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Flirty Dancing: Interview with Ashley Banjo


`Flirty Dancing’. Choreographer Ashley Banjo plays cupid with hopeful singletons through the medium of dance to reintroduce the notion of love at first dance.

Will there be magic on the dance floor in the second series. Will it be blood on the dance floor? We got to speak to the hunky Ashley on what to expect from the new series,

Is it good to be back with a second series of Flirty Dancing?

I’m super excited to be back with the second series of Flirty Dancing – I don’t know where the time has gone. I mean, I’ve had a baby and we’ve made a second series, so time has just flown, but I’m really excited for people to see what I think is a really special show.

Were you surprised by all the love series one got?

I was actually. I was nervous at first! I think when you first tell people about the concept they think it’s got a lot of potential but it’s also got a lot of potential to be a bit cheesy, but I think that people were surprised by what the show was and how beautiful it was. I was over the moon that people liked it.

Is there anything different about this series compared to series one?

It’s quite rare to get, what I think, is an original concept nowadays, because there is so much telly. But I think what we have is genuinely an original concept. I don’t think there’s anything else like it.

I think it took us the first series to really understand what it was that we had. And now, with series two, locations, dances, matches, everything is just a bit more refined.

Will any of the Diversity crew be joining you again?

Absolutely – we couldn’t do it without them. We’ve got three of the girls, Starr, Georgia and Morgan, and then we’ve got Perri, Warren, Nathan and Chris. So, throughout the series you’ll see loads of the group.

Do you ever disagree on any of the routines – is it a team effort or is it your vision?

It’s my vision but at the same time I love the saying ‘two heads are better than one.’ I would ask the girls ‘how would you feel if a guy did this move?’ and I’d ask the guys ‘Is this too much or do you think he could do more?’

I talk it all through, say this is what I want to do and come up with the movements but they’re the best most experienced sounding board. We put our heads together to create the perfect date.

What were your favourite locations this series?

That is an impossible question. I think if you watch the pre-titles of the show within the first few seconds you can see that there are some beautiful places – indoors, outdoors, all over the country – so it’s impossible to pick one!

Do you feel the pressure of the dance dates not working out?

Yes, because you know this is the only show, in the world maybe, where the daters are not plopped into a format. We create everything around them. We put so much time and effort into trying to make it work for two people that you just hope and hope and hope that it works.

When you’re watching the dance dates – are you watching for the moves or the chemistry?

Chemistry, every time. Definitely. Of course, I’m watching for the moves, and I know that they want to get the moves right but it’s all about the chemistry.

Put it this way – the moves without the chemistry will always look good, but chemistry without the moves will always be better. So, I’m always watching for the chemistry first.

As a dancer – what are the signs of chemistry during the dance dates?

It’s a combination of everything. If you take a touch for example, how long they do it for, what they do with their eyes and how their body moves, it all creates this combination of either ‘get away from me’ at one end or ‘oh my god, you are an absolutely gorgeous specimen of a person’ at the other end.

You really can tell. Just because people aren’t physically talking you can still tell so much from their body language.

And when a dance doesn’t go right are you frustrated?

I’m frustrated for them. Alongside trying to find someone, what I love about this show is that people are learning a skill. They’ve put hours and hours into learning something new.

Of course, they want to get it right. I want them to get it right. Let’s say it does all work out and we do manage to find the person of their dreams, you want them to look back on this moment and say, ‘look at us!’.

You don’t want them to look back and think ‘look at all the mistakes I made!’ Obviously, I want the dances to go well, but like I said, it’s chemistry first.

Were there any mistakes, surprises or no shows?

There were – that’s what I love about this series, I think you have it all. There were no shows, there were people that didn’t turn up, there were people that didn’t like each other, there were mistakes, there were falls in rehearsals.

I think that’s because when you push it to the limits more and you ask more of people, you’re going to get mistakes aren’t you. So yes, this series really has it all.

Are any of the couples still dating?

Yes, there are a couple of them that are still dating and a lot of them are still in touch, which is exciting.

What is it about dance and this format/show in particular that makes this way of meeting someone so special?

I think because the whole thing is a crazy shared experience that gives you a common ground. When you’ve got something in common with someone, especially something as special as never meeting and learning dance and the first time you meet, you’re asked to catch and throw somebody on the day, it’s like the ultimate ice breaker.

And whilst it’s an ice breaker it’s also a bond former. We’re really putting to the test whether these people will get along because we don’t just break the ice, we create that common ground. It’s the most thorough test of compatibility that I think there is.

You met your wife dancing – what music were you dancing to that day?

It probably would have been some old-school hip-hop track. I’m not sure but nothing classically romantic – something like Notorious BIG I imagine!

What was your first dance at your wedding, and did you choreograph it?

We danced to a song called ‘I Do’ by Boyz II Men. We love RnB and boy bands and Boyz II Men are the best boy band ever and it was just this song all about saying ‘I do’ so it was just perfect. 

We didn’t choreograph it, no. We just danced around for a little bit… which was nice!

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