Craig Revel Horwood – from ballroom to ballet

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Famous for being the tough judge on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, and currently appearing in the West End as the evil Miss Hannigan in Annie, Craig Revel Horwood has also found time to choreograph the latest BalletBoyz production, 14 Days, appearing at Richmond Theatre

Craig Revel Horwood is a man of many talents, but he’s maybe not so well known for his collaboration with the fit young men that make up the male dance group, BalletBoyz.

‘I had a fantastic experience with BalletBoyz a few years ago, creating a tango for two men as part of a gala show which re-opened the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre in London.  So, I was thrilled when they asked me to create a new work. I really admire them as a company. They’ve really pushed the boundaries of ballet and made it sexy and cool.

Story-wise I based it on my hometown of Ballarat [in Australia]where there was a revolt of miners in the mid-19th century, known as the Eureka Stockade. So, the concept is a clog dance battle between the miners and the soldiers.’

What is it that distinguishes BalletBoyz as a dance company? ‘Each Ballet Boy is an individual, they all have characters. That makes it different, because you’re not getting a corps de ballet as such, you’re getting to know each individual dancer. But they’re very generous as a company, they very much work as a team. And, of course, they’re all boys, but that doesn’t restrict the opportunity to convey romance or sexiness.’

A judge since the first Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, Craig still sees the long hours of recording as fun rather than hard work and the new head judge is adding to the show. ‘Shirley Ballas is fantastic and really knows her stuff. It’s a complete change of dynamic, but I like that. And it’s nice to have another lady on the panel. I miss Len, but it’s nice to start another chapter.’

And, of course, Bruce Forsyth is also much missed: ‘Brucie was a legendary performer, but he was also a wonderful human being, who loved other people and entertaining. He reacted so well to live audiences, which is what made him so good at his job. People also forget that he was a brilliant tap dancer, and he left such a strong legacy to the dance world. Strictly is a celebration of him.’

Craig’s doesn’t mind his image as a tough judge – on Strictly or anywhere else: ‘I’m hard on people because I want to push them. I tell my dancers what’s wrong so that we can make it right. After all, we want to make the piece as good as it can be. It’s sometimes misconstrued on Strictly that my criticism is not constructive, but that’s completely wrong. I want to help people to improve. But that said, I do wear different hats, and when I’m at home I take them off and I’m myself. I’d probably go a bit made otherwise!’
Theo Bosanquet

BalletBoyz: Richmond Theatre, 1 & 2 Dec (atgtickets.com)
Annie: Craig’s run as Miss Hannigan ends 26 Nov (anniewestend.com)

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