Strictly Ballroom Dancing, The Lowry, Salford

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The Independent Culture

The two hosts add a good few years, led by the sprightly 71-year-old Lionel Blair, tap, tap, tap-dancing away. He has found a rather good foil for his patter in Jane McDonald, a lady who can certainly sing, and who - with her honest little Northern asides - knows how to charm the ladies as well as the gentlemen. But there's a lot of flair in the terrific performances by the young couples, both in graceful stand-alone numbers and as an ensemble.

The brightest young stars are Danny Last and Jodie Binsteed, runners-up in Strictly Dance Fever. Bruce Lait and Crystal Main shine, too, smiling bravely as they attempt to teach salsa in the stalls. Five shimmying couples join them on stage, with the local "winners" Chris and Hannah returning minutes later to perform their party piece, the cha-cha.

There may be no new steps in the 10 popular dances incorporated into the show - waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, waltz, cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive - but the way some of their classical steps and formats are adapted is inventive and refreshing. The choreographers, Erin Boag and Anton du Beke of television's Strictly Come Dancing, know how to make a dance show sparkle. The rumba rumbles, the tango simmers, the foxtrot glides, and though there's little in the way of bone-breaking stunts, the way the girls spin in dizzyingly high heels is breathtaking.

Within a blue neon-lit frame, the various scenes are evoked mainly by clever lighting and a changing backdrop - a bit of Art Deco for Blair's "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails", blazing scarlet for fiesta time, lots of coloured bulbs strung over the tango, and puffs of dry ice adding a dash of mystique where required.

On the first night, the follow-spots weren't always on cue. Blair stumbled a bit over his dialogue, and both he and McDonald could do with oozing less with mutual admiration and excessively fulsome praise for the dancers. Once that has been tidied, though, it will be a four-star show, with Simon Coles's six-piece band and a couple of singers providing a medley of toe-tapping melodies.

To Saturday (0870 787 5780); then touring