'Aghaderg Does Strictly'
09 June 2016
Bank holiday, May
weekend 2016 and the Canal Court Hotel Newry opened the doors of the
Millers conference centre for ‘Aghaderg
Does Strictly’. This was to be the public demonstration of all the glitz
and glamour developed over four months of fun, preparation and sheer hard work.
The organised practices in the Hall under the direction of
chief choreographer, Claire Cunningham, were intense and often passionate. As
the event approached many aspects of ordinary life were put on hold. As many as three training sessions per week were organised while a busy couple
were observed practising their steps around the kitchen floor at 11 O'clock pm!
At 7 o'clock the Millers centre was packed with more than
800 expectant patrons. On time the
comperes for the night, Donal Moran and Maureen Simpson in dazzling Eurovision
style introduced the Aghaderg Does Strictly. To open the show Donal invited the audience to participate in a
warm up for the evening with Nathan Carter's “Wagon Wheel”. The audience
responded as though it was Nathan Carter himself who was leading the show. Donal took a video on his phone of the
audience in uproar to send around the world!
The fourteen dance couples in their red check shirts white
jeans and white hats put their rivalry
aside for the introduction when they made a dramatic entrance through the
length of the hall and the cheering hand clapping audience to give
a spectacular, high octane display of dance and jive to Cotton Eyed Joe and Timber.
The five Judges for the night were then introduced, Bronagh Lennon, Brenda Rankin, Deirdre
McGrath, Charlie Smyth and Brendan McGarrity. They were faced with the
difficult task of selecting a winner from fourteen couples and in front of a
very partisan audience.
The format of the competition included points for the
introduction to the dance, the costumes and props with the majority of the
points awarded for the execution of the dance itself. There were a number of
creative introductions which allowed younger members and family to support the
stars. Glamorous costumes and creative props were the order of the night.
Led on stage by a team of young camogs Barry and Aveen Armstrong
had the nerve wrecking task of being the first couple to perform. Nevertheless they were not daunted and a high
standard was set immediately as their Salsa and Jive allowed them to make excellent use of the stage and were highly
complimented by the judges. A high standard had been set by Barry and Aveen.
Next on stage were Laura Fletcher and Michael
Fitzpatrick in their matching blue
costumes set off with Michael's pork pie hat. They too impressed with
their dancing to Mambo no 5.
Una Hughes and Colum Conway were next on stage as and
produced a high energy display with their modern Jive dancing to Shake a Tail Feather
and Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. They appeared to really enjoy their
performance throughout and the audience
certainly showed their appreciation.
Damien Simpson and Olivia Goodman had a fabulous entrance to
Gloria and provided wonderful entertainment
in their drama, comedy and dancing the Charleston to Bang Bang and Do Your
Thing. Olivia's silver costume certainly reflected the 1920s and the era of jazz music, speakeasies
Gerard and Elaine Lennon did their dance with a nice sense of comedy, dancing to Let's Hear it for the Boys and Footloose.
Elaine has realised her ambition to learn and perform the jive in the northern
home of jiving. They will be out every weekend now!
Joanne Watson and Paddy Simpson were on next. Their comic
entrance was loved by the audience. Joanne in her Imelda May mode was
outstanding in her Olivia Newton John role opposite Paddy's, John
Travolta. They performed their Waltz and Modern dance movements
to Grease Lightening and We Go Together.
What did they do with that flashy red car??
Fr Colum and Anne Haggart received the loudest ovation of
the evening when they arrived on stage to perform their Movie Jive in style to
Pulp Fiction's Teenage Wedding and Pump it.
The first half of the entertainment was completed by Special
Guests “Down Cheeky Ladies”. All dressed in the red and black of their county they performed a high octane version of the Can
Can. A fantastic group of ladies who
boast 27 children, 34 grandchildren and
one great grandchild between them. They were not going to be left behind when
the young dancers of the parish were preparing for their fifteen minutes of
fame. Kathleen McGrath May McAvoy Kay Lennon Jackie Cooney Mary Simpson Liz
Fitzpatrick Kate McShane and Helen Lennon even surpassed Fr Colum's ovation at
the end of their performance. Well done ladies. You left another fantastic
memory from a night of memories.
