Strictly Come Dancing stars Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer were the headline names as Firedance brought same Latin heat to Ipswich. But was the show worthy of a 10?

East Anglian Daily Times: Strictly Come Dancing stars Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez in Firedance. Picture Firedance.Strictly Come Dancing stars Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez in Firedance. Picture Firedance. (Image: Archant)

If you have glanced at any theatre programme over the past few years you would have seen a growing number of Strictly stars touring their own shows across the UK.

You might remember Karen from being partnered up with Chris Ramsey in the last series, when the fan-favourites reached the semi-finals.

Gorka also took to the dancefloor for the Strictly Christmas Special in 2019 with girlfriend Gemma Atkinson, after the pair - who met on the show - welcomed their first child.

Unlike many other Strictly-style shows the whole performance was entirely danced, with no talking in between - something that enhanced the story telling performance and gave it an effortless flow.

With the pair coming from Spain and Venezuela the dancing and music was very much in the Latin category with hints of contemporary.

But the choreography was far from the standard samba and salsa dances with the fusion style routines used to tell and Romeo and Juliet style story.

Highlights included a big group Paso Doble number in which Gorka and Karen fought off objection to their character's relationship and a passionate routine to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.

But it was the moments with just Gorka and Karen on stage which really made you sit up and pay attention.

Gorka showed off his cheeky side in a solo routine to a Justin Timberlake classic and Karen silenced the crowd with an emotionally-charged contemporary dance which subtly portrayed the power within the female body.

Together they had a intense connection which came from two dancers performing as equals with strength and conviction.

Despite the Strictly duo being the headline dancers, the performance was far from being the Gorka and Karen show with each member of the ensemble cast given the chance to show off their talents.

Singers Paige Cook and Sandy Grigelis blended effortlessly with the dancers on stage and took on a huge variety of songs which were arranged to capture the Latin heart of the show by the brilliant Headline Band.

Gorka and Karen were joined by six other dancers on stage who all brought contrasting styles, including fire dance and fire eating, which really helped elevate the unique and stylised choreography.

This sense of unity in the cast came together beautifully towards the end of the show with an uplifting and poignant performance to Pink's What About Us which ended with all eight dancers standing as one at the front of the stage.

The night ended with a move away from the intense storyline as the audience got on their feet and the joined the cast in a celebration of Latin music and dance to a Gloria Estefan sound track.

Before the tour started Karen told me in an interview that Firedance was a vanity project for herself and Gorka and this sense of pride and passion was evident throughout the show as the pair powerfully portrayed their individuality through the dances they love.

And as the audience cheered them off the stage this sense of two very unique performers coming together for a refreshing take on ballroom and Latin dance was evident once again as Gorka said goodbye with an ab-tastic body ripple before Karen finished her night of dance with the robot.

With so many Strictly Come Dancing style tours on offer this year, if you are looking for a show that mixes emotional story telling with exquisite dancing, Firedance is one you cannot miss.

- Firedance runs nationwide until April 5.