Dancer Mark Atchison Talks About Touring With MJ And What Helped Him Turn His Life Around

Sources: Warrington Guardian – By Hannah Bergery | All Things Michael

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MANY lives have changed since Mr Smith’s heyday in the late 1980s.

But only a handful can claim their connection with the famous night club was truly life-changing.

Mark Atchison, better known in the town as Bov, enjoyed a whirlwind three months supporting music legend Michael Jackson on his Dangerous European tour as well as coaching Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson and still inspires dancers in Warrington today.

But he says his success is all thanks to the dancers at Mr Smith’s who helped him turn his life around.

The 45-year-old added: “Back in 1988 I was quite badly behaved and had just come out of prison after serving a four-month sentence for fighting.

“I didn’t know where I was going in life and got dragged to Mr Smith’s for a dance class with the Hitman and Her dancers by a mate.

Mark at the former site of Mr. Smith's

Mark at the former site of Mr. Smith’s

“They smashed me all over the place with their moves and I apologised to Clive Donaldson, who was running it, for being so bad and asked if I could go back again.”

After improving with the help of the Hitman and Her crew, Mark became part of the show and for the next two-and-a-half years was a regular face dancing alongside his friend Jaffa, from Runcorn.

The pair admit they loved being on the show but were keen to find a way to make it pay and started asking acts on the show if they needed dancers.

Their persistence led to them supporting Everybody’s Free popstar Rozalla on tour in Germany but they could not believe it when she switched labels to the same one as Michael Jackson and was asked to join him on his European tour in 1992.

The Orford dance teacher said: “It was 39 shows in 15 different countries over three months and we went from dancing in front of 10,000 to 110,000 people in Paris.

“When we got to Wembley we invited Michaela Strachan to watch us because her and Pete Waterman always had a soft spot for us as we were council estate kids and she said she cried because she was so proud of us.

“When we came off stage in Barcelona, we were told Michael Jackson wanted to see us and he thanked me for touring with him which I thought was hilarious.

“He said he had seen me dance and it was amazing. I was 21 at the time and didn’t know what to say and then we got a picture with him which is one of my most prized possessions.

“It was one of those moments you can’t forget and the Michael Jackson dancers were asking us for moves we had learnt in Warrington. You can’t make that up!”

Rozalla and her dancers were invited to support the Thriller singer across North and South America but sadly the opportunity was turned down as Rozalla wanted to work on a new album.

It meant Mark had to return home but despite a taste of life supporting music royalty, he has never forgotten his roots and is still thankful to Mr Smith’s.

“My dance career lasted 30 years on the back of what I learnt at Mr Smith’s and what happened in there changed my life completely”, Mark adds.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say I was going nowhere until I took that class and what I learnt I’ve been able to pass on to others like George Sampson.

“I’ve been surprised how devastating it feels to see it demolished and can’t imagine what it’s going to be like going past and not seeing it there.

“But my Mr Smith’s memories will always be pretty strong.”

 

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