Shall we dance... Strictly stars Aljaž and Janette pay tribute to Fred Astaire

Janette Manrara and Alja Skorjanec in Remembering Fred
Janette Manrara and Alja Skorjanec in Remembering Fred

He’s one of, if not the greatest dancer of all time, and this month two of Strictly Come Dancing’s popular professionals bring their tribute to Fred Astaire back to Blackpool.

Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara’s Remembering Fred show launched at the Opera House last year, and returns in a newly revamped version later this month.

Janette Manrara and Alja Skorjanec recreate the glamour of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Remembering Fred

Janette Manrara and Alja Skorjanec recreate the glamour of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Remembering Fred

The couple, who also married last year as well as staging their debut tour, have spoken of the honour of having Astaire’s last dance partner Barrie Chase attend the Blackpool premiere.

“We were very excited and nervous for the first night,” Aljaž said. “We wanted to do a great job. We knew we’d put together a great show, so to have Barrie there made it even more special.

“It tied the whole thing together, bringing the past into the present.

“She was very supportive and very emotional about the whole show.

“I won’t lie, having someone there who I’ve looked up to throughout my whole dance career did add a little bit of extra pressure, but it was such a bonus.”

Janette added: “I was kind of starstruck to meet someone who had danced with Fred Astaire.

“To meet Barrie in the flesh, and for her to give us her approval of the show right at the beginning of the tour meant so much to us.

“She loved the show and said we did an incredible job. Not only was that really nice, it was a big relief.”

The pair are promising even more treats for their fans planning to see the show again this year.

Aljaž said: “The production last year was above and beyond - but we don’t want to go back on tour with exactly the same show, so we are definitely adding more to the new production.

“There is a huge LED screen, so we can tell stories not only through voices but through moving pictures this time.

“With technology you can do pretty much whatever crosses your mind, so I can’t wait to get into the creative process of using the screen to set up the stories.”

And Janette paid tribute to the inspiration of Fred Astaire for dancers.

“I think for me and many dancers Fred Astaire is just one of the biggest dance legends ever,” she said. “He was such a perfectionist and made everything look so natural and easy and just delivered his routines so brilliantly.

“I don’t think anyone has ever reached that level since, so to be playing tribute to him is quite an honour for Aljaz and I.

“We look back on a lot of his legacy for inspiration; he’s a huge inspiration in everything that we do.”

* Remembering Fred, Opera House, Blackpool, Saturday, March 31. Call 0844 856 1111 or visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk to book.