It may be their swansong theatre tour, but dazzling duo Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace-Mistry won’t be hanging up their dancing shoes altogether.
Since leaving hit show, Strictly Come Dancing, they’ve been cutting a dash across the nation’s theatre stages in sell-out hit shows Midnight Tango and Dance ’Til Dawn.
This week they embark on their last theatre show, poignantly titled The Last Tango, which will visit the region twice as part of a 32-date tour.
Ahead of the show’s opening, I was invited to watch rehearsals in London. It was a chance to see the speedy footwork of the World Argentine Tango Champions up close and personal.
Their feet move at lightning speed, in perfect unison – a synchronicity that comes from 20 years of dancing together. You feel yourself getting out of breath just watching them as the pair whisk through the steps together, complementing each other’s moves to perfection.
It’s this live experience, the rat tat tatting of their feet and the swish of fabric as Flavia is whisked off her dainty feet that has propelled their touring shows to huge success, earning them rave reviews and Olivier Award nominations.
Vincent says they never expected the shows to take off so spectacularly.
“When we did Midnight Tango it was our first proper taste of theatre,” he explained. “We’re not musical theatre people, we had no experience of being on stage or being part of a musical.
“But we fell in love with the whole story, the beginning, the middle, the end, the lighting, the world you can create on stage. We always felt it should be a trilogy, a box set of three shows. It’s a hybrid of our world and the musical theatre world.
“With the second show, Dance ’Til Dawn, we really pushed the boundaries and we loved it so much we wanted to come back and do a little more of a tango feel, but show our other styles as well as a way of telling the story.”
Though dancing comes easily to the pair, acting was something they had to learn.
“As dancers, we would rumba over to a glass of water, so we’ve had to learn new ways,” joked Vincent.
Speaking about why they decided to make this their last show, Flavia said: “We can’t do eight shows a week forever and ever. We love it, but it’s exhausting, physically, and mentally on the mind, because of the repetition. A fourth one may break us.
“But we are so proud, every time we worry it won’t be as good, but every time it improves so much, we really put our heart into it.”
The star duo have teamed up with the same backstage team from their previous tours.
“Each time it’s been successful, so why change that, it’s a combination that works well,” said Flavia.
As such, The Last Tango is directed by Olivier Award winning choreographer and director Karen Bruce and produced by Adam Spiegel Productions.
Karen was on hand with her expert advice in rehearsals.
“I had the luck to work with Vincent and Flavia on their last two shows. They have an extreme talent, that only they seem to be able to do. No other humans seem to be able to go that fast,” she said.
Speaking about what audiences can expect from the show, which visits Newcastle next month and Sunderland in February, she said: “The third show is a celebration of many different styles of dance, but we’ve woven a story through. Obviously it’s about love, you can’t do the tango without passion.
“We follow a relationship through its whole life, from the first meeting through the highs and lows. We meet them in the 1930s and follow them through to the 70s/80s, without the dodgy fashion.
“So hopefully people can relate to what they go through and the beautiful shapes these people make.”
Over the years, the popular pair have amassed a legion of fans who’ll miss their on stage sizzle.
“People have been crying at stage door saying ‘why aren’t you on Strictly anymore’.”, said Vincent who says he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. “But we can’t be in two places at once. We love dancing together at the peak of our career. We did Strictly for 7/8 years and there is nothing more beautiful than dancing with a professional.
“We will just be putting our dance shoes away though, we won’t be hanging them up altogether.”
It’s fitting that the final show should reference the dance for which they have become most famous.
“We were the first to perform the Argentine tango live on British TV and it’s become more and more popular,” he explained. “For some reason the tango grabs people. You get so close you can feel each other’s heartbeat.
“The tango in this show is insane. There’s a lot of variety, but the cherry on the cake is the last tango we do in the show, it’s a super tango.”
Flavia said: “For me, it’s the tango music. As soon as I listen to it I get goosebumps. You hear the music and it almost tells the story itself. “It’s perfect for dance. Then when you have the audience there you can really feel the energy from them.
“Every performance is unique and we feel privileged to have done three shows.”
The pair say despite this being their final tour, they will dance again and are looking forward to being involved in other projects.
“A dream would be for there to be a tango film,” said Vincent. “Even if we’re not on screen we’d like to be involved in it, maybe teach Brad and Angelina how to tango.”
•Vincent and Flavia: The Last Tango is at Newcastle Theatre Royal from October 13-17. Tel. 08448 112121 or visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk.
•The show returns to the North East from February 9-13 at Sunderland Empire. Tel 0844 871 3022 or visit www.atgtickets.com