As they danced with others at the packed Wembley Stadium last summer, Jason Tsuttas must have thought no one was watching.
But the 21-year-old Hillsborough man couldn’t be more wrong. Within a few weeks he was performing on his first professional show with the Nolan sisters’ headliners Maureen Nolan, BBC1’s Any Dream Will Do’s CBB’s Rebecca Keatley and Keith Jack.
He was one of the dancers to take part in a spectacular finale in front of over 60,000 people ahead of the Euro 2020 football final between England and Italy.
The two-show-a-day production of Snow White at the Stafford Gatehouse Theater didn’t have anywhere near that size of the crowd, but it was just as important to Jason—his first paying job as a professional dancer.
Strictly’s twinkling lights are now in his eyes—something the agents of the stars of popular shows are watching—but he’s not getting ahead of himself.
Passing college remains a priority, but how did the young man who has been dancing since the age of three found this first step on the road to stardom?
“A choreographer, Philip Joelle [from the Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts], came to our college at the end of September and auditioned to take the dancers to the pantos,” Jason told the Belfast Telegraph.
Which consisted of three different dance rounds. Then he took us to a room and called out the names of the four people he had chosen. Luckily, I was one of them. I had a partnership with Emma Kennedy and we worked together throughout the show.
“We started on November 26 and went through the whole of December.
“We had a week of rehearsing and learning all the dances, then four days of running it with lights and costumes. Then came the real thing – the audience!
“It was a lot of fun though. We had five or six dance numbers and there were some other scenes where we had to pretend to talk to each other—we were actors and singing while we were dancing.”
One of the benefits of being part of the troupe was getting Maureen to “sign to my Panto program.”
He said Maureen, who played the evil queen in Panto but had previously toured with stalwarts such as Frank Sinatra and Sir Cliff Richard, was a “hoot” when they went out for a meal.
“I got everyone to sign it so I could remember this job,” Jason said, adding that he really enjoyed working with Rebecca.
Sharing the changing room with West End star, Scottish actor and singer Keith Jack was an added bonus.
“He was my favorite guy to work with,” he said.
“I learned a lot from him. He told me what I should watch and different things I should be doing, auditions so that I could get noticed and it was all really good advice.”
After Anne Dreamed Will Do runner-up’s car hit black ice on the road and collided with a tree, Jason had to pose as the Handsome Prince for Keith on Christmas Day, causing him internal injuries.
“Thankfully Keith was fine, but it was both scary and exciting when I was on standby to replace him,” he said.
“I can sing a bit as well as dance, so he asked me to learn his script, in case it ever took off.
“He crashed his car on his way to Scotland to see his family. We thought he wasn’t going to come back, but he recovered in the end.”
Jason’s mother Amber (47), who owns the Amber Gordon School of Dance and was their first dance teacher, is their eldest child’s “biggest fan”.
She can’t wait for her next adventure after finishing Performers College in Basildon, Essex in July and “going into the big, bad world.”
So, will we finally see him strut his stuff on a certain BBC1 weekend show?
“It would be nice to go strictly,” he said.
“I’m actually choreographing my own stuff — I was doing this at mother’s school and when I was teaching.
“Strictly it would mean choreographing my partner’s work and I think I will do quite well.
“I just have to keep my head down, keep going and work and hopefully the rewards will come.”
He can also count on the support of dad George (46), a businessman originally from Athens, his three brothers Zak (16), Christo (14) and Lauka (12), and sister Xenia (10). When did they see it? He was back home earlier this month for a short vacation.
In the meantime, he’s going to follow Tess and Claudia’s advice – and keep dancing.