Ex-Strictly star Brendan Cole is passionate about creating the choreography for his own shows – and latest Show Man in Inverness this week
ABOUT to appear in his latest touring show, ex-Strictly Come Dancing professional Brendan Cole is laughing mischievously when he says: “I’ve been lucky. I’m young, beautiful and at 43 I’ve still got it!”
Watch the trailer for the new show and you couldn’t really disagree as the dancer is very much centre stage in an all-action, vibrant dance show powered by his own choreography, hand-picked dancers and musicians.
It has been two years since the first winner of Strictly left the show after his contract as a professional dancer was not renewed by the BBC, but he has hardly stopped since.
Strictly has given me an incredible platform ... but it’s a new chapter now
He even stepped across the Saturday night TV divide to take part in ITV’s Celebrity X Factor last year, singing with his friend Jeremy Edwards. Now he returns to the live circuit with a more theatrical twist to his latest and fifth stage dance show – Brendan Cole: Show Man. And it’s a matter of pride to him to make each show better than the one before.
“I’ve been touring with my various productions for the last 11 years and if people are paying a lot of money to come and see you, then it is very important to me that they are getting the full package.
“It’s a full-on evening of entertainment – of highs and lows, and of beautiful, high energy and funny moments. It is a very all-encompassing show.”
With New Zealander Brendan having always been one of Strictly’s highest-profile personalities, he also doesn’t downplay the part the series has played in his life, career and affections.
“I was a big part of Strictly for a very long time and it doesn’t just leave you. People come up to you and go ‘You’re from Strictly!’ and you go ‘Yes, I was from Strictly’. And I think probably that as long as I'm in entertainment I will be synonymous with Strictly.
“Strictly has given me an incredible platform. It was where I started and it is very much part of my life, but there is a new chapter now – new exciting times.”
His own style has evolved over the 15 years he took part in Strictly – and beyond.
“When I first started on Strictly in 2004, I was 28 years old, fit as a fiddle and bounding around like Tigger! As you get older your dancing changes and develops, so you don’t need that ridiculous energy. I think that is the exciting thing about dance.
“You can get somebody who is 60 or 65 dancing the most passionate Argentine tango and a sexuality about it which you might not say about a 23-year-old because it takes experience to dance like that.”
Brendan creates his own choreography rather than calling on others – and has done for this show.
“I very much like to choreograph it myself.
“I work with my dancers onstage and I think it is really important that the people you share the stage with are involved in the production side of things and involved in how the show comes together.
“You want them to connect with it and to be excited about being in it. I have done so many different things where other people have choreographed for me and you don’t have that same involvement or that same love of what you do on the stage. You enjoy it – and it’s great to be on the stage.
“But I want people to actually connect. I work with them too, but ultimately it is my choreography and I have the final say.
“I am very passionate about the choreography.”
Where will a piece start for Brendan – from working with the dancers in the studio or an idea that might come to him?
“It is a bit of both, you start with the music that you have chosen for any particular production and you have ideas forming from that of how you see it.
“Quite often when I am driving along in the car I will just put the music on repeat and play it over and over and things just come to me.
“One dance in this show is to the song Send In The Clowns, I just visualised my female dancer Crystal Main walk on and sit down on the stage and be emotionally taken away, two clowns come in and dance with her, then I come in – and I’m the figment of her imagination.”
Though he started out best-known for Latin American, Brendan’s own favourite dance genre is ballroom: “There is an elegance and a beauty to it, and I love a waltz, not done to a traditional piece of waltz music with a very strong 1,2,3 feel, but with much more of a soft, ethereal feel – if you get the right piece of music. In this show Send In The Clowns, is a version of a waltz, not a strict tempo waltz. It’s the most beautiful story. For my partner, I am an almost imaginary figure in her head. She has fallen in love, she wants to be with me, but she can’t quite.
“It’s the kind of story where an audience will sit and watch you and they are almost mesmerised by what they are seeing.
“You can dance a big samba or a jive, or something really energetic like a quickstep. But when you touch an audience with a big, emotional piece – where they are almost welling up with a tear – if it strikes the right chord, I love that.”
Brendan Cole: Show Man comes to Eden Court on Wednesday, March 4.