Sunderland performers Lily and Joseph wow TV audiences and captain Cheryl on The Greatest Dancer

Their emotional and captivating routine stole of the hearts of television audiences up and down the country.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 2:33 pm
Lily and Joseph performed on the first episode of The Greatest Dancer on Saturday, January 4. Picture: Alex Peace Photography.

And now Sunderland youngsters, and The Greatest Dancer contestants, Lily and Joseph hope to have their home city’s backing as they look towards performing in the TV competition’s live shows.

Lily Straughan, 10, and Joseph Chow, eight, wowed dance captains Cheryl and Oti Mabuse as they appeared on the BBC One programme on Saturday – so much so, that the Geordie picked the pair as one of her top three acts, securing them a place in the competition's live rounds.

The children, who have been partners since April last year, are now training hard at The Worx – Dance Theatre Arts, in Sunderland’s High Street West, for the next stage of the show.

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Co-principal Keeran Rose Greener, who teaches them, has spoken of her pride in the young dancers, who have had to keep their success a secret since recording the episode over the summer.

She told the Echo: “It’s been really emotional – when they have put that much work in.

“They are really funny and they really love each other and everyone and everything.

“I don’t think they know how big it’s gotten already. It’s given me the proudest feeling in the world.”

Lily and Joseph celebrating their place in the competition and, right, with teachers Keeran and Bethany at their audition.

How does the show work?

Launched by the BBC in 2019, The Greatest Dancer sees the audience in charge from the show's initial audition rounds.

Contestants are welcomed to a dance studio by receptionist Curtis Pritchard (of Dancing with the Stars and Love Island) to perform in a mirror-panelled room.

If enough audience members vote that they like the routine, the studio will then open up to a huge audience and four dance captains.

The youngsters are now training hard for the live shows. Picture: Alex Peace Photography.

Acts can then be chosen to go through to a “callbacks” round.

After a number of audition rounds, each dance captain will pick three called-back acts to mentor for the live shows.

Alongside Cheryl and Oti, this year’s captains are actor, dancer and singer Matthew Morrison and Todrick Hall, a semi-finalist on American Idol, making his debut for the 2020 series.

And it’s safe to say that Lily and Joseph really impressed, with Cheryl picking them to go straight through as one of her acts.

Joseph with mum Natasha, left, and Lily with mum Karen.

They bypassed the callbacks as part of a new “Greatest Dancer of the Day” feature, which sees one of the captains given permission to pick someone for their team.

Hard work pays off

Keeran set up The Worx with sister Bethany Greener 10 years ago, and this September the pair have plans to launch The Worx Academy; a full time BTEC Extended Diploma in dance and performing arts for 16-to 18-year-olds.

The sisters loved dancing from a young age and channelled their own passion into teaching others.

Lily has been learning for three years, while Joseph has only been taking lessons for 18 months.

The youngsters can perform across a range of styles – but especially love jazz and musical theatre, which showcases their energy, and contemporary.

Lily and Joseph in action. Picture: Alex Peace Photography.

As the live shows begin, Lily and Joseph will get the chance to perform a different-themed routine each week, depending on how long they continue in the show.

Keeran said they children were inspired to apply after watching in 2019 and admiring the work of duo Harry & Eleiyah, who came runners-up.

“They are working really, really hard for the live shows now,” she added.

“There were huge acts, big groups and professional, adult dancers and Cheryl chose them as her act of the day.”

As the programme aired on Saturday, members of The Worx joined together for a viewing party at The Avenue in Roker to watch and find out how they had gotten on.

Lily and Joseph are expected to be back on The Greatest Dancer on Saturday, February 1.