AS he brings his brand new dance show to the Edinburgh Playhouse tomorrow, fleet-footed dancer Vincent Simone is busier than ever. So busy, it seems, he’s completely forgotten about today’s chat with the Evening News.
“Interview? he shrieks when he discovers who’s calling. “Today? Now? On the telephone?”
The situation is explained and it’s no problemo. “We do interview right now, on the telephone,” he says in a thick Italian accent.
The 5ft 6in Simone has a larger-than-life personality. But that’s probably not news to fans of Strictly Come Dancing, the hugely popular BBC1 ballroom dancing show on which he stole the hearts of the British public alongside long-time professional partner Flavia Cacace.
After wowing audiences with their previous production, Midnight Tango, the duo are back touring with Dance ‘Til Dawn, a sensational dance show straight from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
“There’s a really nice story to it,” explains Foggia-born Simone. “There’s kind of a love story running in the background.”
The former world dance champions toured Midnight Tango for three years, playing to sell-out audiences. But 35-year-old Simone says the pair didn’t want to create something that would be compared too closely to their last show, which was set in a late-night bar in downtown Buenos Aires.
“We had massive success with Midnight Tango, but we wanted to come back with a brand new show - something completely different.
“Of course there’s a bit of tango – that’s what we’re famous for – but also there’s also loads of other styles.
“Flavia and I are trained to do ballroom Latin, but there’s also American swing, the Charleston, the rumba, the paso doble. So we’ve got more styles, but also we’ve got a group of dancers from musical theatre who are spectacular.
“We also have amazing singers, a great live band and a narrator, because there’s an intricate story.”
So far, audiences are loving Dance ‘Til Dawn, which is essentially a comedy-thriller with a murder plot, set in 1940s Hollywood.
“People are leaving the theatre with a smile,” says Simone. “We’ve had loads of standing ovations. People have just been loving the show, which is just what we wanted.
“When we decided to do something after Midnight Tango, we said, ‘right, we have to push the boundaries, and it has to be very different’. I think we have achieved that.”
Simone and Cacace, who have been dancing together professionally for 18 years, featured on Strictly for seven years before quitting the show in 2013. But he insists the time was right for them to bow out.
“During my time on the show I had with every kind of celebrity you can get... the tall one, the small one, the chubby one, the slim one, the young one... so I needed a rest.
“Obviously, I love to do what I do best – and that is dancing properly, with Flavia.
During his time on Strictly, Simone was paired with several dance partners – including pop singer Rachel Stevens, actresses Louisa Lytton, Natalie Cassidy and Felicity Kendal, and former Tory MP Edwina Currie. But did he have a favourite?
“Probably Rachel Stevens,” he says after a moment’s thought. “I nearly won the trophy that year, so that was the best experience.”
Talking of experiences, Simone was abandoned in the Australian jungle last year when he took part in the ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here. He calls it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.
“It was a great opportunity because I had never done anything on my own before. But I wanted to prove myself. I wanted to push myself to do something I will never do again... well, hopefully!
“Mostly, it was amazing... well, apart from obviously the lack of food, which is not easy for an Italian!”
• Dance ‘Til Dawn, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, tomorrow until Saturday, 7.30pm £15-£45, 0844 871 3014