WHEN I speak to Strictly star Pasha Kovalev, he is in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne taking part in the Strictly Come Dancing live tour. He tells me its snowing outside but isn’t at all worried about the weather considering he grew up in the cold climates of his native Russia.

Pasha got the dance bug there at the age of eight and, after competing in several competitions over the next decade, turned professional with his dance partner Anya Garnis in amove to the United States in 2001. The pair competed regularly over the next five years, and then fame beckoned when Pasha joined the American dance showSo You Think You Can Dance in 2007.

More recently, he has delighted UKaudiences in Britain’s own Strictly Come Dancing.

Pasha joined Strictly in 2011 where he partnered Waterloo Road star Chelsee Healey, mentoring her to the semi-finals. The success was repeated again in 2012 when Pasha was paired with Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh.

“I’ve had two amazing partners in Chelsee and Kimberley during the two years I’ve been on Strictly,” he tells me. “We’ve had some great choreography to work with and I wouldn’t be a good teacher if I hadn’t enjoyed the progress they made. I know howhard it is and the dedication that’s required. I am proud of both of them.”

Pasha believes the success of Strictly lies with the encouragement given not just fromhimself but fellowcompetitors such as Brendan Cole and Anton Du Beke.

“Everyone behind the scenes is so supportive including the other competitors.Weall want to achieve the best results and try newthings.”

Fans will have to wait until the summer to see if Pasha will get another attempt at the Strictly crown. “Wewon’t knowif we will be asked back on to the series until the Summer,” he says.

In the meantime, Pasha will be kept busy on stage with two Strictly live shows (including a “very exciting” cruise) and a tour with fellowStrictly star Katya Virshilas which comes to St David’s Hall onMay 1 .

“Dancing on television can be very isolated so when fans come to the theatre they will experience the full energy of dance,”

Pasha says. “On this tour there’s a lot of dancing including ballroom, Latin, waltz and paso doble.”

Pasha is also keen the showwill be as interactive as possible, highlighting the “fantastic” work of local dance schools and talking to the audience. “There will also be a question-and-answer session at the end as we love to hear what people think,” he says.

As he’s so constantly in demand, I ask Pasha if he ever gets chance to relax and unwind.

“I always like to go ski-ing,” he laughs before continuing, “although that’s just as energetic!

I do like to visitmyfriends in Russia and Los Angeles.” He pauses, realising he still sounds rather busy, “Oh and watch movies and read books...” he concludes laughing.

Evidently Pasha prefers to stay strictly busy.

● Pasha and Katya will appear at St David’s Hall on Wednesday May 1. Call box office on 029 2087 8444 for details.