INTERVIEW: Vincent Simone, Dance ‘Til Dawn, Sunderland Empire

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Duo Vincent and Flavia promise to set the Sunderland stage alight with their dazzling dance moves later this month. Katy Wheeler speaks to Vincent to find out about their latest tour.

Passion and power collide in a glittering fast-footed ode to the golden age of Hollywood.

Dance ’Til Dawn is the latest show from top tappers Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, former world champions who’ve spent twenty years perfecting their footwork precision.

After rising to prominence on hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, the pair set about creating their own stage show in which they could waltz their way through various styles.

Famed for their Argentine tango, they launched Midnight Tango in 2010, which went on to thrill more than half-a-million people across the UK on tour, and in London’s West End.

Stablemate show Dance ’Til Dawn has also proved a hit, securing a West End residency last year.

Now the show’s back on the road, rolling into Sunderland later this month with a truckload of shimmering frocks and tap shoes in tow.

“The show has been getting so much appreciation, from the audience, to the reviews from top journalists who give us five stars, to the ex Strictly dancers who say they love it,” says Vincent enthusiastically.

He added: “But you don’t have to be a dance fanatic to enjoy the show, it’s got a story and drama and comedy as well.

“Me and Flavia pen the story through dance, but we also have a narrator, an amazing singer and an unbelievable band who’ve played with Jools Holland. They’re among the best in the country.”

Fusing musical theatre, dance, romance and comedy, Dance ’Til Dawn transports audiences to the seductive age of Los Angeles in the 1940s.

In the midst of a Hollywood film shoot, leading man Bobby Burns is murdered and a romance develops between beautiful starlet Sadie Strauss (Flavia Cacace) and her handsome lover Tony DeLuca (Vincent Simone).

As a plot to frame Tony DeLuca unfolds, the duo use their flawless footwork to tango and quickstep their way out of trouble and into each other’s arms.

The show also features a live band, performing iconic numbers including Feeling Good, Moon River and Stand By Me.

“We did Midnight Tango, which was obviously very focused on the tango, but this is more varied, from swing through to cha cha cha to quick step,” explained Vincent.

“It’s set in the ’40s, which goes with the glamour of the story, we have gangsters and a film set.

“The story is about the filming of a movie, and we see things behind the scenes with the protagonist.

“We have an amazing cast, and a great story. I remember first reading the story and thinking ‘how will we tell this through dance?’

“Me and Flavia looked through our repertoire and chose songs in relation to the story.

“There are modern songs as well, it all fits beautifully under one umbrella.”

Although Vincent has a great fondness for Strictly, the show which launched his show business career, he says there’s nothing like the thrill of seeing dance live.

“TV is great but it can look staged,” he said. “Seeing it in person is so different, because it takes you into this other world.

“We take you to the film set, to the prison, to the glamorous club. Even the touch of a hand can convey so much more when you see it before your eyes. In 3D you get more sense of what’s really happening.”

So what is it about Vincent and Flavia that makes their partnership work?

“We’ve been dancing for 20 years. We have an amazing partnership and people love that connection,” he said.

“We’re perfectly matched, in height, speed and power.

“I moved to England from Italy for the dancing. My teacher had lined up five girls for me as potential dance partners and one was Flavia.

“I remember looking at the teacher’s face and they said “definitely”.

“The Strictly thing came from nowhere. We joined in the third year and before then we had people coming to us asking us to teach them dances they had seen on this new show.

“Now everyone knows what the cha cha cha is and the tango.

“It’s changed people’s views of dancing.”

Speaking about his six years on the TV show, which has seen him dance with celebrity partners including Stephanie Beacham, Rachel Stevens, Natalie Cassidy and Edwina Currie, he said: “I’ve been really lucky in that all of my partners have been really keen, which is the main thing.

“You have to be keen and to love the show. I think the best was Rachel Stevens as you could teach her any technique.

“At the time we broke most of the records on the show and it was my first time in the final.”

•Dance ’Til Dawn is at Sunderland Empire from February 17-21. Tickets are available in person at the Box Office from £10 or from £12.90 from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland.