The history of music intertwining with dance is as old as music and dance are themselves, and these days Strictly Come Dancing can sometimes feel almost as longstanding. Really, who can now imagine autumn without the besequined battle for the glitterball trophy? Given that the series first foxtrotted onto our screens as far back as 2004, there's actually now a generation of British children and teenagers who have grown up not knowing popular culture without it.

Janette Manrara, Giovanni Pernice, Kevin Clifton and Aljaž Škorjanec © BBC | Mark Allan
Janette Manrara, Giovanni Pernice, Kevin Clifton and Aljaž Škorjanec
© BBC | Mark Allan

Will all this in mind, the first surprise attached to last night's Strictly Prom was simply that it hadn't happened years ago, way ahead of previous razzmatazz television-pegged productions such as the BBC Sport Prom or those three Doctor Who ones. Indeed, perhaps it was only BBC Proms anchorwoman Katie Derham having reached the finals of the 2015 competition that saved us from a Great British Bake Off Prom this year. As it was, though, last night finally brought us an outreach prom that just felt immensely right, and it got off to a flying start, the opening bars of Jule Styne's Gypsy overture being the cue for Strictly dancers Aljaž Škorjanec with Janette Manrara, and Giovanni Pernice with Joanne Clifton – themselves a symphony of electric blue ostrich feathers and sequins – rising in eye-catching lifts from amongst the prommers in the arena itself. Dancing onstage, they were joined by fellow Strictly dancers Kevin and Karen Clifton for an exuberant Foxtrot/American Smooth amalgam, and as the audience rapturously cheered, and the giant glitterball above our heads cast spinning dappled reflections over everything, the atmosphere could not have been more joyous and fun-filled.

The programme itself was simple and effective: an exploration of the ways in which composers have been inspired by dance, with danced numbers alternating with orchestra-only ones, presented from the stage by Derham, who in turn got her own dancing clogs back out for a Quickstep to Harry Warren's 42nd Street, and a Viennese Waltz to Walter Earl Brown's If I Can Dream.

Kevin Clifton and Karen Clifton © BBC | Mark Allan
Kevin Clifton and Karen Clifton
© BBC | Mark Allan

On the whole it all worked like a dream, too. Dance-wise, highlights included Manrara and Škorjanec in an immensely tender and lovely Rumba to John Barry's Somewhere in Time, and an eye-poppingly sharp Samba from Karen and Kevin Clifton that rightly brought the house down. In fact, the only dance that didn't quite hit all the buttons was the one to Debussy's orchestration of Satie's Gymnopédie no. 1, where the choreography of Joanne Clifton and Giovanni Pernice's slow waltz would have done better to concentrate purely on mirroring the music's dreamy rise and fall, rather than trying as it did to attach a rather clunky “lovers about to part” narrative complete with unwieldy suitcase prop to occasionally lug about.

The BBC Concert Orchestra under Gavin Sutherland were as twinkle-toed and on fire as the dancers themselves, absolutely filling the hall with their sound from the off. Bizet's Farandole from L'Arlésienne crackled with martial energy and light-footed joie de vivre, the cheeky rubatos and humour of their Fledermaus overture were frankly delicious, and the long lines of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Pas de deux soared huge and warm. A testament to their music making was the fact that their solo numbers were received with every bit as much enthusiasm as the danced ones by the clearly predominantly Strictly, rather than habitual Proms, audience.

Janette Manrara and Aljaž Škorjanec © BBC | Mark Allan
Janette Manrara and Aljaž Škorjanec
© BBC | Mark Allan

As for the onstage presentation, this was easily the most unnatural part of the evening, despite the actual content of the music and dance explainers being well pitched. The scripted jokes and pretend-off-the-cuff banter achieved levels of stiffness that had me close to weeping into my (gold, glitterball-shaped) programme at times, and if Derham's occasional interviews with the dancers were all about pushing home the joys of classical music to this atypical Proms audience, then they needed to be more probing and personal than asking whether dancing with orchestras was fun. Still, right near the end Kevin Clifton came up with the goods; reminiscing over how he and his wife Joanne had noticed and been drawn to the Proms atmosphere from their sofa last year whilst watching the television broadcasts, he concluded with genuine pleasure, “and one year on, we're here and actually in it!” (or words to that effect). And in those few short sentences he articulated the prom's message with a sincerity that hammered home: that the Proms are in London every summer, that their atmosphere is unlike any other classical event, that you can watch them on the box, but that you can also come and have the time of your life no matter what your previous exposure to classical music has been.

The bust over the stage of Sir Henry Wood may be made of bronze, but as the orchestra played us out with the Strictly theme whilst a blizzard of gold ticker tape showered down from the ceiling, it wouldn't have surprised me if his moustache hadn't twitched ever so slightly. Really, you'd have had to be made of stone not to have smiled last night.