Strictly Curse 'sends celebrities mad', Flavia Cacace says
Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Flavia Cacace has spoken about the "Strictly Curse", saying "it sends the celebrities mad".
The Italian-born dancer, who won Strictly in 2012 with gymnast Louis Smith, said that people "can't handle all that physical closeness".
"They fall in love with this dream, this fantasy. Our job is to make them feel the centre of attention. It's very addictive and it goes to some people's heads," she told The Sunday Telegraph.
Over the years, the ''Strictly Curse'' has seen marriages and relationships ruined when celebrities fall for their professional dance partners.
Cacace, 36, spoke openly about falling prey to the curse herself in 2007 when she became involved with her celebrity partner, former EastEnders star Matt Di Angelo. The couple went on to date for three years.
She had previously been romantically involved with Strictly professional Vincent Simone, who was her partner on and off screen.
She told the paper: "Yes, it was a disaster. It all happened in the most atrocious way. My relationship with Matt was really hyped up, which was very painful for Vincent.
"But, you have to understand, everything in my life had been about dance. I'd lived in a bubble.
"I was 27 when I started on Strictly and that was nine years ago. I had never been to London on my own. I had never been on an aeroplane. I had danced with Vincent since I was 14."
In 2013, she married actor Jimi Mistry, who she partnered on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010.
She and Simone announced they were leaving Strictly in 2013 and are currently touring together with their stage show, The Last Tango.
"They are not just dance shows. They have acting in them and they tell a story," she explained.
The pair have announced this will be their last tour but Cacace says despite all they have been through, they remain the best of friends.
She said: "It wasn't easy. There was a point at which he probably wanted to tell me to sling my hook. I certainly wanted to tell him to get out of my life for a while.
"It is so hard for people to understand this. I know it was upsetting for Vincent, and humiliating. He is very competitive.
"He would hate me to tell you this but he was so angry I'd won the Glitterball and he hadn't.
"Yet we got over me going off with Matt, somehow. The dancing takes over for both of us and we are the best of friends."
Cacace said she has no plans to watch the new series of Strictly, which starts next Friday.
She said: "It's changed. I am not sure people are nice to each other any more. I know it's a competition but I think the relationships between the professional dancers are not as ... harmonious as they used to be."