which will bring audiences right up close to all the music, the wonder and the action that makes this show so iconic. We hope it will take London by storm all over again, and be both a celebration of this legendary work, as well as passing the train set to a new generation in a big, bold, and reimagined way. We can’t wait to get our skates on!”

Performances begin on 8 June 2024. Tickets will be released in due course.

As for casting – Lloyd Webber said: “We’re going to start auditioning now… and a “Papa” has become a “Mama”.


”Cabaret, Newsies” and Andrew Lloyd Webber to appear on Royal Variety Performance.

”Cabaret, Newsies” and Andrew Lloyd Webber to appear on Royal Variety Performance.

The line-up has been revealed for the upcoming Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

A plethora of theatre favourites are set to appear at the event, which is to be hosted by comedy favourite Lee Mack.

Set to perform will be the cast of the record-breaking revival of Cabaret, while the evening will also offer a televised glimpse at the eagerly anticipated UK premiere of Disney’s Newsies, which opens later this month in Wembley.

Other performers include Sam Ryder, Ellie Goulding, George Ezra and Cirque Du Soleil, while Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gary Barlow and Gareth Malone will present a new version of their hit tune “Sing”, alongside the London Youth Choir.

The Royal Variety Performance 2022 will take place on 1 December and air on ITV later in the month.


General News & Sighting

  • Dancers Network have put forward a proposal to stop productions from holding talent on standby without pay – a practice known as pencilling – for unreasonable amounts of time…The proposal will ask productions to add an extra line in their budget for holding talent and productions would be able to pencil dancers for a limited grace period. (The Stage)
  • The winner of The Stage Scholarship 2023 at the new Dang Academy is Alya Al Ali.
  • Dame Arlene Phillips is to direct and choreograph a West End Gala celebrating 75 years of the NHS.
  • Sir Matt Bourne’s New Adventures Dance Company announced that Xavier Andriambolanoro Sotiya is their Emerging Artist for 2023-4. Xavier recently graduated from the Central School of Ballet and will make his professional debut in “Edward Scissorhands” at Plymouth on the 20th of November.
  • The Royal Family Dance Crew will be performing at Superweekender in Birmingham from the 1st to the 3rd of December.
  • The nominees have been announced for this years UK Theatre Awards. The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in London on the 8th of October hosted by Zoe Birkett. The 3 candidates for the award of Achievement in Dance are: The Rambert for “Peaky Blinders”, Scottish Ballet for “Coppelia” and Jo Fong & George Orange for ” The Rest Of Our Lives”.
  • Musical Con has announced the complete line-up for 2023. It includes the choreographers Dame Arlene Phillips and Mark Smith and will take place on the 21st and 22nd of October at the Excel Centre in London.
  • Sir Matt Bourne’s “Edward Scissorhands” has announced its full cast and tour dates. Ashley Shaw and Katrina Lyndon will star with Liam Mower and Stephen Murray in the title role. The show will open in Plymouth on the 20th of November.
  • The complete cast has been announced for “Kin”. Joseph Peacock will star in the role of Noah and we spotted dancers Chrissy Brooke, Deena Kapadia, Sophie-Rose Middleton, Carrie Sutton & Athena Collins in the cast. Diante Lodge is the dance captain. The show will run at the Theatro Technis in London from the 28th of October.
  • The complete cast has been confirmed for “White Christmas” at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from the 9th of December. The choreography is by Alistair David and Victoria Hinde.
  • Complete casting has been unveiled for the concert premiere of “Diana The Musical”. It will be staged at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on the 4th of December.
  • “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” has announced a new booking period for its West End run to the 14th of September 2024. The choreography is by Anthony Van Laast.
  • “Wicked” celebrated its 17th Anniversary in the West End by extending its run until December 2024. The show has been seen by nearly 12 million customers in London alone.

