Fiona Whyte is a multi-talented artist who caught our eye with her incredible photographs from the Strictly Live Tour – 2015. In addition to her brilliant photography skills, she has operated her own dance school, Fi Steps, for 24 years. She is from Horsham in West Sussex and her dance school branches are in Horsham and Crawley. We know you will love learning more about her!
Many of us first noticed your work when we saw your beautiful photos from this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Live tour, and we were surprised to learn that you got your start in photography fairly recently. How did you get started, what aspect of it interested you, and how did you end up doing performance photography/live show photography?
I first took photos in 2014 on Pasha Kovalev & Katya Virshilas’ UK tour. I have run my own dance school for almost 25 years and have a huge passion for dance and performance. Having recently lost my Mum the one thing I realized is that you can never have enough photographs, so I treated myself to a good camera. My dance school was participating in two performances of the tour and that’s where I took my first photos. After that I was thrilled to be asked to photograph several other performances on the tour. I seem to have been blessed with the ability to capture dance at the right moment. My many years in the industry may help with that as I know how a dancer would want to be seen.
You’ve been a busy lady lately! Tell us about some of your recent projects and what you have coming up in the near future.
Yes things have been mad! I am taking photos of Pasha’s current tour at the moment and am also blessed to be taking photos for some of the UK’s best performing arts colleges.
I did the Puttin' On Ritz tour for last two nights with Kristina Rihanofff, Robin Windsor, Trent Whiddon, Pixie Lott and Gordana Grandosek. Tomorrow I am on the Life Through Dance Tour with Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis where my dance school will also perform within the show at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham.
What are some of the challenges you face when shooting live shows?
The hardest thing about live shows is my positioning, as obviously the view for a paying audience has to come first. Where I can be located really depends on the venue, but is often at the back of the circle.
When shooting dance shows and performances such as the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour or Pasha Kovalev’s Life Through Dance, how many photos might you shoot during an average show? From that number, how many do you actually use or post?
On average I probably take about 500-600 photos for a full show, sometimes more if I haven’t seen it or photographed it before, less if I am more familiar with it. I guess I end up using maybe one in five photos and often only two in any hundred will be seen. It depends on the performer and whether I they wish to provide confirmation that they are happy with the photographs. I am now at the stage where some people trust me and my work and allow me to release photos without checking with them first.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
I photograph with my heart and passion. I look to capture the performers’ emotions or a special moment!
Is there a photographic project thus far that you have found particularly interesting or fascinating?
I adore dance shows, but I would also like to do more animal and pet photography. I love live show work and the challenge of getting that ‘great’ dancer shot!
Obviously photography is your passion, but what other art forms are of interest to you?
Clearly I love performance, and this takes me to watch as many shows as possible. I also enjoy movies and music. The best time for me though is quality family time, such as days out or holidays, times that provide lifelong memories.
Earlier I mentioned my dance school – I love giving my students the goals, opportunities and self worth which I lacked as a child. I aim to provide them with as many dance performance opportunities as I possibly can - wonderful experiences which will provide them with amazing memories.
Tell us more about yourself. What do you do for fun? What (and who) do you like about Strictly Come Dancing? What would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
I am married with a 9 year old daughter and we have three cats. Often when I’m playing with my daughter we have so much fun that I forget that I am the adult!
Strictly – well the professionals are sublime. Most people underestimate the amount of work, sacrifice and dedication that they put into their work. I started studying ballroom and Latin dance when I was three and continued to do so for just over 16 years so I have a huge appreciation of how the professionals constantly strive for perfection.
I think my ultimate goal is to become the dancers’ photographer! I would love to be the one they rely upon to capture the live dance shows.
Any words for all the new fans of your work?
I love that people are enjoying my photos as much as I am capturing the things I love. I am so grateful for the love and support.
