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What's On, Culture, Theatre

Firedance At New Theatre Oxford

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Back on our screens and soon to be Back Live On Stage! Strictly Come Dancing’s Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez are finally able to bring their Latin spectacular FIREDANCE to New Theatre Oxford on Sat 19 Mar 2022.

How did Firedance come about?

Gorka: Karen is Venezuelan, and I am Spanish, so we both come from a similar culture and have similar personalities, so we have always got on really well and connected with each other when we dance, so we were really keen to do our own show together. I completely trust her, and I think she trusts me just as much.

Karen: There’s very few times in your life that you find another artist that you connect to on a level that Gorka and I have. We work perfectly as a partnership both on and off the stage. We have the same ideas, the same flows, the same energy and I love the way that he interprets things, which I learn a lot from. He’s from Spain and I’m from Venezuela, so we both have that fire and heat within us, which I think is what makes us exciting to see onstage together. It’s quite an explosive partnership that we have, but it’s very tender too. He’s like a brother to me, so the fact I get to share the stage with him is something I’m so grateful for.

What can you tell us about the show itself?

Karen: Gorka and I got together a couple of years ago after working on Strictly for a while before that, as we thought it would be a good idea to team up and do something new and exciting. Firedance is something that we are both really passionate about, because it has all the dances that people love and we know that people will gravitate to quickly, like the tangos, the salsas, the paso dobles and so on. All those fiery dances that have a lot of heart and a lot of heat behind them!

Gorka: There’s zero chit-chat in it too, so it’s 90 minutes of pure intense dancing that I know people will love. You won’t see us getting on the mike and talking about ourselves or anything like that. It’s dance show, not a musical or an interview. There’s a very light storyline though, which is told purely through the choreography and music. It’s about two lovers and it has a Carmen/West Side Story feel to it, but it’s all told through dance and the better you dance, the better people can understand the story. We’re communicating with our bodies. The passion that we have for what we do is already in us, so to be able to put that onstage, exactly the way we want it, is really amazing.

Karen: We didn’t want to press pause at any point, so once the show starts, it just goes. We are feeding you dance 100% at 100 miles an hour. For me that’s beautiful, as that’s what we love to do, just express ourselves through our dancing, so we can tell the story without having to touch the microphone once.

It sounds like Firedance is giving you the opportunity to throw off the constraints of the ballroom and just cut loose?

Karen: Absolutely. Nothing is holding us back when it comes to choreography, themes or just what we feel comfortable with as professional dancers. We’re putting it all on the stage. We have some amazing vocalists, a really cool band and lots of big stage effects, so it’s not your usual Strictly-type show. It’s a bit more stripped back, but with the same qualities, agilities and top-notch dancing. Both Gorka and I feel we are at the top of our game now, so the choreography is slick, but heartfelt as well.

Gorka: As much as we love doing Strictly and other shows, Firedance is our baby, so it lets us do exactly what we want, in whatever way we want. We are free to express ourselves in ways we have never been able to before.

Of course, Firedance isn’t just about the dancing, as it has a huge production with no small amount of actual fire on the stage with you?

Karen: As well as the dancers, we have firebreathers too, which I love. The fact we are able to mix dance and fire is incredible. I know it sounds dangerous, but when you come and see it, the force behind it is quite spectacular. It feels a little like Cirque De Soleil, as it has that little hint of danger behind it. That adds another bit of magic to it for me. It gets really hot when we’re up there, though! I’ve never been so aware of my surroundings than I am on this production. As a dancer you are always aware of everything around you onstage, but for this you have to be 200% aware! It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced onstage. It’s not something we would normally do, but it really makes sense with the production and the story, it’s not there just for show.

How much of a benefit has it been having Strictly as a platform to spring off?

Gorka: Being on Strictly has been like a dream come true. I think if you asked any of the professionals working on it, everyone would agree that it has changed our lives for the better. Without Strictly, we wouldn’t be able to be doing anything that we are doing now, as it opens so many doors. I doubt I’d be doing Firedance with Karen without it for a start. I owe it so much, so I’m so grateful for everything that it has given me, not just professionally, but in my personal life too. I met my partner and started a family by being on the show, so I couldn’t be more grateful to be involved with it.

Karen, with Anton now a judge, that makes you the longest serving professional dancer doesn’t it? How does that feel?

Karen: Now that Anton is a judge, he’s left the reigns to me! Every year I go in there though, I just don’t know what to expect, which is really refreshing and why I think I’ve stayed there for the last ten years. I have no expectations, I just love what I do, I love teaching people and seeing their development. Just being part of a show that makes people feel good is wonderful. So many people love Strictly as it’s a feel-good show, there’s no sadness about it, just sheer positive emotion. What better way to spend a Saturday night with your family than watching a dancing show that you can all discuss and engage with?

The original Firedance tour was stopped after only a few shows when the pandemic kicked in back in 2020. That must have been tough after you all put so much work into getting it out there?

Karen: It was heart-breaking, it really was. Obviously it wasn’t just our show that went down, it was everyone’s. All our lives and careers came to a sudden halt across the world. Naturally, we understood, and it was the right thing to do, but after putting so much planning and work into getting it to the stage, to be stopped so soon after it was really hard. To be honest though, it just makes being able to finally do it properly all the more exciting and a joy for all of us.

Gorka: The one good thing that came from it was that we knew we had a show that worked, but had only been seen five times. It was like having five full audience dress rehearsals, so we could tweak certain numbers or replace some with new ones. That’s a luxury you never get normally, so it was a terrible disappointment to have it all come to a halt, but we made the best of it by listening to all the feedback we had received on the shows we did get to do and making the whole thing even better.

Do you have any plans or ideas for where you would like to see Firedance going in the future?

Gorka: There’s so many things I want to do, but at the moment, the main thing is I just want Firedance to become huge. Just for it to get bigger and better all the time. My Mum, Dad and the rest of my family all live in Spain, where there are no successful ballroom or Latin shows. There’s a culture of competition, but not show-wise. So, for me, I would love to be able to take our show over to Spain, even for just two or three nights. Taking it to Las Vegas would be nice too!

Get tickets here: www.atgtickets.com

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