Saturday night glitz and glamour is coming our way as two stars of Strictly, Pasha and Katya, waltz their way to Peterborough. Catching up with Pasha for a quick chat before the show heads to the Cresset, it’s fair to say that ESP reporter Sarah Tempest has fallen just a little bit in love…
Since he first fleckled his way onto our TV screens three short years ago, professional dancer Pasha Kovalev has become a firm favourite on Strictly Come Dancing, filling the Strictly sequinned lycra (almost) as beautifully as our beloved local hero Olympian Louis Smith. So far our affections have been restricted to worshipping from afar (and pressing the pause, rewind and replay buttons) but all that is set to change as Pasha brings his touring show, with professional partner Katya Virshilas, to the Cresset on Saturday April 12, giving us here in Peterborough the chance to get up close and personal with his ballroom.
Putting the ‘pash’ into passionate, Pasha is clearly uber excited about the show ‘An Evening with the Stars of Strictly’. “You can expect lots of music, dancing, and lots of sparkles,” he says. “It’s our third tour and this time we’re going bigger and better. Whilst Strictly has Love Week or Rock Week or Hollywood Week, we’ve decided not to go with any specific theme but every dance has a different mood, story, and character, it’s like a carnival, a kaleidoscope of Strictly all packed into one 2 hour show.”
Sounds great, but what about the Q&A session where the audience can ask anything they’ve ever wanted to know about Pasha, Katya and Strictly, surely he must be just a little bit concerned about what Peterborough has a burning desire to ask?! “No!” he laughs, “The questions are always so different but it’s weird; some people want to know what’s your favourite cheese,” (for the record it’s Burrata, a creamy mozzarella like cheese which Pasha highly recommends we try with olives and tomatoes!) “whilst other people just want to ask if you’re married or in a relationship or some people want to know what kind of underwear you wear under your costumes. You just smile and try and answer the question without offending anyone!”
Of course Louis isn’t Peterborough’s only connection with the show; Hayley Sanderson, singer in Strictly’s resident Dave Arch band is another local girl doing the ‘boro proud. “Hayley’s amazing,” says Pasha. “There’s nothing better than to dance to the live band because it gives you extra energy and brings colour to the dance. Sometimes you just dance and think “wow, that’s so great, I never knew the song could sound that good.”
It’s abundantly clear that Pasha has great affection for all three of the Strictly celebrity dance partners he’s had so far; Chelsee Healey, Kimberley Walsh, who’s recently announced her pregnancy and Rachel Riley. “Kimberley’s going to be an amazing mother,” says Pasha. “On the show she was always with her nephew and she was so involved with her family. I’m so happy for her and I congratulated her; she’s over the moon at the moment.”
Pasha himself describes his teaching style as “patience, patience, patience” but diplomatically refuses to be drawn on which celebrity has tested his patience the most so far. “I wouldn’t say somebody did test my patience on Strictly, it’s more patience with yourself in that you have to give them a chance to open up their dance talent and become a good dancer. I’ve been lucky on Strictly because I got three amazing celebrities for my last three seasons. Each one of them was determined to learn.” Is this man just the loveliest ever?! “No” he laughs, “it’s Friday, you just got me on a good day!”
Pasha is also very diplomatic when I try and get him to dish the Strictly goss; “Is there gossip on Strictly? I don’t know!” although he does admit that there’s not always joy at their celebrity pairings – “Let’s just say you can see everything on the faces of the dancers. Some people jump on their celebrities ’cause they’re so happy and some people just kind of have an awkward smile and carry on with the show! I think it’s very clear.”
So what about those outfits he has to wear on Strictly? Whilst we think there should be an ‘always bare chested’ clause in his contract, does he mind getting his top off all the time? “No! I don’t mind! It’s for a good cause so why not?! If you’re dancing a hot Latin dance pretending you’re somewhere in Cuba you would want to feel in character by wearing according costumes so it’s all good. If you get a costume you think doesn’t suit you or the character, you have to stand up and convince the costume department that you would probably look better in something else. We always have say.”
But despite his successes on the show and a huge fan base, Pasha doesn’t know if he’ll be back this year. “I would love to come back to Strictly and from my point I’m ready but it’s a decision for production. They start talking to professionals around June because that’s when they sign up all the celebrities and start pairing them up. It’s nice to have new blood on the show but I would love to come back if I get an invitation.” We can’t help thinking that there would be complete uproar (we’ve already drafted a petition in the ESP offices) if he wasn’t asked back, especially with all the fan support he gets on Twitter, including top Irish chick lit author Marian Keyes. “She’s amazing!” says Pasha, “I met her on several occasions and she’s just the loveliest lady and so funny! She’s cool.”
Fortunately, burning off those extra calories isn’t going to be a problem for the foreseeable future but what’s next for the Siberian hottie when the tour finishes in June? “It’s going to be a gruelling tour, we have over 70 dates around the country so hopefully I will be able to take a month off. I hope I will geta chance to see my family and take my mum somewhere warm and sunny and then around August time, if I’m invited back on Strictly, I’ll be busy again.”
We’ll certainly be keeping everything crossed because if a tight-trousered hottie who loves chocolate and his mum and has no objections to taking his top off in our living rooms every Saturday night is allowed to tango off into the sunset with his P45, the producers at the BBC might just find themselves with a mutiny on their hands.
Tickets for An Evening with the Stars of Strictly are available now from The Cresset box office 01733 265705… see you there!