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INTERVIEW: Strictly Come Dancing star Pasha Kovalev

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: March 18, 2014

Pasha Kovalev and Katya Virshilas

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HE’S wowed Strictly Come Dancing viewers for three seasons and now one of the dance world’s favourite Russians is heading off to tour the UK.

But Pasha Kovalev isn’t going it alone though, he’s on the road with ex-Strictly professional Katya Virshilas with a show which promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

“We started work on the programme a few weeks ago, working out the choreography and music,” said the Siberian-born dancer.

“In fact we are responsible for everything from the lighting designs to organising the transport between venues.

“Katya and I are totally in charge and that is probably my favourite part. We are free to do whatever we want – we are going wild this year.”

The show kicks off in Camberley and will visit Lichfield Garrick on April 2, Solihull Arts Complex on May 23, Palace Theatre in Mansfield on June 13, The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on June 14 and The Prince of Wales Centre in Cannock on June 27.

This year’s tour will be very different to the previous two and will include new music and choreography.

“And there is a completely different theme,” said Pasha.

“We do keep some things the same. The ones which are very popular with the audience including a question and answer session where people can ask us anything.

“We will also be bringing some budding dancers out of the audience and onto the stage to see how they do and then they will be judged on their performance.

“Katya and I love the audience participation and so do the audience.

“I am keeping it a secret as to what the audience will have to do this year – last year they had to discover their Latin and Spanish roots in the paso doble.”

However, it’s not just the audience who are encouraged to join Pasha and Katya on stage, at each show they invite youngsters from a local dance school to come along and showcase their talent.

“It’s so interesting what they come up with,” said Pasha.

“They are really creative and everyone enjoys watching the youngsters and how good they are at such an early age.”

Born in Sibera, the 34-year-old started dancing at age eight. In 2001 Pasha moved to the United States with his professional dance partner Anya Garnis before joining Strictly Come Dancing in 2011.

Pasha is used to being on the road performing as earlier this year he joined the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour.

“You’re a bit like a gipsy with your suitcase performing in lots of theatres,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet people who are fans of Strictly and dancing in general.

“It’s amazing how many people watch Strictly but any art form is designed to be seen live – to get the energy and have the interaction with the audience.

During his time with Strictly – he has reached two finals – Pasha has become a firm favourite among fans.

In his first season he was partnered with Waterloo Road actress Chelsee Healey and with her made it all the way to the finals, finishing as runners-up to drummer Harry Judd and his partner Aliona Vilani.

A year later he was paired up with Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh. Again he made it all the way to the finals, this time losing out to gymnast Lewis Smith and his partner Flavia Cacace. By coming second, Pasha became the first male professional dancer to reach two consecutive Strictly finals.

“A lot of people see Strictly as a competition but the competition is really against yourself,” he says.

“You have to teach your celebrity partner the art of ballroom dancing in the shortest possible time. Every week is a blank page.

“You have to work to your partner’s strengths and have to be creative bringing different aspects into the dance may it be comedy or acting – or both.

“With every celebrity on the show I have always had a memorable dance with them.

“With Chelsee it was the amazing Shrek dance. It took 45 minutes to ‘put my face on’ – the ears and everything. I also loved the quick step where Chelsee was a flight attendant and I was waiting for a plane.

“With Kimberley, we had an amazing Charleston and our tango was really dramatic.”

Last year Pasha was partnered with Countdown’s Rachel Riley and many fans believed they left the competition before their time – bowing out in week six.

“With Rachel it was our last dance which was my favourite. She was dressed as a ghost and we danced the Viennese Waltz,” said Pasha.

“It was the first time she got rid of her fear of dancing and I feel that was our little victory.

Once Pasha has finished this tour he will be heading home to visit his family and then off for a well-earned break.

“I will definitely need to go somewhere warm with plenty of sunshine and do nothing for a couple of weeks,” he said

“I always try to go somewhere I haven’t been before and summer is the only time I can see my mum and take her away on holiday.

“It’s really cold in Siberia and when I call my brother he tells me he’s going snowboarding and it’s minus 35!”

And perhaps there will be a holiday romance on the cards for our dashing Russian who admits he is single.

“It comes with the territory.”

For further information about the tour log on to www.katyaandpasha.com

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