Show's a more strictly intimate dancing affair
I T might be another few months before they battle it out for the coveted glitter ball trophy but the professionals from Strictly Come Dancing will be performing in the spotlight in Bristol this week.
For the first time the 15-piece Strictly band, led by musical director Dave Arch, will be taking to the road and touring along with Kristina, Robin and former Strictly champions, and real life couple, Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev.
Robin, whose former celebrity partners include Patsy Kensit and Anita Dobson, says: "I don't think the singers get enough credit for what they do and I feel very privileged to be part of this tour."
For the show, the band and live singers will play for the foursome to perform paired and group dances ranging from foxtrots to sambas – an idea that has taken Kristina, Robin, Artem and Kara several months to prepare for.
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"The four of us are great friends," Kristina says excitedly in her instantly recognisable singsong Russian accent. "We've been wanting to do something together for a long time and it came to a point when it was right to do the show."
The pair have both toured with the live Strictly show but say this will give audiences more of an opportunity to get close to the performance and see what the dancers can do.
Kristina says: "This has a different feel to Strictly... because there are no judges and no competition. It's very theatrical and very different. It's great to see the Strictly champions dancing again and it feels a lot more intimate."
"There is a real mix of music in there too," Robin adds. "Lots of different arrangements that will appeal to all ages. We want everyone who comes to enjoy themselves and if they enjoy music and dancing then we think they will.
"We're playing smaller venues than the big arenas the Strictly tour plays and we think it gives the audience the chance to get up close and personal – they see a lot more."
In between the weeks Strictly Come Dancing is broadcast on our television screens the duo, who were paired to dance together last year, say their lives revolve around dancing.
Robin says: "As soon as the TV programme finishes we go off on the tour, then we do lots of corporate stuff and now things like this show. We live and breathe Strictly all year round."
While Robin and Kristina, whose former celebrity dancing partners include John Sergeant, Joe Calzaghe, Goldie and Jason Donovan, have never been crowned Strictly champions, they are full of praise for 2010 winner Kara and other celebrities on the show.
Kristina says: "Robin, Artem and myself have worked together many times, especially for the group dances on the show, and it is a real pleasure to be working with Kara. We've been able to choreograph something that we feel is really spectacular.
"Kara is fantastic and probably the best female celebrity dancer we have ever had on the show. She's a lovely girl too.
"I think all the celebrities deserve a medal for what they do – it is a very tough show. I've been continually surprised when people come on the show with no experience and then go on to win."
Kristina was born and grew up in Vladivostok, Russia, but later moved to the United States to improve her career prospects.
She has won several awards for her dancing including first place in the South African International Latin Championship, and a finalist in the US National American Rhythm Finals, as well as world Mambo Championship and Blackpool Dance Festival.
She says: "I don't think I ever wanted to do anything but dance. There was nothing else in my mind that I was going to do. I love doing it and I feel good doing it. I started dancing, that led to teaching and now this. I am living my dream."
It is a similar story for Robin who grew up in Ipswich and has represented England in dancing championships. He has been dancing since he was three when his parents took him to the Ipswich School of Dancing.
He says: "When someone puts music on and I dance to it all of the bad things in the world disappear. I love dancing, I feel I was born to dance and I can express how I feel through dance."
Dance To The Music plays Colston Hall on Thursday, June 14, at 7pm. Tickets cost £19.50-£45.00. Tel 0117 922 3686.