Review: Remembering the Oscars (online)

Strictly Come Dancing was the saving grace for many in 2020, giving us a much-needed dose of normality during what was certainly an unpredictable year. And for those of us who can’t wait for the next series to hit our screens later this year, Strictly dancers Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara have got us covered. After their UK tour of Remembering the Oscars was postponed to 2022, the pair have filmed a one-hour online special which celebrates the magic of the movies. 

With direction and choreography from Gareth Walker, Remembering the Oscars sees Aljaž and Janette, along with an ensemble of dancers, perform a number of stunning dances from classic movies, including Dirty Dancing, An American in Paris, Mary Poppins and Singing in the Rain, as they celebrate Oscar-winning and nominated films, songs and choreography. 

The show opens in spectacular style with a red carpet scene complete with top hat and tails and glamorous dresses, before there’s a medley of brief routines to well-known movies – including the theme tune to Rocky with a training sequence by Aljaž, and Janette donning her leg warmers to dance to What A Feeling from Flashdance. In one particular highlight the pair unite to take on the infamous lift in Dirty Dancing’s Time of my Life (note: don’t try this at home). This fun sequence thoroughly entertains and whets the audiences’ appetite for what’s to come later in the show. 

After a strong opening the pair then introduce different award categories, such as Best Actress and Best Picture before performing dances from nominated films. Back in the 1930s the Academy gave out a Best Dance Direction Oscar before it was discontinued. In Remembering the Oscars Aljaž and Janette reintroduce this award and pay tribute to choreographers of films such as Carousel, Singing in the Rain and La La Land. This is a joyous section, rounded off with Janette’s fresh and sultry performance of All That Jazz from Chicago, and proves just why choreographers deserve recognition for all their hard work. 

Janette is a self-confessed Disney fan and so it comes as no surprise that the pair introduce an honorary award, with a sequence featuring Disney classics. This really is an ensemble piece, with the pair joined by their fellow dancers to bring to life much-loved Disney songs from the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Frozen, before a wonderful tribute to Mary Poppins. Janette seems to be having the time of her life as Mary, and the team dance to Chim chim cher-ee, Trip A Little Light Fantastic and, of course, the brilliant Step in Time. 

With so many dance routines packed into the hour-long show it’s impossible to choose a favourite, but Aljaž and Janette’s beautiful dance to Kissing You from Romeo and Juliet is certainly a highlight, as is You Must Love Me/Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from Evita (with Ash-Leigh Hunter joining Aljaž). The show finale, One from A Chorus Line, which Janette danced to with HRVY in the finale of last year’s Strictly, was also a fitting end to a spectacular show.  

Aljaž and Janette are great hosts, and their enthusiasm for film and dance is evident throughout. They perform each and every dance with elegance and grace, and even manage to make the Argentine Tango – performed to Por Una Cabeza from Scent of a Woman – look effortless. The beautiful choreography accompanied by video backdrops and incredible vocals from Janine Johnson and Giovanni Spanó ensure that Remembering the Oscars really is a Hollywood spectacular. With some stunning performances from incredibly talented dancers, Remembering the Oscars is the escapism we all need right now, and a tantalising teaser of what audiences can expect when the tour finally begins next year.  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Remembering the Oscars is streaming worldwide from Saturday 27 March – Saturday 17 April 2021.

Photo credit: Ryan X Howard

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