          Future Dance Events News

          • “The Devil Wears Prada” has confirmed its West End run and UK premiere. It will be directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell and be cast by Jill Green. The show will open in Plymouth on the 9th of July 2024.
          • “Bonnie and Clyde The Musical” has announced the initial cast and tour dates for 2024. Katie Tonkinson will star as Bonnie Parker.
          • “Starlight Express” is to return to London in the Summer of 2024. It will be choreographed by Ashley Nottingham.
          • The world premiere of the new British musical “Cable Street” is to open at the Southwark Playhouse on the 16th of February 2024. The choreography is by Melody Sinclair.
          • “Some Like It Hot” is coming to the West End in 2025. It will be directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw.
          • “Wicked” has announced the full cast for its tour of the UK and Ireland. We spotted Charlotte Coggin, Aine Curran, Jade Davies, Maddison Firth, Shoko Ito and Will Luckett among the cast members. The tour will open on the 7th of December at Edinburgh.
          • Full casting has been revealed for the first UK and Ireland tour of “Aladdin”. Gavin Adams will star with Desmonda Cathabel as Jasmine. Sarah Benbelaid is the Assistant Dance Captain. The show will open in Edinburgh in October.
          • The full cast has been announced for “The Witches” musical at the National Theatre in London. The choreography is by Stephen Mear and Ebony Molina. It will open on the 7th of November.
          • The 2024 Mighty Hoopla Big Weekender has announced its line up led by: Natalie Imbruglia, Cascada and Gabrielle.
          • “Treason The Musical” confirms its initial touring cast. It will star Nicole Raquel Dennis, Joe McFadden and Emilie Louise Israel and open at the Edinburgh Festival theatre on the 25th of October.
          • “An Officer and a Gentleman” is set to embark on a new tour in February 2024 starting in Birmingham. The choreographer is Joanna Goodwin.
          • Leeds Playhouse will stage “Oliver” in the round from the 27th of November until the 27th of January 2024.
          • “Diana the Musical” will open at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London, on the 4th of December. It will star Kerry Ellis and Maiya Quansah-Breed.
          • “Standing at the Sky’s Edge” will run at the Gillian Lynne theatre from the 8th of February 2024. The choreography is by Lynne Page.
          • “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” will embark on a UK tour from April 2024, opening in Southampton on the 30th of April 2024. The choreography is by Karen Bruce.
          • “Shucked” will open in the West End in 2024. The choreographer is Sarah O’Gleby.
          • The musical “Bonnie & Clyde” will be heading off on a tour of UK and Ireland in 2024, opening in Manchester on the 19th of March. It is directed and choreographed by Nick Winston.
          • “Come From Away” announced a UK and Ireland tour beginning in Leicester on the 1st of March 2024. The production is being cast by Pippa Ailion and Natalie Gallacher. The choreography is by Tara Wilkinson and Kirsty Malpas with Richard Hinds.
          • Manchester’s Hope Mill theatre will stage the world premiere of “To Wong Foo – The Musical”, based on the 1995 film, on the 21st of October. The cast and creative team is to be announced. The casting is by Sarah Leung.
          • “Hadestown” will open at the Lyric Theatre in the West End on the 10th of February 2024. The choreographer is David Neumann.
          • The Chaka Khan musical “I’m Every Woman” announced plans to open in London. It will workshop in the West End in November. The director will be Racky Plews.
          • The new musical “Starter for Ten” will premiere in Bristol next year at the Old Vic theatre from the 29th of February until the 30th of March 2024.
          • “The King And I” will return to the West End in early 2024 starring Helen George and Darren Lee.
          • “Sister Act – The Musical” will return to the Dominion theatre in the West End on the 15th of March 2024. It will star Beverley Knight and Alexandra Burke. The choreography is by Alistair David.
          • The lead cast has been unveiled for “We Will Rock You” opening in the West End. It will star Lee Mead and Brenda Edwards.
          • The upcoming “Wicked” tour has announced its lead casting. Laura Pick will play Elphaba. The show will open in Edinburgh on the 7th of December. The choreography is by Wayne Cilento.
          • “Jesus Christ Superstar” will tour the UK in 2023/4 opening in Manchester this September. The choreography is by Drew McOnie.
          • “The Wizard of Oz” will embark on a UK tour at Liverpool Empire on the 13th of December. The choreography is by Shay Barclay.

            Auditions & Vacancies

            • Taira Foo is looking for 1 male dancer and 1 female contemporary dancer for the creation of a new duet. Auditions will take place in mid October and are by invitation only. The deadline for applications is the 5th of October. For more information, contact Taira on:
            • Laine Theatre Arts is looking to recruit a Head of Jazz to join their faculty. Applicants can apply to: with a C.V and covering letter. The deadline is the 1st of October.
            • Adrian Gas is looking for a contemporary girl dancer of African heritage for a performance on the 15th of November. Contact Adrian on:
            • Pearson Casting will be casting the upcoming production of “Starlight Express”. Email your C.V and reels to:
            • Morvell Dance is looking for 3 female dancers. The audition is at the Place in London on the 7th of October from 2.00 – 7.00pm. For more information, contact:
            • The Place in London is looking for dancers to become Trainee Dance Teachers in their Partners Schools Project. Have a look at the website for details.
            • The Thea Barnes Legacy Fund has bursaries of up to £2,300 to support dancers looking to accelerate their careers in the UK. The deadline for applications is the 15th of October. For more information visit:
            • “Beetlejuice” is looking for dancers in New York. Get more details on:
            • Addict Dance Academy is hiring an Acting teacher. For more information, contact:
            • Rouge in Las Vegas is looking for male dancers. Contact:
            • Birmingham Royal Ballet is looking for a repetiteur. Have a look at the company website for details.

