Her.ie Meets Strictly Come Dancing Stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace
Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace made their way into the nation’s homes and hearts on Strictly Come Dancing but now they are back with a brand new stage show, Dance 'Til Dawn.
After calming ourselves down and telling them our mums are their biggest fans, we spoke to the dance stars about how they met and whether they are feeling the pressure following the success of Midnight Tango.
So Vincent and Flavia, how did you get involved in dance?
Vincent: In Italy dancing has always been a big thing, I guess because of the weather. People always want to go out more in the summertime and you have these big outdoor places where they constantly play music and so I grew up with music in me – tango music and some ballroom. Then came the time when the first dance school opened in my town in Southern Italy and my parents took me there. At first I didn’t want to go but luckily my cousin, who is a couple of years older than me and someone I look up to, said ‘come, there’s nice girls’ and that’s what made me go and that’s it. I started dancing and my teacher used to give me so many compliments to the point where he said I should be doing competitions. In my first competition I came first in over 50 couples. I loved that feeling so much, and that’s it, I was off!
(Note: His accent is as dreamy in real life as it is on television.)
Flavia: I was five and I just started with my sister who is six years older than me. The local school in Guilford was a Ballroom and Latin school so rather than a ballet school, I started with that. There I did my rosettes and worked my way up through all the tests that you do. When I was 12, I started going into the competition side of things.
When did you two get together then?
V: I was quite successful in Italy. I was Italian champion and then I split up with my Italian partner. London at that time was the centre of ballroom dancing so I travelled there which I was going to do anyway. I approached my teacher at the time and he organised try-outs with female dancers. I loved that day because there were about five girls waiting for me so I walked into the room and I strolled in looking very Italian-ish. I danced with all of them but with Flavia, we gelled straight away and it was obvious. There was no doubt that we had to dance together so that’s why we started.
How important is your relationship to your success?
V: I think there's no doubt about the passion that we both have for what we do, and I can’t even think of a time that that’s going to end. I don’t think it will ever end because we love it so much and until my body can’t do it, I’m going to keep doing it. I think the fact that we both feel the same about the same music and choreographically sometimes she does things and I’ll think about doing something else to compliment it. I think it was just meant to be.
Then you did Strictly, what was that whole experience like?
F: Well we did Strictly before we did any stage work and already the show was very different to what we did in competitions. Those are usually in big ballrooms or halls so obviously we had to get used to a much smaller floor and having cameras dancing around us. It takes a couple of years to get an understanding for how that all works and getting used to performing on live television so it was quite a big deal. We did it for seven or eight years so you get to know how everything works but it does take a while to adjust. We also did the arena tour for two years and then the theatre tour with just the professionals, and that was our first introduction to theatre. From then on we were very lucky that we were approached by a producer and that’s how Midnight Tango came about. That really got us hooked into theatre which is very different from where we come from, but it’s something that we really get a buzz from not only because you’re performing but because you’re on a set which gives you a location. The new show, for example, is set in the 1940s so it sort of becomes your own world. After so many years of dancing a routine on a floor in a venue, it’s really nice to have the extra characters, other dancers, actors, the scenery, the lighting, the music and the costumes that all fit and blend into one. It becomes this little world that you create that people come to see.
Was it difficult to leave the show after so long?
F: It was a hard decision and it wasn’t like an overnight thing. There was a lot of thinking and deciding whether it was the right move to make. I think after seven or eight years of Strictly, you live through every possible experience on the show. We both made the final twice and I was lucky enough to win it. We just felt that we had this opportunity to do a new show and obviously doing a new show from scratch takes so much longer than just rehearsing a show that’s already up and running, which is what we did for two years with Midnight Tango. This time we thought it’s got to be really good because it's new and people will be comparing it to Midnight Tango. We kind of had to take some time out and give ourselves the time to create this new challenge.
As you said, Midnight Tango was such a success. How are you dealing with the expectation?
V: We had loads of support from our fans for Midnight Tango and usually with the shows they decrease the numbers of seats in the theatres, but actually we did the opposite because each year we had more people to the point where we sold out almost all the venues. So we feel like we have to come back and show something even better which is quite a hard task because what we did was already amazing, but I think we’re succeeding and we’re trying to bring different styles. It’s not just going to be Argentine Tango. Me and Flavia are doing what we do best which is Ballroom, Latin and Argentine Tango combined with musical theatre. We're working and trying to mould the show so that you don’t really see the difference but dancing wise, it’s quite amazing what we have achieved so far. On top of that, there’s an amazing story and there’s loads of acting. You should see Flavia acting, it’s hilarious! We’ve also got amazing actors, singers and a live band so we’re very proud and we’ve worked really hard for our audience. We just want to impress them even more.
Do you like performing in front of an Irish audience?
V: They're amazing. Actually, the first time we came to Belfast, it was hilarious because outside the stage door it was packed, mostly women of course. I just love the fact that they picked me up and threw me up in the air and then we came to Dublin and people are really touchy here. Italians are exactly the same so it was nice to go back to that sort of atmosphere.
Do you feed off the energy of the crowd?
F: Very much so, that’s the nice thing about theatre. Even while you don’t communicate with the audience while you’re performing, you can feel their reaction. There’s a lot of people and a lot of energy in the room and if they kind of get the joke, you feed off that so even when you’re tired and you’re thinking 'am I going to get through this one?', which does happen when you’re doing eight shows a week, the energy of the audience and the other dancers just takes you through.
Last but not least, can you describe Dance ‘Til Dawn in three words?
F: I think it will be unique, entertaining and ...
Dance ‘Til Dawn will be at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, from Tuesday 4th March to Saturday 8th March. Tickets, priced from €18, are available from Ticketmaster.