The second half opened with another of our married couples
Chris and Terri Sands. Their Dentist drill entrance to Wake me up Avicii was
dramatic while their Rumba and Salsa to Merci and I want to Dance with Somebody was really professional, entertaining and
Next on stage were Caroline and David Furnace. They were
dressed to impress in matching white outfits and produced another high octane
disco performance dancing to Letrak and Disco Inferno by Tina Turner. Caroline
showed no ill effects from completing the Paris marathon recently and is hoping
to convince Dave to join her in Paris 2017.
The third member of the Fitzpatrick family was next on stage
when Bronagh and partner Aaron McAvoy
displayed their creative pop dancing talents to Sorry by Justin Beiber
and Play that Sax. They produced a high energy and confident display befitting
a couple who had the experience of Jigs and Reels behind them but with
Mairead McGrath and Linus Murray returned to a country dance
routine complete with the white stetsons and made great use of the stage when
performing to Shut up and Dance and Honey I'm good. Mairead smiled confidently throughout the
It was just after 10 0'clock when Martin Donnelly and Paula
Cairns made their dramatic entrance and unbelievably we were down to the last
three contestants. Paul and Martin did not disappoint as they displayed an
abundance of energy performing the Charleston to Rock Around the Clock and This Old House. Paula's fear that Martin
might do an impersonation of an Armagh full back and drop her during one of the
tricky manoeuvres proved groundless.
The ovation for the penultimate couple certainly rivalled
that for Fr Colum as Ollie Fitzpatrick arrived with his partner Aine Strain on
a tractor and trailer borrowed from compere, Maureen Simpson's son, Cain and to
the music of "Hit the Diff" The audience responded to the entrance
and Maureen assured everyone that this was typical of this couple. They were
the fun couple throughout the four months preparation. Their dance, a
combination of Hip Hop and Novelty kept the smiles on everyone's faces. Their
video on facebook was equally entertaining.
And now the final contestants as the Lisnavaragh Road couple
of Andrew and Sharon Carr entered the stage,
both stunning in their matching pink blazers, panama hats and
fashionable shades. They were confident and assured and gave a superb
performance of Hip hop and Modern Dance to Uptown Funk and Runaway Baby. Their
gestures, facial expressions and sheer enjoyment of the dances electrified the
Now it was over to
the judges - would it be one of the Fitzpatrick couples - one of the Charleston
couples - Fr Colum and Ann or ???????? Everyone had their favourites - some
family - some friends - some wildly impressed by the performance of the
artistes but all 800 patrons had been entertained by the efforts and expertise
of the dancers. Some dancers sang cheerfully the whole way through, others
furiously counted out the steps but all managed to keep a smile on their faces.
They survived those carefully orchestrated lifts and kept in time. Many acted
out a drama on stage - dancing with their feet, eyes, arms and fingers. A night
of inspired dancing and marvellous entertainment.
Now it was decision making time. The judges had scrutinised,
they had checked their notes they had ticked their boxes and completed fourteen
little sums. They had to reveal the winners. Comperes asked for the drum beat
roll seeking audience participation as to who the winners might be.
Judges choice winner
was couple number 14 - Andrew and Sharon Carr.
winner was couple number 10 - Mairead McGrath and Linus Murray
A special Teachers
choice award was awarded to couple number 4 - Olivia Goodman and Damien Simpson.
The prizes were presented by Adrian Strain, representing the
main sponsor - Eagle Overseas.
Cathy Devine Co-ordinator of Strictly conveyed the thanks of the Aghaderg Parish,
Club and community to the participants, sponsors committee, audience and all
those who gave freely of their time in preparation and on the night. Three winning
couples were fittingly recognised on stage but on the night we were all winners - the
committee, the dancers, the sponsors, those working in the background and the
Aghaderg Strictly - Thanks for the entertainment - thanks
for the memories.