            Dance Classes

            • Lukas McFarlane has an open class at the Base Dance Studios in London on the 2nd of October from 7.00 – 8.30 pm.
            • James Kinney is over from New York to give a Jazz class at the Base Studios on the 2nd of October from 4.00 – 5.30 pm.
            • Lil J is offering a sassy Commercial class at the Pineapple Dance Studios on Tuesdays at 4.15 pm. You can book on the Pineapple app.
            • Amy Ireland is offering a Beginners Tap class at Pineapple Dance Studios on Fridays at 10.15 am and a Commercial Tap class on Mondays at 8.30 pm.
            • Dominique Marinho is teaching a Beginners Heels class on Tuesdays at Pineapple Studios from 3.45 – 4.45 pm from the 1st of August.
            • Jaye Richard Noel is starting a Commercial Hip Hop class from 8.00 – 9.30 pm on Wednesdays at Gymbox in Holborn. You can book via:
            • Natalie Twist has a “Sexy R n B” class every Wednesday from 8.00 – 9.00 pm at the Pineapple Dance Studios.
            • Olivia Rose Shouler is doing a beginners choreography class on Wednesday from 7.00 – 8.25 pm at the Base Studios in London.
            • Daniela Fabbricatore is teaching at the CYD Super Convention on the Sunday: 9.00 am Jazz Fusion Advanced, 11.00 am Tap Intermediate & 2.00pm Jazz.
            • Anna Maria Barber is doing a Choreography class at Flow Dance in Oval every Tuesday from 7.00 – 8.30 pm.
            • Hannah O’Brian is giving a Heels class on Wednesdays from 7.00 – 8.00 pm in Chelmsford. DM Hannah on her Instagram for details.
            • Gemma Hoddy is giving a class at Base Studios on Thursdays from 5.30 – 6.55 pm.
            • Nicolette Whitley is offering a dance class on Thursdays from 6.15 – 7.15 pm at the Inner Space in Nelwyn for £7. Reserve your space on:
            • Anita Mannings has a Contemporary Jazz Class (Int) on Wednesdays from 8.30 – 9.55 pm at the Flow Dance Studios in Oval.
            • Emma Levene is offering a General Ballet Core and Stretch Contemporary class at Forest Gate Community School on Thursdays from 7.00 – 8.00 pm. Email to book:
            • Michael Naylor is teaching a class on Thursdays at the Base Dance Studios from 2.30 – 4.00 pm. Book via the Base app.
            • Alexandre Novelli is offering a Beginners Commercial for Adults class every Tuesday at her Novelli Studios from 6.00 – 7.00 pm.
            • Lucy Jane Adcock is teaching a Show Tap class at Base Dance Studios on Wednesdays at 11.30 am.
            • Poppy Tremlett is offering an Improvers Choreography class at Base Dance Studios on Tuesdays from 8.30 – 10.00 pm.
            • Rachel Bolsworth is teaching an Absolute Beginners Heels class from 7.00 – 8.00 pm on Tuesdays and an Improvers Beginners Heels class on Monday from 8.30 – 9.30 pm at Pineapple Dance Studios.
            • Hannah Cleeve is giving a Heels Technique class on Wednesdays from 1.00 – 2.30 pm each week at the Base Dance Studios.
            • Kamila Zalewska is teaching at the Base Studios in London on Mondays from 4.00 – 5.25 pm for intermediate/advanced level. Book on the Base app.

            Film & TV

            • Taylor Swift’s “Eras” concert wiill be screened live on UK cinemas from the 13th of October.
            • We spotted Jo Scanlan and her Tap Attack dancers on BBC1’s “The One Show”.
            • We spotted Mina Neighbour and Oliver Andrews dancing with Kylie Minogue on BBC1.
            • We spotted Micah Barnes in the latest campaign for the Liz Earle Beauty Company. The contract was with AMCK.
            • We spotted Jen Griffin, Elise Pinel, Joy Duckrell, Kamila Zalewska & Chanelle George performing with Robbie Williams at the F1 in Singapore.
            • We spotted Seren Williams dancing with FKA Twigs for British Vogue.
            • We spotted the following dancers performing with Siouxsie Sioux at the Troxy: Jenny Patrone, Cloe Marie, Helen Rose, Shannon McAvoy, Louise Adamson & Alexandra Cooke. The contract was with AJK.
            • We spotted Hannah Joseph, Stanley Young & Salome Pressac on the runway at Moschino’s 40th Anniversary show at Milan Fashion Week.

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