I come from very very humble beginnings. I have a huge passion for dance and have run my own dance school for 24 years, keeping kids off streets, giving them goals, self worth and performance opportunities in West Sussex, UK. This has also led me to have another huge passion for live show photography. As an ex-dancer but still with a huge heart I try and capture a routine from a dancers and performers perspective. I have toured taking photos of Katya Virshilas & Pasha Kovalev last year. I am taking photos of Pasha’s tour this year. I took photos of all the top professional dance colleges at Move It at Olympia. As well as being on tour with Pasha Kovalev, I have also captured Camilla Dallerup, Robin Windsor and Kristina Rhianoff. I have also captured Miss Pole UK, The Gershwin Tour, Strictly Come Dancing Tour, Ballet Theatre UK to mention a few. Lots of exciting shoots in the pipeline! I am now official photographer for Anna Kennedy Online which works raising money and awareness for autism. I am also official photographer for various touring bands one being the The Rapiers. Dancers / performers seem to be really happy with my photos as I know how a dancer and performer feel. I try and capture a photo from my heart. I am growing and learning daily.
I have had photos published the last two months issues of Dance Today as well as newspapers. I think I have more photos being published in next month's Dance Today. Love and blessings - Thank you for your kindness and belief in me . --Fiona
For more information:
Tristan has not only had a very busy spring, but he has lots more coming up. In this short interview, he talks about Ballroom With A Twist, those Ironman Triathlon Challenges and what's ahead. He also has a very important message which is posted at the end of this interview.
You obviously can learn choreography quickly, but we’re still curious. We've seen pictures of you and Chelsie from BWAT in Kentucky and many of us were lucky enough to see that show. How much time did you and she have to rehearse together for your individual numbers? Would you mind recapping the numbers you performed for those who haven’t seen it?
When it comes to BWAT there is a show schedule like most others and similar running order to the numbers so we did a Waltz, Tango, Rumba and Foxtrot. The Foxtrot has always been part of the show itself to “Fever” so that dance is always in BWAT by somebody. The Tango myself and Anna usually perform. The Rumba is to “Quiéreme mucho” which is always included in BWAT when there is a symphony orchestra like the one coming up in Winnipeg. We have both been quite busy, myself and Chelsie, so we came in the day before the show and the day of the show to rehearse everything for a few hours but we had videotapes that we could learn individually which sometimes is a necessity when you are both so busy or out of town.
We have been reading about your Ironman Triathlon Competitions including the Ironman 70.3 Dublin in August. How long have you been interested in this type of competition? How long did you train, what type of training do you do, and how difficult was the triathlon you competed in earlier this month?
Not too long in all fairness and if it wasn't for my pal being over and doing it I probably wouldn't have got involved. We came back to LA to do the show but everything changed last minute so we said we would stay and get some rest, spend some time in the sun and together as we had been so busy the last year, and then my buddy came and was training here so I joined in and loved it. I needed a bit of direction and a new focus so the training was perfect. A lot of swimming/cycling/running obviously was the focus so I spent a lot of time by the sea and the beaches in Santa Monica / Redondo / Hermosa. I started pretty late training I only really got a couple of weeks so I’m putting more time in now before Dublin in August. The hardest part I guess was the unknown of the competition. For me I just wanted to finish the race again. I’m not competitive. I just enjoy the process so the three disciplines were tough in the heat in Utah and the hills - haha- Saint George is absolutely beautiful though if you ever get a chance to go see it.
You will be competing in the Ironman 70.3 Dublin in August and you will be supporting Focus Ireland in the process. Tell us about Focus Ireland and the work they do.
I was looking into doing Dublin straight away after Utah and during the race I was thinking about the next one already. I was having that much fun but what I didn't realize was how popular the triathlon is and that it pretty much sold out as soon as it was announced. With it being the first 70.3 in Ireland I was raging a bit so I thought I’d miss out on it and also it’s on the first week of our rehearsals for Strictly. A pal of mine from home who was competing in it then told me that Focus Ireland had places open for people to help raise awareness and I thought it was perfect. I had done some work for Focus Ireland before years back and had been working with an awareness group here for the homeless also so it was a no brainer. I called Strictly and it turns out we have that day off because it’s a Sunday in August so everything aligned properly. Focus Ireland is the largest nonprofit organization in Ireland from Dublin who provide a bunch of services for homeless people like housing and I guess we are trying to break the stereotypes.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of your first Ironman competition? Did you have a strategy or goal? Will you do anything differently for the next one?
