Strictly stars’ surprise visit has participants dancing for joy

Strictly Come Dancing professionals and Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two presenters pictured with some of our inclusive participants

Our inclusive dance, music, and drama participants were dancing on cloud nine after a surprise visit from some of the stars of Strictly Come Dancing. 

Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two presenters Janette Manrara and Fleur East were joined by professional dancers Karen Hauer, Gorka Marquez, Neil Jones, Nancy Xu, Nadiya Bychkova, Jowita Przystal, and Michelle Tsiakkas.

It was for a special film which aired during last Sunday’s Strictly Come Dancing results show. It was about our work funded by BBC Children in Need.

The class, which was led by Participation Programme Manager Hannah Bullent, had just finished their warm-up when Janette and Fleur arrived. They talked about the class, about Strictly, and quizzed participants on their favourite dancers and judges.

They then revealed they’d brought some friends with them.

Karen, Gorka, Neil, Nancy, Nadiya, Jowita, and Michelle treated everyone to a routine choreographed to the song Proud Mary. They then asked participants to show them their moves, joining in with a big group dancing session.

The surprise got 10s all round from participants.

They said: “I danced with Nancy and Neil which was amazing. I think they definitely liked my moves… The professional’s routine was awesome, it was a 10 from me… I’m the biggest Strictly Come Dancing fan. Today has been a 100 out of 10. I enjoyed talking to the professionals.”

Talking about their experience at The Garage every week they said: “When I go home, I feel like I’ve achieved something. It’s great fun being with all my friends and the teachers are amazing… When I dance, I feel happy… I love the energy, keeping fit, and showing off my dance moves.”

Janette Manrara said: “It’s so wonderful to see that the donations from BBC Children In Need are going to such beautiful causes. It was so brilliant to see The Garage in person and see how happy it makes all the children. It really is very humbling. A huge thank you to everyone who donates.”

Fleur East added: “It was such a joy to meet the children and staff at The Garage in Norwich. All of the children love it there and I could see their faces light up during the dance activity. It’s really special to see what the donations to BBC Children In Need can do for projects like this one. It was truly a heart-warming experience.”

Natalie Songer is the Inclusion and Engagement Manager here and at our sister venue The Workshop in King’s Lynn.

She said: “Today has been amazing. BBC Children in Need has supported The Garage Trust since 2016 which enables the running of our Inclusion and Engagement department. This involves our Foundations and Big Breaks programmes for young people facing challenges, our community outreach work, and our work in schools.

“These projects enable hundreds of young people across Norfolk every year to build their confidence, raise aspirations and boost self-esteem. Without BBC Children in Need’s support, our ability to continue to run the breadth and diversity of work we currently do would be severely at risk so thank you.”

Missed us last Sunday? If you’ve got a BBC iPlayer account, you can catch up here.

You can find out more about our Big Breaks Campaign below. Keep up to date with everything we’re up to by signing up for our fortnightly newsletter and following us on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.

Interested in taking a class? Booking for spring opens 13 November. Our friendly front of house team are happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email

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