Q&A with Flavia Cacace
Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace bring their new show to the Liverpool Empire from 31 March to 2 April 2014
I met with Flavia last week to talk about the upcoming show, Strictly Come Dancing, the Argentine tango and what she thinks of Liverpool.
Q – This show is all about old Hollywood glamour. What is it about that era that appeals to you?
Flavia – After three years of our last show, Midnight Tango, we wanted to do something very different and something that allowed us to do some of our other dances other than the Argentine tango. So we thought 1940s Hollywood we can go Fred and Ginger. So in this show we go from Charleston, tango, foxtrot, quickstep. We’ve got some Argentine tango, so there’s pretty much everything in there. The other cast members are West End dancers, so we’ve got their style of dancing as well and we’ve managed to fuse the two worlds together.
Q – And the Argentine tango fits in there?
Flavia – Yes, it fits in and we don’t apologise for it! It all makes sense within the story. It was a risk to make it work and seem logical, but so far the feedback from the audiences has been great.
Q – I’m sure no-one’s complaining! So, in terms of having a live band, does this make it special for you?
Flavia – It’s incredible. We’ve got an amazing musical director (Karen Bruce) and we’ve picked songs we’ve always wanted to use. We’ve picked some and Karen picked some and we’ve fused them together to make the different parts of the story so we’ve got highs and lows. We’ve got some really old songs and we’ve also gone really modern, so there’s something for everyone. You sit and listen to [a song] and you’ll go “Oh, hang on…I know that!”
Q – So it’s a bit Baz Luhrmann – modern stuff done with an old feel?
Flavia – It is. And it’s all big band, so we’ve taken the song and made it our own.
Q – So what about your dancers? How many of them are there?
Flavia – There’s 18 plus us and we’ve got two actors who help to tell the story. They’re really brilliant and funny – there’s a detective and a Jessica Rabbit type character. We’ve also got two singers who are absolutely incredible and all the other cast members can sing and dance. And then you’ve got Vincent and I playing our characters and doing our thing. There’s a great set and we take you to the Hollywood hills, we go to a pool party, a club….so the set changes and there’s lots to look at. And of course, the costumes help tell the story as well.
Q – So do you spend a lot of time rushing through costume changes?
Flavia – There’s lots of costume changes and everyone’s loving the costumes. They’re 1940s style, so they’re very glamorous. There’s some very quick changes. When we first started it was very manic backstage with things being literally thrown around, but we’ve settled down now and we know where we’re going. So we’re nice and calm on stage, but backstage it’s crazy busy!
Q – So just how glamorous do the outfits get? Are we talking Rita Hayworth in Gilda?
Flavia – Some, yes! We go to a club scene and there’s a Charleston and there’s very glamorous dresses. It’s a real mix, so if we’re in a normal location, we’re in more normal – but still very stylised costumes – and then we do have moments when we go very glamorous.
Q – So can I ask you about Strictly. Who has been the partner who has given you the most satisfaction in terms of how they’ve moved on?
Flavia – That has to be Russell Grant. He’s a very good friend of mine now and we speak at least weekly. To begin with everyone was like, “Oh, he’s not going to do very well” and in actual fact he was brilliant! He’s a real inspiration, not just doing Strictly, but where he’d come from before that . His weight loss before was incredible. And then to take on a challenge like Strictly and so it so well with so much enthusiasm was just delightful. It was so easy and pleasurable to work with him.
Q – He so obviously loved it, didn’t he?
Flavia – He loves it! He still does now. If he could dance very day he would. And that comes across when you’re with him, so it was never hard work. He’s got that natural flair, so he sells every dance he does.
Q – I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but if you could pick anyone in the world to be your partner, who would you choose to partner and teach how to dance?
Flavia (laughing) – It’s really hard! People might think I’d choose someone like Brad Pitt, but you don’t know character-wise whether they like dancing or whether they’re going to be musical. To me the most important thing is the enthusiasm from someone when you’re teaching them and until you meet someone you don’t know if they have that or not. So you could pick someone on looks or whatever, but the most important thing when you’re teaching is that they are really open to learning and they’re enthusiastic and hard-working. That’s where you get the rewards from, really.
Q – Do you think we’ll see you back on Strictly?
Flavia – Possibly. We didn’t do it last year ‘cos we had this big show to put together and Strictly is a 24-hour-a-day commitment and personally I only ever do it if I know I’m committed 110%, and with Dance Til Dawn around the corner we couldn’t commit to both projects. I did Strictly for seven..eight years, which is a long time and I think having won it and having won last year’s Christmas Special (with Rufus Hound), which was amazing, you start to think about new things and new challenges. So I wouldn’t say it would be like taking a step back, but I’m so satisfied with my experience on the show. I’ve lived every possible experience on there, but who knows? We haven’t made any final decisions yet.
Q – So you’re here in Liverpool, have you had much chance to see Liverpool and experience it?
Flavia – I love it up here and the audiences are always great. I love the Empire Theatre, it’s a beautiful theatre and it’s so inspirational. I love Liverpool and my favourite restaurant, San Carlo, is here so I’ll be having my yearly trip there. I’ve got friends in Liverpool, too and it’s really nice cos they’ll be in the audience, too.
Q – I have to ask you about your signature dance, the Argentine tango. When it comes to the music,what would you prefer to dance to – the more traditional, dirty, basic Argentine music or the more modern interpretations?
Flavia – I personally prefer the more traditional. I think you can’t beat the old Astor Piazzolla music. Tango is my favourite music to listen to. I don’t think it’s for everybody. I think some people would find it too dramatic, but it’s very emotional and I love it. I like the old stuff; I do like the more modern stuff as well, but after a while I want to go back to the traditional. That’s the foundation of it. That music really tells a story so it’s easy to choreograph to cos it almost tells you what to do . Traditional tango music has so many highs and lows; it fluctuates – there’s quiet moments and then it goes really fast, so it’s like a script and it’s very emotionally involving.
Dance Til Dawn is on at the Liverpool Empire this week with tickets available from £10 from the Empire’s website