I had no strategy, no. Just don't miss the start of the race and don't drown in the sea. Don't fall off the bike and then don't get cramp during the run or cry at the end. So I done good although I did get a bit of cramp near the end. The temperature is obviously going to be very different in Ireland but I have no extra goals, no, bar raising money for the charity and I will hopefully finish the race again. I like taking in the scenery and I’m gonna love being back in Ireland so I’ll be training there in July and taking the bike around the country as much as I can.
We haven’t heard much about Pike lately. How’s he doing?
Pikey is great. He is a lot bigger than we were expecting but he is a little legend.
Finally, you have lots of travel coming up with BWAT, the cruises, Life’s A Dance, Ireland, more BWAT, and Strictly. Will you be teaching as well or is your schedule mostly full with everything else?
I barely have time to clean behind my ears these days (I do!) so no plans to do any teaching although on the Holland America cruise I hope to able to fit in lessons while I'm on the ship which I wasn't allowed do before. Hopefully I can get some done there but other than that I don't really have many days off now until Strictly finished in December. That’s wishful thinking as I could be done as early as week 1. Haha.
******IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM TRISTAN******
"I’m getting a lot of messages about social media, and I hope nobody takes anything personal or too serious. I use my Facebook and stuff like that to keep in touch with family and friends at home so I needed to take that back. I like to keep that private and a lot of things were getting too exposed and old memories were being shared around too much on other sites and pages. I appreciate all the support as always and am happy to answer all the questions but I needed to separate all my personal life from people. Nobody take it that you have offended me or done something wrong – It’s just all or nothing for me. THANK YOU!"
There is a lot about Strictly Come Dancing to love - the weekly shows, It Takes Two, the Christmas Special, the Strictly Live Tour, the pros, the celebrities, the hosts, the judges, and more. While we're waiting for the 2015 series to start this fall, we thought we would take a look back at what has gone on since Tristan joined the cast in August, 2014. We have lots of thoughts on this very topic but we decided to go visual this time around. So here are our top 10 favorite photos (all of Tristan, of course) from Strictly Come Dancing 2014.
Special thanks to forum members Caribbean Cooler, Chiquita, LC, and Not Jane Austen for helping me choose these photos. They are good ones!
From the Strictly Come Dancing - 2014 Launch Show...
From It Takes Two and "Cotton-Eyed Joe"...
From Week 3's "Mamma Mia" Foxtrot...
Tristan and pro partner Kristina Rihanoff - "Let It Go"...
"Step In Time"...
Making an entrance with Tess Daly...
"Goldfinger" Rumba with Aliona Vilani...
With Katherine Jenkins in Week 7...
And with Kristina Rihanoff on It Takes Two discussing the Pro Challenge Results.
What do you think of our choices? We can't wait for Strictly 2015 to begin!
Tristan took time out from his very busy schedule to answer your questions about Strictly Come Dancing - 2015, The People's Strictly, and his many upcoming appearances.
Congratulations on returning to Strictly Come Dancing this fall. What are you most looking forward to?
Thanks. I’m looking forward to going back to the UK. I had a blast there last season and it was great working with so many friends again. I just generally like the British humour and day to day of being in London and catching up with my friends and family there.
Even though you had already been a pro for several years, what is one thing you learned from being on Strictly Come Dancing last year?
You learn a lot not just on the show. It’s quite different but also similar in a way but I just like being around everyone involved with the show and I enjoy how closely all departments work with each other. The Strictly crew guys are sound and the banter is great. The singers are good friends of mine and the diversity in the styles outside of the show is great as well. The hair and makeup department are all funny as well and I generally just like being around everyone but it’s not like you learn anything - just reinforce that everyone is in it together and it’s not the be all and end all. We can have a personal life as well as a working one.
Speaking of Strictly, we enjoyed hearing about The People’s Strictly where extraordinary people who gave so much had the opportunity to train with various pros and dance on the SCD stage. Did you have a chance to follow it, and/or is this something you would be interested in doing in the future?
I love People’s Strictly and I think it’s a great idea. I was raging I couldn't be a part of last year’s one but hopefully I’ll get a chance to do it this time if the schedule permits. Also the Christmas Special was great fun so hopefully I can do as much as possible. I know it might not be too popular but I think maybe America can do one season a year and do a special like People’s Strictly for the fans of the show and maybe specials with military or police force, fire departments, supermarket workers or whatever - it would be great to see, I think.
You have another very busy summer coming up with lots of appearances in lots of places. Is there any place in particular on your itinerary that you are eager to see?
I’m really excited about going to Rome but unfortunately I won't be there for very long so I may have to try and get a second trip back there at some stage. Also the Holland America cruises have new routes for me this time so that will be fun. I love going everywhere so I get a buzz out of wherever I am.
In our last interview you mentioned that you would be rehearsing with Iveta for the P&O cruise. How did that go? What can you tell us about the numbers you will be performing?
It went great, yeah, and she came to LA last week as well so we done a wee bit more. We have three Latin and three Ballroom dances. I think we do maybe four shows on the cruise so it should be fun - and no doubt we will get it right at least once – haha.
Any idea what’s ahead for the HAL cruises? Have you had a chance to work with Florence Henderson yet? I’m sure it will be fun working with Carson and Kym again, but do you know if Iveta (or others from previous cruises) be on these cruises as well? Are there going to be format changes this time or do you know much about that yet?
I don't know much about the cruise to be honest. I have so much going on before then but I will try find the time to get together with Florence and see what it is they want us to do. I won't know about any format or whatever until I get there. I don't know if the lineup is complete yet but I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough from people who are on board but again I’m pretty swamped for a bit so I’ll leave that until a little closer to the time.
It’s time for another dance tutorial. One of your supporters wants to know what you think is important for a strong Tango and Argentine Tango and how you go about teaching these dances.
Timing and footwork I guess with Tango. It’s a difficult enough dance but I find for beginner just really pushing the story and history of the Tango gets the juices flowing and they can get into the mood first which helps. Sometimes with other dances for some people they find it hard to get going and can feel a bit awkward sometimes but when you add that strong pose and the arrogance and passion I think people like it from the off.
Finally, here is what we have for your performing schedule (as well as other BWAT dates for which you are uncomfirmed). Are there changes, additions, or cancellations? Lots of people have been asking.
May 7 BWAT Ashland, Kentucky
May 22-24 BWAT Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
May 28 P&O SCD Mediterranean Cruise
June 6 HAL Cruises: DWTS At Sea
June 13 HAL Cruises: DWTS At Sea
June 20 Life’s A Dance
June 27 BWAT Cache Creek Casino, Brooks, California
July 18 BWAT NJPAC Newark, New Jersey (See Tristan's comment below)
Fall, 2015 Strictly Come Dancing
Additional BWAT Dates - Summer, 2015 - Yes or No? (See Tristan's response below)
June 13 Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
July 1 Bemidji, Minnesota
July 11 Bethesda, Maryland
July 23-25 Beverly, Massachusetts
August 5 Greenville, Texas
August 9 Westbury, New York
August 12-16 Patchogue, New York
That looks right enough and to check it there! I think I may be doing July 1st but I’m not sure yet as I’ll be back in Ireland for most of July. I’m not doing the 11th but might be on 18th in Newark and then maybe North Shore dates and back to Ireland. I won't be doing August as I’ll be starting Strictly rehearsals.
Thank you, Tristan!