I think it’s fair to say that our love of all things dance is pretty much up there with anything we see on stage or TV now. With a plethora of dance shows on the box and live tours up and down the country, we just can’t get enough of them.

Now, fresh from wowing audiences and critics alike at the London Palladium, HERE COME THE BOYS is heading our way.

With dance superstars GRAZIANO DI PRIMA, NADIYA BYCHKOVA, NIKITA KUZMIN, PASHA KOVALEV and Strictly finalist KARIM ZEROUAL, this – “BIG, SPANGLED, ENERGETIC, NON-STOP DANCE SPECTACULAR” (The Stage) is out on the road, stopping off at St David’s Hall in Cardiff next month.

With rehearsals well underway, we grabbed the boys (and girl) and had a chat about the show, weddings, family life and the joy of being back out on the road.

HERE COME THE BOYS – TOUR TRAILER

If Graziano Di Prima had any doubts as to the regard in which he’s held as a dancer, the schedule for the upcoming nationwide tour of Here Come The Boys should have given his confidence a further boost.

On July 9th Graziano, aka the Italian Stallion, will marry his long-time girlfriend and fellow dancer, GIADA LINI, in his native Sicily. The couple got engaged in 2019 when he proposed to her on May 7th, his 26th birthday, on stage in Watford – much to the delight of the cheering audience – during the tour of dance show, Burn the Floor.

They twice had to postpone the wedding but now they will wed plum in the middle of the Here Come The Boys tour. So how many performances will he be missing? “None,” he says, “they arranged the tour around the wedding.”

What’s more, Giada will also be dancing on the 30-date tour, which kicked off in Portsmouth this week and finally comes to rest at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal on July 24th. There’s also a performance at London’s Eventim Apollo on 4th July (5 days before the wedding Graziano – just saying).

PRODUCTION REHEARSALS

Graziano first joined Strictly in 2018 when he partnered TV and radio presenter Vick Hope……….

“It completely changed my life. I come from a small town in Sicily where my parents work in the vineyards. When I first started dancing, my dad said he thought there was something wrong with me.

“Then, when the invitation came to join Strictly, I practically fell off my chair. My parents flew to the UK to watch me dance. The camera found my dad in the audience and tears were streaming down his face. Now he understood what dancing meant to me.”

Here Come The Boys, in exactly the same way as it was at the Palladium last year, will be presented by Karim Zeroual, who was a runner-up on Strictly with pro dancer Amy Dowden in 2019.

Best known as a CBBC presenter, he appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Palladium where he made his West End debut aged six……

“So I can’t describe how happy I was to be back in that beautiful theatre. I never dreamt that I’d get the chance to perform there again. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life.”

Now he’ll get to tour with the show, something last time round denied by the pandemic…….

“What I love about Here Come The Boys is that it encompasses every form of dancing: ballroom, jive, street dance, contemporary, Latin, you name it. There’s something for everyone.

“It’s such a high-energy show, one big party featuring so much talent and a brilliant choreographer in Gareth Walker. And I have the honour of hosting the show which means I get to speak to the audience and get them involved.”

Here Come The Boys (Photo: The TCB Group)

It’s second time round, too, for Strictly veteran, Pasha Kovalev. He told us…….

“What I particularly like about this show is that every performance is slightly different. It feels like you’re creating something new each time. We take our lead from the audience and that makes it a lot of fun. There’s a sort of ping-pong between the stage and the auditorium. It’s one of the reasons I like touring so much.”

But it means, of course, that his two small daughters – Maven is two, Noa just eight months – will be left at home with his Countdown maths whizz wife, Rachel Riley.

“That’s right: the downside is that they can’t come on tour with me. I absolutely love dancing but it’s tough leaving the family at home especially after all those months of the pandemic when I was with them all the time. But they’ll be in the best hands and my mum, Galina, is staying so she helps out.”

In the Covid-hit months, he got together with Anya Garnis, his long-time Latvian professional dance partner since they both moved to America in 2001 and then on to the UK………

“We raised money for fellow artists hit hard by the effects of the pandemic by performing an online charity event on World Theatre Day back in March.”

He’s 42 now. What about keeping fit?

“I’m not a great one for the gym; I prefer to work out at home and do a bit of yoga. But, because I danced in Here Come the Boys before, I can rely to some extent on muscle memory. My body knows what to do.”

And when the tour is over?

“Plenty of sunshine, please, and warm sea somewhere. Not sure which country yet but a holiday with the family is my goal.”

Nikita Kuzmin makes no bones about it………

“Joining Strictly last year, changed everything. I was born in Ukraine and lived and danced in three other countries – Italy, Denmark and Germany – before coming to the UK.

“But it was Strictly that made me feel 100 per cent me. I’ve never been as creatively challenged as I was on that first series – and I couldn’t have been luckier in having Tilly Ramsay as my first partner. It felt like a match made in heaven. We then were part of the live tour which was a huge thrill.”

Now, he’s the newbie in the line-up for Here Come The Boys and he couldn’t be happier. Because they went to the same dancing school in Italy, he already knew Graziano and Nadiya before he joined Strictly. Now, he’s getting to know Pasha and Karim.

“What is so impressive about the line-up is the diversity everyone brings to the show.”

Rehearsals and a bit of keep fit in full swing (Photo: Instagram @herestheboys)

And, finally, here comes the girl… This is Nadiya Bychkova’s second shot at Here Come The Boys and she’s delighted……..

“It was an amazing experience and it was lovely to be part of the first show opening up The Palladium again following the pandemic. The first night was very emotional. Now, I can’t wait to repeat the experience plus, this time, we get to go on tour.”

Will her boyfriend and fellow Strictly professional, Kai Widdrington, come to some of the shows?

“Oh, I’m sure he will. We support each other.”

As to whether she and Kai will put together a show of their own and take it on the road, Nadiya remains tight-lipped.

In the meantime, she’s been very busy on the Strictly Live tour and the recently completed the Pro tour……..

“All of that requires a lot of careful planning so I can get to see my daughter, Mila, who’s six in June, as much as I can. But much nicer to be too busy than not busy enough. And I’ll be back on Strictly this autumn so I’ve barely got a day off for the rest of this year.”

“I love to work hard and I love to dance. So I consider myself very lucky.”

And no, she’s not remotely fazed, she says, about being the only leading female in the line-up for Here Come The Boys…….

“The trick is to make it look as though the men are in charge. But then, isn’t that what women have been doing for men since the beginning of time?”

The ‘Girl’ and the ‘New Boy’ – Nadiya Bychkova & Nikita Kuzmin (Photo: Instagram)

HERE COME THE BOYS gets to St David’s hall in Cardiff on Tuesday 5th July. This is a one night only thing so you’ll need to be quick to get yourself a ticket, which you can do right HERE.

To find out more about the Boys & Girl, head over to their website HERE

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