Dance duo Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have thrilled audiences with sizzling Tango routines on Strictly Come Dancing, been crowned World Argentine Tango Champions, and created and starred in their own Olivier Award nominated West End productions.
Georgina Butler had a sneaky peek at rehearsals for their third, and final, theatre show The Last Tango before quizzing the passionate pair about their dancing destinies.
It takes two to Tango but Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are hoping that the number three will prove to be lucky for them this year. After enjoying sensational success with their previous two sell-out shows Midnight Tango and Dance ‘Til Dawn, the Italian dancers are looking forward to completing a trilogy with their most engaging production yet.
On Thursday 17th September, they will begin a 32-week farewell tour of the brand new show, aptly named The Last Tango. Vincent and Flavia are bidding a fond farewell to the world of theatre by giving fans in cities nationwide their last ever chance to see the well-loved partnership perform live in a full-length work. Audiences should expect captivating choreography accompanied by superb singing and marvellous musicians as Vincent and Flavia will be joined by a strong supporting cast of talented performers.
Rehearsals were coming along very nicely indeed when I was invited to preview some routines earlier this month.
Read on to discover what the stars themselves had to say about dancing, The Last Tango and the future.
Is The Last Tango – production number three – really going to be your last show?
Flavia Cacace: We kind of thought it is a trilogy. We can’t do eight shows a week forever and ever because as much as we love it to death and feel very, very lucky to be doing it, it’s very exhausting. It would be great to think that maybe if this show does really, really well we could have a break and then do another tour of the same show.
Vincent Simone: Or maybe go to the West End if we do well enough!
Flavia Cacace: But I think that creating a fourth one would probably break us!
Vincent Simone: We don’t want to push our luck but our great fans, they keep coming back. I’m so proud – we’re so proud – because every time we worry about whether the next show is going to be as good and I think that every time we have proven ourselves. I think The Last Tango is going to be fabulous.
Go on, what do you have waiting in the wings for us?
Flavia Cacace: We wanted to come back with a little more of a Tango feel but still show our other styles. And we always wanted to keep the story within the dance because we have got that now and we didn’t want to go back to just dancing.
Vincent Simone: At the beginning, we had to get trained to act. Even just to go and pick up a glass of water because as dancers, pure dancers, we hear the music and we want to dance to it!
Flavia Cacace: Yes, we would do rhumba walks towards the glass and Karen would say “just walk”, “be normal” and we’d say “I am normal, this is me normal”!
Vincent Simone: Staying still as well, we couldn’t stay still! But now I love it, all the acting.
Flavia Cacace: We are much more comfortable now with it. It has taken us three shows!
Vincent Simone: We have so much acting in this new show.
Flavia Cacace: Actually, we didn’t think about it when we started to put this one together, but I do think we have more acting in The Last Tango than we have had in the previous two shows because there is a definite through line to follow.
So the show is very much driven by the narrative? Will things get emotional?
Flavia Cacace: Yes, it’s very emotional.
Vincent Simone: It has got so much heart in it. I mean we were just sitting down and talking about it and we were in tears. Then we do a little scene with a little music and tears again. So it is lovely because it is going to be our last theatre show and the story itself is so relatable.
Flavia Cacace: And we have Teddy [Kempner] as well who has been with us all the way through. He is kind of our lucky mascot. He is so expressive and the combination of him acting and telling the story and the music choices that we have. Bring tissues basically!
Vincent Simone: Not all the time! There are passionate moments; there are happy moments; funny moments. But it’s just we love being sad in a way, those are the best moments for us!
Is there a magic formula that keeps audiences coming back to see your shows?
Flavia Cacace: We are lucky enough to have kept the same family. We have been working with Adam [Spiegel] now for all our shows so we have had the same producer. Karen Bruce [choreographer and director] we’ve had all the way through too. Teddy too, our lucky mascot. The same set designer; the same lighting team; the same costume people.
Each time it has been successful so we have thought why change that?! Somehow we work. Together the combination of all of us works and it has worked twice already so fingers crossed that we can make it work a third time!
Vincent Simone: But hopefully, what me and Flavia give every time we perform is emotion. I think that is probably why people keep coming back.
