Strictly Come Dancing's Vincent Simone discusses his new show, Midnight Tango
The TV star performs with Strictly partner Flavia Cacace
Picture the scene: a devastatingly handsome man leads you to the dance floor. Sweeping you off your feet and into that most passionate of dances, the tango, you reel with the sheer romance and excitement of it all. Then, when you think life can’t possibly get any sweeter, he whisks you home and presents you with the most delectable homemade tiramisu. What a perfect fantasy!
And what a lucky girl Strictly Come Dancing star Vincent Simone’s girlfriend is, because for her this idyllic scenario is a reality. Or at least it will be when she pops along to see her man at various places on the Midnight Tango tour.
Having taken almost £10 million at the box office (2011 tour, West End run and advance ticket sales for 2012 tour combined) and wowed both audiences and critics alike, Vincent and his dance partner Flavia Cacace, who are also the show’s choreographers, are about to tour the UK with Midnight Tango for a second time.
One of the country’s most successful Argentine tango acts, having competed successfully together for many years, winning a huge fan base more recently after joining BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Vincent and Flavia are thrilled with the success of Midnight Tango, which Vincent reckons is due, in part at least, to thoroughly exceeding theatregoers’ expectations.
'People love us from Strictly but I don’t think they expect such a big show,' he says, proudly. 'We have such a fantastic set and a really amazing live band [renowned tango band, Tango Siempre], which is worth the ticket price alone in my opinion. We also have the most fantastic dancers in the world from Argentina, wonderful actors and a great story filled with passion and people falling in love. It is such a great show,' he beams. 'People don’t expect all that so it’s a real bonus for them.'
Co-produced by West End theatre producer Adam Spiegel and the UK’s acclaimed choreographer Arlene Phillips, and set in a late-night bar in downtown Buenos Aires, former World Champions Vincent and Flavia take the audience on a journey into the heart of this intoxicating city. Combining danger and excitement, joy and jealousy and pain and passion into a spectacular and explosive evening, the breathtaking choreography fused with seductive tango rhythms seldom fails to bring audiences to their feet.
And while the reviews have been raves, Vincent and Flavia are especially pleased that people of all ages have been bewitched. 'You don’t have to be a tango fanatic to enjoy it and we have very mixed audiences coming to see the show; from young children to grandparents. It is lovely that they all enjoy it,' says Vincent, who admits that taking the show to a UK-wide audience is a great buzz.
'Flavia and I are really looking forward to touring. We love the show and we want to make sure that as many people as possible come to see it,' nods Vincent, admitting that he lobbied the producers to ensure that Scotland was included in the tour plans.
'We are going to be touring around the best cities in the UK and we are really looking forward to Scotland. Scottish people are lovely – they go mad for the show and we love to visit them,' he enthuses.
And while you might imagine that Strictly is a tough commitment in terms of time and energy, it seems that Midnight Tango is in a different league entirely.
'It is much more energetic and physically demanding. Flavia and I dance at maximum power and at our maximum capability, whereas on Strictly you’re restricted, no matter how good the celebrities are.'
But undoubtedly Strictly is responsible for the dance renaissance of recent years, with new fans won over by the elegance, skill and beauty of the dancers and quickly becoming familiar with the different dances.
'Yes, people now know what a Rumba or a Ch-cha-cha or a Foxtrot looks like,' confirms Vincent, adding that the boys on Strictly prove that being a boy who can dance has its advantages.
'We show that being able to move your body and dance with a partner is cool. We promote dancing and that is fantastic.'
Talking of promoting dancing, Arlene Phillips claims that anyone can learn to dance. Does Vincent share her view?
'Yes, absolutely,' he says, firmly. 'Some people take longer to learn than others, but I’ve taught blind people, people with hearing problems and people who have limited musicality and rhythm, but it is simple: if you love dance then you will learn.'
With just a week off between the two projects there is barely time to catch their breath between the end of Midnight Tango and the start of the new Strictly season; scarcely time to jet off and flop on a beach. But everyone needs to let off some steam sometimes, even highly disciplined dancers, so how does Vincent relax?
'My personal thing, and I know that Flavia is the same, is to be as normal as possible. I just like to sit on the sofa and watch TV, drink nice espresso, walk – just be as boring and normal as possible! And I like to enjoy my car and motorbike – I have just bought myself a lovely two-seater convertible – and I like to cook, especially Italian food like tiramisu, bread and pasta.'
And is he a good cook?
'Yes, I would say so. When you live in a house where your mamma cooks all the time then you get to learn to be a good cook! As dancers we don’t have to watch what we eat too much, that’s the good thing about it, but I try to eat healthy food.'
But of all the pleasurable pastimes he lists, it is Vincent’s love for dancing that comes through as loud and as clear as a tango band at full throttle. It puts one in mind of the scene in Billy Elliott when Billy is auditioning at the Royal Ballet School and one of the panel ask him to describe how he feels when he dances. Cue the song 'Electricity'. Is it the same for Vincent?
'The only way I can describe it is that if someone asked me what the very worst thing that could happen to me was, it would be that I couldn’t dance. Dancing is everything to me. I believe that dance chose me. I didn’t choose the dance; it happened by magic.'
But as he dashes back into rehearsals for Midnight Tango it is doubtful that this gorgeous super-talented man recognises that ‘magic’ is just what we feel when we watch him and Flavia perform together.
Oh yes, with Vincent and Flavia you definitely know when you’ve been tangoed.