Me and my school photo: Flavia Cacace on when she started to tango

Me and my school photo: Flavia Cacace on when she started to tango

One of Flavia's favourite photos, taken at Sandfield Primary School in Guildford, Surrey

One of Flavia's favourite photos, taken at Sandfield Primary School in Guildford, Surrey

This was taken when I was six and a pupil at Sandfield Primary School in Guildford, Surrey. It’s one of my favourite photos, even though I don’t remember having it taken. I do remember being very happy as a child. People often commented on my dimples!

I was born in Naples, into a very solid, loving family. My mum, Rosaria, was 40 when she had me. I’m the youngest of six and we’re all very sporty. My [paternal] uncle used to work on a cruise ship and when he met my aunt on it, they decided to disembark in the UK and settle in Surrey. He suggested to Dad that we come over, so Dad went first then the rest of us came a few years later, when I was four.

When I turned five I went to Sandfield, which is in a lovely old building in Guildford town centre, with a great hall, nice classrooms, and a playground to run around in. It was walking distance from my family’s Victorian house.

When I started there I was shy. Moving to a new country made me withdraw and I could only just speak Italian, never mind English. The first English words I learned were water, paper and toilet! It was difficult at the beginning and I used to cry a lot. But the school was wonderful. They used to get me to draw, paint and do craft projects like sewing so my Mum could come in and join me because she’s good at that. I remember doing a lot of reading exercises using headsets. A young teacher called Mrs Jones would take me shopping to help me with my English and to meet people outside of school. I was pretty fluent after about six months.

There must have been about 200 pupils at Sandfield, and they were very sweet. One girl often tried to talk to me and would get frustrated that I didn’t understand, which used to make me cry. /03/15/article-2115353-0BF178F4000005DC-928_468x463.jpg” width=”468″ height=”463″ alt=”Flavia with her boyfriend, actor Jimi Mistry, who she met on Strictly Come Dancing” class=”blkBorder” />

Flavia with her boyfriend, actor Jimi Mistry, who she met on Strictly Come Dancing

I did Saturday classes in Ballroom and Latin at Hurley’s Dance School in Guildford from the age of five. My parents used to dance a lot when they were younger, they even met dancing at a house party. The house Mum grew up in had a ballet school in the basement but her Dad wouldn’t let her go. So, when she had children, she was keen for us to do what she couldn’t. After Sandfield, I went to another school in Guildford: St Thomas Of Canterbury. At 14, a teacher suggested I go into competitive dancing, so I started working part-time to help pay for it. I left St Thomas at 16 with 11 GCSEs and went on to college to take A-levels in Italian, Graphic Design, Media Studies and Law.

I went back to Sandfield with Vincent Simone, my dance partner, and we danced for the children. They got out records of my time there. It was quite emotional. My parents still live in the area and if I have children I’d love to send them there, it was wonderful.

Flavia stars in Midnight Tango at London’s Aldwych Theatre until 31 March, and then touring from 6 April.