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Strictly Gorka 

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Gorka

Since 2016 Gorka Marquez has become familiar to TV audiences as a professional dancer on the uber-popular Strictly Come Dancing. He’s reached the final twice, and fans can now see him live as he tours the UK with fellow ‘pro-dancer’, Karen Hauer. Their show, Firedance, is described as a celebration of ‘fresh flavours and super-charged choreography’. We gave him a call to find out what to expect.

How and when did you start dancing? 

I was around 11 years old but I have memories of me even younger, always being involved in primary school plays. My mum was part of a parents group association who did activities for the kids at school – dancing, gymnastics, all those kind of things. My mum and dad went to ballroom lessons and I used to go along with them and that’s how I got into ballroom and Latin dance. When I was around sixteen I thought, you know what I want to do this for a career. I was quite good and I was getting good results and I had all the support from my parents. That’s how I started my dance career and dance journey. 

They must be so proud of you. 

They are my biggest fans, I’m very grateful for them.

That’s so sweet. Tell me, how did Firedance come about?

I think it was around 2018 when Karen approached me. We were already doing some weekend shows and the Strictly cruise ships and she said, there’s an opportunity for us to do a show together – would you like to do it? I was like, 100%. So, then we sat down with the producers and we put down our ideas. I think because Karen and I have similar backgrounds (we are both Latinos, we have similar music taste and things like that) it made the whole thing so easy. From day one we clicked on the idea and concept and what we wanted to create, so it was quite easy to put the show together. 

What is it that makes a pairing work?

So, I think it is just good friendship. Karen and I get on so well, we really understand each other. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we know how to make each other better on the stage. We always have a laugh and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are really good friends so that makes everything so much easier when it comes to dance because we have that trust and knowledge of each other. That’s what makes us have that chemistry when we are dancing; we really connect with each other. 

It sounds like it’s going to be spectacular. What are the components of the evening?

For someone who will come to see Firedance, I would say it’s a proper dance show. We wanted to create something different. Like, not what are we going to do in this show – more like, what are we going to do to make this show stand out and make it different to the others. You want to give the audience something different. Our show is a full 90 minutes of dance; there is no talking, we are just telling a story through the dance and the music. We have fire, which no other shows do; a scene with fire on the stage. We are very lucky that we have a six-piece life band preforming live every night with two amazing vocalists. Again, it makes it special because when we are not dancing you see the band performing and you feel like you are at a concert. Whether it’s me and Karen dancing, the rest of the cast dancing, or the female and male vocal singers performing, you feel involved in the story. It’s a great team all together. When we did the casting, we wanted to feel proud of the whole team around us because when we are not on the stage you don’t miss us, you don’t think where are Karen and Gorka? You are involved in the story and the other performers. It is an amazing show, it takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions with the dark numbers, the romantic numbers into the fun upbeat ending numbers. 

Sounds brilliant. You’re coming to Oxford in March and our issue this month is themed around women. I was wondering, what are the great lessons you have learnt from the great women in your life?

To respect women, appreciate women and be grateful. I will always be grateful for women. I think we learn the best lessons from our mothers and I’m very proud of how my mum raised me and what I learnt from her. I will always treat my daughter, Mia, with respect and show her those values to be an amazing, strong, independent woman.

And are you also teaching her to dance?

With Mia I dance a lot. She loves Strictly and pretty much every day she asks me to dance with her which is cute.

What do you dance to at home?

I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston. Mia loves it and has it her own party playlist. We do a disco night almost every night. She has a microphone that she plays music through and we dance every night. 

Sounds like such fun in your house. Finally, what are your plans for the future?

I’m so privileged and proud to be a part of Strictly. I love the show and I would love to be on the show for as long as they want me. I love dancing and I love what we do on the show so as long as they want me to be part of it I will happily come back every year. 

In time, would you think about ‘doing an Anton’ and moving to the judging panel?

Yeah of course! I think everybody would love to do that at some point but at the moment I want to dance for as long as I can. 

Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez bring Firedance to the New Theatre, Oxford on Sunday 5 March firedancelive.co.uk or atgtickets.com

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