7:40am Saturday 31st May 2014
By Chris Baynes
Expect stylish salsa and flourishes of foxtrot as a primetime TV favourite comes to the stage, writes Chris Baynes.
Celebrities rising to the challenge or (literally) stumbling and falling might be what draws viewers to the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
But the Saturday night show would be nothing without the talented professional dancers who put the nation’s sports and soap stars through their paces.
Such is the programme’s popularity that those dancers have reached fame in their own right, so expect Fairfield Halls to be packed when two of them bring their latest stage show to Croydon.
Katya Virshilas and Pasha Kovalev, on tour together for the third year running, promise ballroom routines and sexy Latin dances night after night across 72 stages over four months.
Lithuanian-born Virshilas, who partnered sportsmen Phil Tufnell, Gavin Henson and Dan Lobb on the dancefloor during her three years on Strictly, says: “Our show is quite different. It is a very intimate experience. It has such an array of dances – everything from ballroom to cha-cha to Argentine tangos.
“We have got a question and answer period where the audience is quite involved because they text in questions and we’ve got a hilarious audience participation, so it is quite full on.
“For the last three years during all the shows we have been doing we try to invite pupils from a young, talented dance school to join us on stage.
“It is quite a nice collaboration because you get to expose young talent and they get to dance with professional dancers on stage.”
The 30-year-old, who has big-screen experience alongside Antonio Banderas in the 2006 musical drama Take the Lead, believes her friendship with Kovalev – who she has known since 2011 – benefits them both on the stage.
She says: “Knowing Pasha well helps me a lot. You trust each other and you know if something happens they’ll be right there to pick you up. It is great, we work really well together and we are really good friends. It is a good partnership.”
And while she could not pick her favourite dance partner because “it would be like picking a favourite child”, she needs no time to ponder before identifying former tennis player and TV presenter Lobb as the worst.
She explains: “His attitude was not so good. I don’t think he really wanted to do it.
“People who do great on that show are people that love Strictly.”
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