By Martin Graham
HAVING A BALL: A pensioners’ dance group got an unexpected splash of glamour when Strictly Come Dancing’s Kristina Rihanoff dropped in to offer some dancing tips – and she couldn’t resist cavorting with the men. Kristina was in Edinburgh as part of the Strictly Professionals tour, and had a ball with the dancers from the Ageing Well Fancy Footwork group.
Picture by Mike Byrne
Despite being known best for getting dragged across a dancefloor by John Sergeant, she says the ex-newsreader is an inspiration for older dancers.
She said: “We’ve been on tour for ten weeks and Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful destinations we have visited.
“As a dancer and a dance teacher I am so happy to see people take dancing as a form of exercise.
“It’s fun and the social aspect is great, you meet new people and it’s much more fun than going to the gym.
“The music puts you in a great mood and also gives you the feel good factor, so you exercise without really thinking about it.
“And it’s for anybody, any size, any shape, any age.
“John Sergeant proved that all those things were true.
Dancing became more acceptable to many generations through Strictly Come Dancing.
“People saw how much weight you could lose; John Sergeant lost 30 pounds during ten weeks of training.
“People see how healthier and happier you become through dancing.”
Despite criticism from the judges, Sergeant proved a hit with the viewers and the couple made it through to the latter stages of the competition before he resigned.
Harry Wilson, 70, told how he has been attending dance classes with his wife Jennifer for many years, but couldn’t resist swapping his dance partner for the afternoon.
The couple only recently joined the group based at Newhaven Church, and Harry found himself striking poses with world class dancer Kristina on the pier at Newhaven.
Wife Jennifer looked on with pride and explained that dancing for them is a life-long passion.
She said: “We have been dancing for many years.
“Our favourite dances are the salsa and the cha-cha. We never miss Strictly Come Dancing, it’s absolutely wonderful to watch.”
As well as dance classes, the Get Up and Go programme runs swimming classes, gardening, a walking group, indoor curling, cycling events and singing.
Jim Cumming, 66, also got a chance to dance with Kristina.
He said: “It’s a bit surreal to have her here.
“I go to the class regularly, and I enjoy the exercise and the socialising.
“I used to dance at the Victor Sylvester dance studio on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow in my early twenties.
“My favourite dance is the jive.”