Making a song and dance out of life

    Two of Strictly Come Dancing’s biggest stars, Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, are coming to sashay, samba and salsa their way into the Assembly Hall on Saturday with their new show Somewhere in Time. Here, Eileen Leahy talks to Ian and finds out what the audience has in store on this special night

    STRICTLY IN STEP Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe

    Are you looking forward to bringing your new show to Tunbridge Wells?

    We’re very excited, and Natalie and I are really happy to be touring together again. We did our first one, An Audience with Ian and Natalie, last year which was very well received and sold out in most places. On the strength of that we decided to go do another one. This time round it’s going to be a bit of a marathon as we’re doing 68 shows over the next three months. Tunbridge Wells will be our second one so we’ll be very fresh!

    Do you like touring?

    Yes, we’ve toured a lot with the Strictly Come Dancing arena shows, but it’s a nice feeling when you’re actually doing it for yourself and it’s your name headlining. Although both Natalie and I gave the Strictly shows 100 per cent, this show is a very personal thing. It’s very intimate, which is why we’ve deliberately gone for smaller venues.

    Can you tell us a little bit about Somewhere in Time?

    It’s just me and Natalie, and we’re dancing and presenting throughout, going through different eras, genres and telling stories. We’ve created our own new choreography and have two singers who’ll be performing while we’re on stage. When the focus is just on you it makes it harder as we don’t have any additional dancers filling in, so we have to give it 100 per cent for every performance. But although it’s tougher it’s also very satisfying as we know that every performance matters.

    What kind of dance content are you including?

    It’s a collection of our favourite routines: Argentine Tango, an amazing Charleston and an American Smooth mixed with a Foxtrot which opens the second half and promises to be sensational.

    What can the audience expect from the show?

    To interact with us quite a lot! In some parts, Natalie and I will get some people up on stage and get them singing and doing all sorts of things, including a fun game… If you think you’re just going to sit back and watch dancing for two hours, you’re in for a surprise! We like to get people involved and see their reaction to things.

    Have you and Natalie always danced together?

    Strictly put the two of us together about nine years ago and our partnership just works. Natalie is quite long-limbed and that suits me, as I’m 6ft 4in. We’re also very similar dancers – emotive and dramatic, and we get on very well, too. I was recently in Barbados on holiday while Natalie was holidaying in Antigua with her fiancé, and they surprised me with a special visit on my birthday. We spent a wonderful day on a boat snorkelling with turtles, so yes, we get on very well and try to socialise with one another.

    How long have you spent rehearsing for Somewhere in Time?

    Natalie and I have been doing it pretty much on a daily basis for the past month, and we’ve just done a fortnight’s rehearsal with our singers and all the tech guys. By the end of that everything was pretty much secure and we now have a show, it’s exciting.

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

    Music – if it moves me it’ll result in a great piece of choreography. In terms of dancers, I’m particularly inspired by the likes of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. I was very much brought up watching those guys with my grandmother. It’s funny because when I was competing I was known primarily as a Latin American dancer, but I really love the nostalgia of the 1920s and 40s, and our new show’s title certainly reflects that. It covers different eras and is full of nostalgia and audiences will definitely note that.

    What do you think lies behind the perennial success of Strictly Come Dancing?

    It’s moved with the times and uses a lot of modern music now. We also have a massive variety of celebrities, which also broadens the appeal. And whether the performance is bad or good, it captures the audience’s imagination. Look at Ed Balls [former Shadow Chancellor] for instance: It took him completely out of his comfort zone, but to see him do those amazing dances was just brilliant. It’s much more than a dancing show and it can be brutally honest sometimes, but it’s also got old-fashioned roots in ballroom, and I think people like that as they can hark back to those nostalgic days.

    It sounds very much like Somewhere in Time – what do you hope the audience will come away feeling after the show?

    I hope it will touch people and they’ll feel like they’ve had an experience. It would be lovely if in years to come people thought ‘Oh, remember seeing Ian and Natalie in that show all those years ago?’ We want to make an impression on people’s hearts.

    Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe will be dancing in Somewhere in Time at the Assembly Hall on Saturday March 11 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost from £24. For more information, visit www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk