He is used to dancing the night away on TV every Saturday night throughout the winter, but Pasha Kovalev’s latest venture is a more personal affair.

The Russian-born pro, who has competed on Strictly Come Dancing since 2011, is bringing his Let’s Dance the Night Away tour to the Regent Centre in Christchurch, along with his professional partner of 20 years, Anya Garnis.

No stranger to headlining his own stage show, Kovalev, 37, holds this year’s production particularly close to his heart.

“I’ve done a few and every time it’s a different show,” he explains, “but this is quite personal because the story of the show is based on my story of being a dancer and growing up learning how to dance and telling everyone where the dancing took me.”

That story saw an eight-year-old Kovalev persuade his mother to take him “where the girls are”, after being seduced by dancing at a competition.

“I really liked what was going on on the stage,” he remembers.

“It was winter, but it was a totally different world, going on stage – and there were lots of pretty girls there.”

He admits it was never his intention to appear on television, only to focus on his dancing and become the best he could be in his field.

That determination saw Kovalev and Garnis leave Russia in 2001 to further opportunities in America.

“I felt a little bit stuck back in Russia,” he explains.

“It was quite difficult to get good coaches and develop your skills further. I was following my dance career and following my dream.

“I started on TV in America, but on different shows. Then I was invited by Strictly, because production are always aware of what else is going on in the world.

“Being on TV was never my goal in a million years. My first priority was always learning how to dance, becoming better and just focusing on competitions and things like that. But then Anya dragged me to one of the auditions and the rest is history.”

Turns out that audition was a good call – Kovalev holds the record for most tens ever awarded on the show, with a total of 61, and the record for the most perfect scores, with a total of eight. He is also the first dancer to reach the finals three times, as the runner up of series nine and ten, and the winner of series 12 with celebrity partner Caroline Flack.

Kovalev is awaiting a call anytime now to confirm his spot on the 2017 series, with the professionals beginning choreography on the group routines as early as the beginning of August – to let them focus on their celebrities during the season, he explains.

With preparation for his next tour beginning as soon as his own 2017 show finishes, I wonder if he ever takes time off?

“I have been trying to give myself a couple of weeks’ break so that I can relax and recharge for the show,” he admits.

“In the winter I like to go skiing. It gives me a chance to spend some time with my brother, who is living back in Russia in our home town. In the summer I try to go somewhere warm and it gives me time to see my mum and bring her over.”

I get the impression Kovalev doesn’t like to relax too much, however – dancing is clearly his life, although he is all too aware his career has a limited lifespan.

“I know that the life of a dancer is not that long,” he says, “but at this point I enjoy doing it and I still can, so I’m not thinking about what will happen next. I’m taking it one day at a time, but the phone always rings.

“When I stop being a dancer I’m sure life will give me the opportunity of something else. But I still want to entertain people and I have lots of ideas about shows and creative stuff that I would probably have more time to do when I’m not being a dancer.”

For now though, the focus is on his tour and getting fans and dance enthusiasts of all ages and walks of life – even young performers from local dance schools who perform alongside him at each venue – engaged with his passion.

“People walk out with big smiles – kids and adults,” he says. “That’s the biggest compliment for me, to make a show that everyone will enjoy.

Everyone for two hours can just forget about what’s outside the theatre and just step into this beautiful world.”

Let’s Dance the Night Away is at the Regent Centre in Christchurch on May 5 and 6.

Tickets are £24, concessions £22, from regentcentre.co.uk or 01202 499199.