Brendan Cole: Strictly was a highlight, but these shows are my greatest achievement
Brendan Cole: A quick read with someone in the public eye
The New Zealand-born star of Strictly Come Dancing will be setting the stage alight in Belfast when his latest tour touches down next weekend. He is married to model Zoe Hobbs, with whom he has a daughter, Aurelia (2) .
Q: What can the audience expect from your new tour, A Night To Remember?
A: I like to think everything! It's probably best described as 'An Evening With' style show, full of live music from a phenomenal 14-piece band who are on stage with us, Latin and Ballroom dances from my superb eight-strong dance cast and some chat thrown in for good measure. It's a real variety-type show with all you'd expect to see on Strictly but more intimate as it's geared for a live audience. We have all of the dances you'd expect, Argentine Tango, Salsa, some beautiful Waltzes, Charleston, Quicksteps ... they're all there. I host the show and perform throughout.
Q: What's the best thing about touring and what do you look forward to most?
A: To me, the excitement of performing and having a reaction from a crowd is what I love best. I love looking out at the audience just before the show starts and seeing people's anticipation of what they are about to see and then again at the end to see their reaction. To see people smiling and discussing what they have just been a part of is so satisfying.
Q: Was it your ambition to become a dancer?
A: No, not growing up but, as you get older, opportunities present themselves and you make the decisions that are best for you at the time. I believe you create opportunities and it's whether or not you choose to take them which defines your path. I could have very easily stayed in New Zealand and created my life there but my dreams were bigger than that.
I didn't know that it would be dance necessarily, I just knew I wanted more.
Q: You won the first series of Strictly Come Dancing alongside Natasha Kaplinsky. Was this your greatest achievement in dance?
A: Thank you for remembering! No, not my greatest achievement although certainly a highlight. My greatest achievements in dance are definitely my shows. They are not put on by a production company with me just coming in to headline, they are mine from start to finish creatively. I'm extremely proud of what my cast and I achieve. I've had some magical moments on Strictly. Last year with Sophie Ellis-Bextor I did some of my finest work and, in my opinion, making the final was a bigger achievement than winning. I was also ranked in the top 12 of the world competitively pre-Strictly, which I am immensely proud of.
Q: How do you begin to create the concept for your show?
A: It's a massive process. Myself, my musical director Barry Robinson and my wife, Zoe, started throwing music ideas around while we were producing my show last year. As music choices begin to take shape, I start planning the running order and the logistics of getting on and off stage, costume changes etc. During this time, I start to think about my cast and who I would like to have join me while Barry does the same with our musicians. This year Fauve Hautot is back as my leading lady - she is amazing.
Q: Did you enjoy being judge of Dancing with the Stars when you were in New Zealand?
A: I loved the role as judge, you never get voted off and you only work one day a week. I love that I'm a dancer on the show here but it's been fantastic to experience both sides.
Q: It must be difficult being away from your family while on tour. How do you concentrate on the job?
A: It's definitely hard but that's part of the job and Zoe is very supportive. Strictly is more challenging, being six and seven days a week for more than four months of the year. My tour only lasts a couple of months and I make sure I schedule two days off each week to spend with the family. I also ensure the cast have time for their bodies to recover as it's a full-on show.
Q: Do you have any pre-stage rituals?
A: Not too many. I generally try to get my adrenaline going, which isn't hard when you have an excited audience ready to be entertained. I shake my legs as fast as I can and get myself pumped up, try to contain my excited grin and burst out!
Q: What do you hope the audience will take away from your show?
A: What I want is for them to be entertained from start to finish and to leave with a smile on their face. Hopefully they'll feel they have met the real me, a slightly cheeky, pretty normal fella, and feel excited from having seen some magic on stage!
Q: How do you plan on kicking back once the show is over?
A: Holiday! Sea, sun and lots of time with my beautiful family! The hardest thing is being away from them for long periods of a time, especially my two-year-old daughter Aurelia.