Eurovision has a love affair with the hit dance show “Strictly Come Dancing” or “Dancing With The Stars”. With a Jury and a Public vote deciding how good or not so good your 3 minute performance was – you have the makings for the best tv around Europe. The BBC show “Strictly Come Dancing” has been sold world-wide and many Eurovision singers have taken to the show’s dance floors – with varying degrees of success. With the new series having just started in the UK – it is the perfect time to take a trip around the continent and see who is looking for just 10 points and not the magical 12. Swapping vocals for footwork can be a challenging move for some!
“Champagne for Lulu” – Yes the “Boom Bang A Bang” Eurovision winner from 1969 competed in the UK edition of the show back in 2011. She may have been eliminated in week 6 but not before this Halloween Paso Doble that saw her flying through the air. This earned her one of her best scores in the contest. Seeing is believing and flying doesn’t get more “Absolutely Fabulous”.
One of the original judges on the show was Arlene Phillips – legendary dancer and choreographer. She may not like us reminding you of this but she was the woman who staged Engelbert Humperdinck’s 2012 Eurovision performance in Baku – “Love Will Set You Free” along with the votes that went running to the Sweden and not the UK.
Rosa won the Spanish Eurovision Selection in 2002 with “Europe’s Living a Celebration” – giving Spain one of their best results in recent years. However she went on to be crowned Champion of the Spanish version of the dancing show “¡Mira Quién Baila!” in 2006 – Ole. We had to take a second glance. Was that really Rosa? Va-va-voom!
Portugal may still be waiting for the first win at Eurovision but they have had a Eurovision singer win “Dança Comigo” in 2007. Luciana Abreu represented Portugal as part of the band “2B” in 2005 and 2007 was 2B her year as she swept the competition to one side and claimed a title for a Portuguese Eurovision singer.
Sweden maybe one of Eurovision’s darlings, but when it comes to Eurovision stars doing well in “Let’s Dance” – it has not been such a golden contest. Their Melodifestivalen contestants score much better in “Let’s Dance” than in Melodifestivalen itself. The very first winner of “Let’s Dance” in 2006 was the eternal Bridesmaid or Best Man at Melodifestivalen – Måns Zelmerlöw.
We want to look though at 2012. It saw Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou take part in the show. Known for winning Eurovision and being part of the highly successful band “Antique” in Sweden, it was certainly going to be yet another Top 3 for Helena – wasn’t it? The Swedish people didn’t think she was their “Number One” and voted her off the show in week 2. Personally I thought it was worth a “SEVEN” at least.
In 2011 Sweden’s “Let’s Dance” invited a little known fiddler from Norway to compete in the show. You may have heard of him – Alexander Rybak? Yes Eurovision winner from 2009 – Alexander Rybak – took part in the show and came 4th in the competition proving that he is just as good with his feet as well as his hands! A man with co-ordination is hard to find these days!
Just because you danced at Eurovision doesn’t mean that you will be asked to dance on “Strictly Come Dancing” – they actually may ask you to present the show. This was the case of perky Tina Karol who represented the Ukraine at Eurovision in Athens. The show is called “Танці з зірками/Dancing With the Starts” and Karol presented the show from 2006 to 2008. The show began each week with Karol singing and dancing with her co-host. The Ukraine make their presenters work for their money.
Poland has “Taniec z Gwiazdami” and they are not immune to having a Eurovision star or two on the show. Our favorite was the wonderful Justyna Steczkowska, who represented Poland at Eurovision in 1995 in Dublin with “Sama”. Well she was certainly not “Alone/Sama” in thinking that she was light on her feet. She was runner-up in the contest in 2007. The show is so popular in Poland that they run 2 seasons of the show each year. Justyna sings and dances – definitely worth full marks in our books!
Finland had to wait a long time for their first Eurovision win in 2006, and they are still waiting for their first “Tanssii tähtien kanssa” Eurovision Champion. Our favorite Finnish Eurovision entry was from the eternally funky Laura Voutilainen in 2002 with the highly underrated “Addicted to You”. Finishing 20th was a shocker at Eurovision, but she made up for it in 2010 in “Dancing With The Stars” where she was the runner-up. They seem to be somewhat more revealing in the dress department on the Finnish version of the show – as you will see. I hope the studio was heated.
Germany is our penultimate country. They are Eurovision and “Let’s Dance” crazy. In the first season they had Sandy Molling from the group “No Angels” who represented Germany at Eurovision in 2008 with the song “Disappear”. A silent movie jive – well that is a novel idea!
The following season was a bumper Eurovision year on “Let’s Dance” with 1998’s Guildo Horn taking to the stage. He knew how to put on a show in Birmingham at Eurovision and in 2007 he finished 6th in “Let’s Dance”. However Guildo was to be eclipsed by one of the most successful people to compete at Eurovision and never to have won the contest. That has to be Katja Ebstein. Twice she finished 3rd at Eurovision – 1970 and 1971 and then in 1980 she was runner-up to one Mr Johnny Logan. In 2007 it was Deja Vu for Katja where she was pipped to the winning post in “Let’s Dance”. What does this woman have to do to win a competition!
Austria may have only won Eurovision once, but their singers have had better fortunes in “Dancing Stars”. Twice in the shows history – Eurovision singers have won the glitter ball for their dancing prowess.
First up was the rather smoldering Manuel Ortega who represented Austria in 2002 with the song “Say a Word” that placed 18th at Eurovision. In 2006 he was to go on and win “Dancing Stars” with his dance partner Kelly Kainz. This short clip shows the “Dirty Dancing” moment that we all think that we can do – especially after alcohol is involved.
Let’s hear it for the girls, as Eurovision’s Petra Frey was not going to be outdone by Manuel. Petra represented Austria at Eurovision in 1994 with the song “Für den Frieden der Welt” and placed 17th. In 2012 she went on to win “Dancing Stars” in Austria with her dance partner Vadim Garbuzov. She certainly knew how to “Cha Cha Cha” to winning the competition.
What you can clearly see is that Eurovision singers like a good competition that is full of glitz and glam. Is it no wonder that these shows are popular all over Europe. They are all in preparation for the main event that is Eurovision in the summer. Months of practice, getting the steps right, the dress perfect and all for a 3 minute performance that will get or NOT get you the votes of the Jury and the Public. Eurovision and “Strictly Come Dancing”, “Dancing With The Stars” and “Let’s Dance” are entwined in a passionate Tango of glitter, sequins and fake tan – now and forever. The ultimate family shows always win!
Author/Website co-founder and Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall
Source – Eurovision Ireland