The Public Reviews’ Rich Jevons talks to Flavia Cacace about her dancing career with Vincent Simone and their latest theatrical production Dance ‘Til Dawn which is currently touring the UK.
What are your earliest memories of dancing?
I still remember my dance school from when I was five, and actually my very first dance teacher came to watch Dance ‘Til Dawn when we were in the West End. It was really lovely to see her; and quite a funny feeling knowing she was sitting in the audience watching.
When and how did you meet Vincent?
I was 16 years old and it was when we were both competing. We met through one of our mutual coaches, so it was pure coincidence – plus the fact that we were both Italians in the UK. Twenty years later, and we’re still dancing!
Could you tell us a bit about Midnight Tango?
Midnight Tango was our first solo theatre production that we put together. It was predominantly Argentine tango, set in an old rugged bar in Buenos Aires, and has been described as a tango ballet. It has a very simple story which sends people on a journey within this bar. There are lots of different characters and a love story, as well as comedy moments. We toured Midnight Tango for three years and did two West End runs.
Is it an enjoyment in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing to see people enter as a novice who then go on to win on the show?
I was known to be quite a patient teacher, so I was often partnered with people who needed a bit of care and attention. My main thing with teaching is that if someone has enthusiasm, then it really doesn’t matter who they are. You’re there to teach and get the best out of them.
One of my best years was with Russell Grant, who is a very close friend of mine now. We got all the way to Wembley and he was just an absolute pleasure to teach and to partner. We had the biggest giggles that you could possibly imagine! He was so enthusiastic, musical and energetic and he even lost about eight stone – so it was a new lease of life for him.
With Louis Smith we won the show in 2012, which was an amazing year to win because of the hype surrounding the Olympics. It was hard to get him comfortable dancing with a partner, rather than dancing on his own as he had done for so many years.
And now you’ve got your own instructional teaching aids?
We’ve always done a lot of teaching, but obviously it’s something now that we can’t really do. It’s really lovely when you go and do a class – whether it’s a group or a workshop – and at the end of it you just see how happy people are that they’ve learnt something. It’s a huge satisfaction.
So we decided to film some DVDs, and we’ve also got an iPhone app. You can learn at home and it’s ideal for people who are just a little fearful of just turning up at a class. It gives you the basic steps that you need.
Can you tell us a bit about the plot of Dance ‘Til Dawn?
It is a comedy set in the 1940s Hollywood glamour era, and the whole show is about the making of a film called Dance ‘Til Dawn. Our main set is a film studio, and my character Sadie Strauss is a very famous Hollywood star. My co-star in the film is called Bobby Burns and he’s actually my boyfriend at the time, but he’s a terrible person. He’s always looking at other girls and flirting. Vinny is a cheeky wannabe actor who is part of the cast of the film, but he wants to make it big.
There’s a romance which runs throughout the story, as well as a murder which happens on set and the whole story is about finding the culprit. During the show we take you to the Hollywood hills, we go to a pool party, a gangster’s den, so the set changes and takes people on a journey. There’s a detective and a femme fatale who is very funny, who help to tell the story.
What attracts you to that era?
The forties were a glamorous time and it’s an era that I love for the dresses and the costumes; the way they are cut. It also allows us to do different styles of dancing, so we can go from a salsa to a waltz to a foxtrot to a Charleston – and it all makes sense. 1940’s Hollywood gives us the flexibility to do that within a story.
Who are your creatives?
We’ve got a great set designer, Morgan Large, who designed our Midnight Tango set, Karen Bruce is our director and co-choreographer and Vicky Gill is our costume designer. We’ve got lots of people off-stage who we trust and without them those elements of the show would not be as good as they are.
Karen is a great person to work with, she is a very tough lady and I think most people would be quite scared of her, but that is part of why she is so successful. She is very visual and immediately knows if something works.
There’s a total truth to you and Vincent’s on-stage chemistry, isn’t there?
The thing is, we’ve danced together for twenty years now and I don’t think you can buy that. I don’t really think it’s possible to put two dancers together and then even after a couple of years expect that unison. All our lives we’ve developed together through our dancing, which means you mould and gel.
So choreographically, musically and in terms of weight distribution we dance as one. It’s just the number of years that we’ve done it; we’re so aware and sensitive of each other’s body weight. It’s second nature, we don’t think about it.
What would you like people to take away from the show?
Dance ‘til Dawn is just a very entertaining show and there’s something there for everybody, you don’t have to be a complete dance fanatic to just enjoy it.
Dance ‘til Dawn runs 30th March to 4th April 2015 at the Leeds Grand Theatre and touring, see http://www.dancetildawnonstage.com/tour/to find out more.