My Week: Arlene Phillips

The former 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge reveals that choreographers can have burlesque for breakfast
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The Independent Online


I have a day of meetings, and they're never in the same place. My first meeting is in north London, so I'm going against the traffic. I drive a little car, and I love to drive myself.

Then I have a meeting in Oxford Street and then another in Covent Garden. The meetings are all about possible work and opportunities that are coming up. My real career as a choreographer already means that my diary is pretty full, so fitting anything else in doesn't seem possible unless I'm absolutely passionate about it – but it's very nice being asked to do many things.


It's another day of meetings, with one very, very early talk about creating a new show, a kind of late-night, burlesque-style show that hasn't been seen here before. I spend most of the day discussing a show that I'm doing in the O2 in December called Sacred Flame, which I'm directing. Everyone – from music to set design, to costumes to our producer, to choreographers and associate choreographers – is coming in and out. I don't stop talking until about four o'clock – I can talk a lot – and it was just non-stop. Then I leave for a photo shoot in Kentish Town for a magazine, and I had to stop and slow down to get the hair and make-up done. I'm not very good at being still.


I have more early meetings and then, joy of joys, I jump into the car with my family and head down to my cottage in Herefordshire to spend a couple of days just taking some time out. Then in the evening the story starts to break about my work with Andy Burnham [joining a dance champions group promoting fitness dancing], so the phones are ringing. I just think: "No, I'm just going to leave all of this until tomorrow. I'm going to be very calm." Instead we go to a wonderful local pub for a family meal, and that sort of calms me down. It's very nice; we know everyone there and it's sweet and friendly.


I start the day with a quick phone call to Andrew Lloyd Webber, and then I'm straight into hair and make-up as I've agreed to do a certain amount of news interviews specifically on my role with the Dance Champions Group. I always say if people can walk to music, they can dance to music. Our first big meeting is in September to work out how much everyone is involved, and how we'll go about it. It's going to take time, but we're looking to get it really working by 2012.


I have an entire day off, an entire day for myself, just to relax and prepare for the meetings that I've got over the weekend for the show. And if I have a day off what do I do? Pretty much nothing. I just sit outside and try to find a way to stop myself pacing. I walk around, read the newspapers, read a book, and watch my daughter bouncing on the trampoline, getting herself fit and healthy. A lovely day with the family; what more could I ask for?