Rare is the Strictly Come Dancing pro who hasn’t branched off into their own stage show, and Latin American dance champs Neil and Katya Jones are no exception. Somnium is the story of their romance and partnership – not the bit you might know from the tabloids (last year Katya was pictured snogging her Strictly partner Seann Walsh outside a London pub) but a tale of love, ambition and being proud to be different.
Neil choreographs and directs the show, with music direction and costumes by Katya. It’s an easy watch, dashing by at swift pace with a cut-and-paste soundtrack of pop songs.
The opening group scenes ooze with the pleasure of two bodies connecting, revelling in motion together, and there’s great chemistry between the Joneses. The inventive choreography pulls in influences from everywhere: contemporary, commercial, hip-hop, MC Hammer, even the floss, as well as jive and Latin – all shot through with punchy attitude.
Actor Charles Venn narrates in detail, playing the couple’s former teacher. His self-regarding, plummy-toned delivery jars at times but it’s a useful device in that it leaves no work for the audience. There’s plenty of stage time for the excellent supporting dancers, including the whoop-inducing power moves of B-boy Chris Arias, but the best bits inevitably come from the leading couple. Neil in particular is a fantastic dancer, with a still strength at his core and energy whiplashing out from the centre. There’s a sense of heat building inside him, a heart-bursting swell, and he shows great swagger when partnering Katya, who is a dancer of clean, clean lines but molten in his arms.
Somnium has a bit of everything: cheese, comedy, silliness, gimmicks (a UV routine!), an earnest message. Only a couple of scenes fall flat (the fey fashionistas feel like a bit of a throwback in these enlightened times). It’s quite slight, but packs in some great dancing, especially when the electricity erupts into fast, fierce group numbers. It is fun to see dance that goes all out to entertain, where the performers look like they’re having the time of their lives and really, really want you to feel the same way.