My haven, Dame Arlene Phillips: The choreographer and former Strictly judge, 78, in the living room of her home in North London
- Dame Arlene Phillips shares items of significance in the living room of her home
- The choreographer and former Strictly judge treasures a pair of dance shoes
- The 78-year-old also cherishes a voting paddle she had made for charity events
Dame Arlene Phillips shares items of significance in the living room of her home (pictured)
1. Dancing feet
I studied ballet and tap from the age of three and am still dancing. This room is a big space and very minimalist, which I like, and I can move the tables to use it as a dance studio. I got these dance shoes when I was 16 and used them in class for years. Dancers push themselves to the limits and I have the most misshapen feet, with toes going in all directions. Modern dance shoes are far more flexible – they move with your feet instead of trapping them.
2. My top vote
‘I got these dance shoes when I was 16 and used them in class for years’, said Arlene
I was a judge on Strictly Come Dancing when it started in 2004, and in the six series I was on, my favourite dance was Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy’s Argentine Tango. I absolutely loved Strictly and was never given an official reason why I was dropped, other than they wanted a change. I had this voting paddle made for photoshoots and charity events.
3. A bumpy beginning
I met my partner Angus when I was choreographing the video for Freddie Mercury’s single I Was Born To Love You in 1985. A dancer hit her head on the set and went to hospital. Angus, who was a scenery builder, told me off, though it wasn’t my fault. Two days later we were both working on an AC/DC video, started to chat and never stopped! He gave me this Tiffany ring, but we’ve never married. He’s 65, so he’s my toyboy… and always will be!
5. Family legacy
This is my father Manny, who was a barber, and mother Rita, who stayed at home to raise three children. This old children’s book Dimples reminds me of Mum as it was her nickname. She died of leukaemia when I was 15. My parents inspired me to dance by playing the classic ballets on a record player. I didn’t have the right physique for ballet, so I became a dance teacher. Dad lived to 89, but sadly Mum never saw where the inspiration she gave me led me.
4. Musical memories
I have choreographed at least ten West End stage shows. My favourite is my first, Starlight Express, and this is the programme. It started in 1984 and since then I’ve worked on productions around the world so it’s close to my heart. The paperweight marks ten years of the Queen musical We Will Rock You at The Dominion Theatre. It meant so much to work on it, and I also made videos for Queen and for Freddie Mercury. I adored Freddie, he was wonderful and wild and a brilliant creator as well as entertainer.
6. Gossip girls
I formed Hot Gossip in 1974 to show the passion, sensuality and sexuality of dance. They were my best students when I was teaching at The Dance Centre in Covent Garden. Andrew Lloyd Webber was a huge fan and after Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip performed I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper on The Kenny Everett Video Show, she auditioned for his show Cats. He discovered what an extraordinary voice she had, so her story all started there.
Arlene has choreographed new musical What’s New Pussycat?, featuring the music of Tom Jones, at the Birmingham Rep until 14 November, birmingham-rep.co.uk
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