Croydon will enjoy a bit of Strictly Come Dancing-style glamour tomorrow evening with the opening of the Matico Dance Studio, as Matthew Cutler, a past Strictly champion is in town with Zumba supremo Enrico Stey to open the enterprise in Pitlake.
Cutler won Strictly with Alesha Dixon, recently poached by Simon Cowell for the judging panel of Britain’s Got Talent.
When Stey and Cutler first took it over, the derelict Croydon Conservatives Working Men’s Club still carried those ingrained yellow-brown stains of the years when smoking and beer were the venue’s staples. After years of vacant neglect, the place was almost derelict after trashing by vandals.
Now the place is to be re-born to Latin and Zumba rhythms and bathed in the reflected lights of a glitter ball and big dance mirrors you’ll find in any self-respecting professional dance studio.
A former world amateur champion with Nicole Cutler, Matthew Cutler’s trophy cupboard is jam-packed with the very highest accolades in Latin dancing, including winning the world masters professional championship.
Cutler has already been running classes in Norbury, but with him and Stey rolling up their sleeves to put the final licks of paint on the run-down hall, the Matico Studio will bring much-needed re-generation to the Pitlake estate, off Roman Way, where the Pitlake Arms was recently forced to close after police pressure.
Faith groups have recently moved in to the complex and the place, just a short distance from Croydon Old Town and parts of London Road that were touched by the 8/8 riots, seems to be on the up.
Despite the time pressures on Cutler and Stey as they put the finishing, artistic touches to their venue, they made some time to be interviewed before the curtain goes up by Andrew Pelling.
Matthew, what was Alesha Dixon like to dance with?
Alesha was amazing to dance with, she is such a perfectionist and really wanted to know the ins and outs of the basic steps very much in-depth.
Usually when someone is like this, who isn’t a professional dancer, it tends to stop them from performing, because they are thinking about the basic steps so much. However, Alesha was different, as soon as she stepped on to the dance floor she was transformed into a professional dancer and performed her heart out. It was amazing to feel that magical change.
Do Strictly judges keep themselves separate from the dancers?
Obviously the judges have to keep to themselves during the filming of the show. It isn’t professional for judges to mix with competitors.
However, afterwards in the BBC bar, it is a different story. Everyone relaxes and are themselves again and we have lots of fun.
Why do you excel particularly at Latin?
I started dancing at aged eight, and at that time when you are dancing it is just for fun. It was only when I started to compete that I started to get better results in Latin rather than ballroom. I also had a natural talent for Latin and found that style a lot easier than ballroom. Usually in our “Ballroom and Latin” world, you find out what style you are better at quite early on and stick to it.
What is Zumba and why has it caught on?
Zumba is a fitness programme based on Latin American rhythms and moves. The reason why we feel it is so successful is because, while being a great work out that is easy for everyone to follow, it is just so much fun.
We are hoping to add a little glamour to Croydon, but our main goal is to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere were everyone feels comfortable.
Would you recommend other performing arts businesses to come to Croydon?
Yes, it would be great to get more performing arts businesses to Croydon.
Is the Selmey studio in Norbury carrying on?
Yes, Semley Dance Academy will carry on as normal, with no changes to the class schedule.
Do you do classes for children? How young would they start?
We are hoping to start kids classes within the next month with different age groups, a toddler class for up to five-year-olds and then classes for all different age groups.
Do you need to bring a partner to attend classes, as a child or adult?
No, we are currently offering a ballroom and Latin class “Matico Style” which does not require a partner and is great fun. The Factory Lane car park is directly opposite Matico Dance Studio and offers 24 hours parking, so it is easy to access the studio.
What is Enrico going to concentrate on?
Zumba, ballroom and Latin and the general running of Matico Dance Studio.
Will you add other dancing styles to your offer?
We are still looking for teachers to teach different dance forms such as street, hip hop, disco and also will be offering studio space to hire for other dance classes.
- Matico’s launch event begins at 7pm this Saturday, February 11.
- Click here to contact Matico Dance Studio or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Alesha Dixon won’t be missed by Strictly Come Dancing (mirror.co.uk)
- Alesha Dixon quits Strictly for Britain’s Got Talent (mirror.co.uk)