What is it that draws you both to the Tango?
Flavia Cacace: For me it is the music. Musicians are amazing and the instruments they use are incredible. I think most people like the Tango because they can feel something from the music.
Vincent Simone: Yes the music. I could easily cry, get goosebumps. The music tells the story itself.
Will The Last Tango feature any special new moves or improvisation?
Vincent Simone: Every time we choreograph and dance in these shows we try to push ourselves. In ‘The Last Tango’ there is a lot of variety of dancing but we finish off with a super Tango! Really, it is so challenging, once you hear the music you think it is impossible!
Flavia Cacace: We finish on the floor! It is almost unchoreographable! Is that a word?!
Vincent Simone: It is all choreographed though. It is the timing that may change as it is led by me. I make sure Flavia looks good!
Flavia Cacace: It is the same for Ballroom actually, every choreographed piece, the same rule applies: the man leads, the lady follows. Both roles are as difficult as each other. It is very difficult to lead and very difficult to follow and we spend years and years as ballroom and Latin dancers learning those skills. And in Tango it is exactly the same.
Vincent Simone: Following and leading and making two people become one. That is hard.
Flavia Cacace: It is hard. I mean we teach and in this show actually, the cast have been learning little bits of Ballroom and Latin, Tango and all sorts of different things and it is fascinating how the technique is different. We have trouble with things that they naturally do very easily – the solo dancing and the jumps and the leaps – and then when we try to teach one of our figures they find it quite hard. So we’ve been kind of swapping techniques, still learning, which is good!
Do you have any advice for aspiring dancers? What is the best advice you have ever received?
Vincent Simone: You can learn from everyone. You don’t need “the best” dance teacher. We have been to the world championships and still we are never going to stop learning and developing.
Flavia Cacace: Yes, definitely everyone has got something to teach. And the main thing is to dance from the heart. I remember someone telling me that.
Vincent Simone: But the Tango, I have to say, the Argentine Tango is the thing that helped us the most because you really have to listen to the music. You are improvising. You and your woman, you are almost feeling each other’s heartbeat, and you get the music and that is it, whereas in the previous Ballroom and Latin world it was right, now how exactly am I going to do this.
Flavia Cacace: Yes, I think in competitive dancing you get so bogged down with technique. You need your technique first so you have a strong base. Technique helps you endlessly, it gives you the fundamentals to be able to do all sorts of things and then you can let go and really feel and perform. But you have to get to that point.
What will you miss the most about theatre and touring?
Flavia Cacace: I think theatre is perfect for dance. I think that with the atmosphere that you have in a theatre it just intensifies the dance. That moment when you stand on the stage and you have got the audience right there it just gives you that buzz and I don’t know what it is about theatres but you can actually feel their energy.
I think I’ll probably miss everything about it, really. I mean, performing onstage within a show is a really unique experience. I think we are really privileged to have had the opportunity of doing three shows.
Vincent Simone: But we have done it! We’ve done theatre and we have done TV with Strictly so let’s see what comes next. It would be lovely to have a new project. My dream would be to make a film. I think it is about time we had a proper Tango film. Even if we are not involved, if, I don’t know, Brad Pitt and Angelina are the stars – we could be teaching them. I could be the cleaner in the background. Just to be part of a new project would be lovely.
How have all of your fans been reacting? We are so upset that The Last Tango is your farewell.
Flavia Cacace: We are not going; we are not disappearing!
Vincent Simone: In the past we’ve had people crying at the stage door saying “you were not on the television on Saturday night”. We have been missed on Strictly but we couldn’t be in two places at once and it felt right to be dancing together doing this.
Flavia Cacace: Now people are worried about us not performing again at all onstage. So now it’s even more tragic! But we will obviously be doing lots of things. Just a lot less travelling. Otherwise, we want to be dancing for as long as possible!
Vincent Simone: We are putting the suitcase away, not hanging up the shoes!
Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace’s farewell production The Last Tango opens at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre today (Thursday 17 September 2015) and will tour nationwide until Saturday 16 July 2016.
The Last Tango visits Milton Keynes Theatre from Monday 23 to Saturday 28 November 2015.
Update 24 November 2015: Read my review of The Last Tango.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.