Kevin Clifton on emotional Strictly win, dancing without Karen and his move into musical theatre
copyright chris mann
He has finally been crowned king of the ballroom and now Strictly Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton tells Jessica Long why he is returning to a theatre tour which holds professional and personal memories.
They say good things come to those who wait and that is most definitely the case for Kevin Clifton.
After four failed attempts he was finally crowned Strictly Come Dancing champion with Stacey Dooley and when I spoke to him a few weeks after he lifted the glitter ball trophy it was clear he was still emotional about what he described as “one of the best nights” of his life.
“We were really calm in the moment and then when Tess said Stacey and Kevin it came as this massive shock,” he said.
“It was a massive explosion of energy and everyone shot up to their feet and Stacey put her head in her hands and I fell to the floor.
I got really emotional because I didn’t know how to react and I didn’t know what to say and then Stacey started being all nice to me in what she was saying and I just fell apart really.
“It was an amazing, amazing moment.”
Winning the biggest dance show on television was the climax of a long dancing career for the 36-year-old from Grimsby who trained in ballroom and Latin dancing from an early age.
He came from a family of dancers with his younger sister Joanne also a Strictly Come Dancing champion and his parents world champions.
He won competitions all over the world but in 2008 he found he was “quite bored” with the ballroom world and made the big decision to stop competing.
This is when he made the jump to theatre and joined the cast of Burn The Floor - a unique ballroom and Latin company he is touring again with this year alongside fellow Strictly stars Graziano Di Prima and Johannes Radebe.
“I didn’t want to compete anymore and I wasn’t really satisfied with my dancing and I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere, then Burn The Floor took me in.
“I just loved it from the second I arrived in the rehearsal room. They just had an energy about them and a passion about their dancing and I just became so inspired.
“I owe the biggest development in my own dancing to Burn The Floor because it was very much concerned with character and narrative and story telling and what is the actual meaning of what ever we were performing.”
Burn The Floor didn’t just have a big impact on his professional life.
It was while he was in cast that he met his now estranged wife Karen who is also a dancer on Strictly.
And it was after a performance at the Shaftesbury Theatre that Kevin got down on one knee and proposed to Karen.
I was interested to know what it would be like joining a show which contains so many personal memories but Kevin told me he is very used to dancing with other partners.
“For some of the time in Burn The Floor I danced with Karen and I spent quite a lot of time before that without Karen in it.
“She came into Burn The Floor two or three years in to me doing it so I’m used to dancing in the cast and I have had quite a few partners within Burn The Floor.
“You get to experience different characters and they cast it in a way that it’s a whole group of different characters.”
Away from the dance world Kevin is trying something new in 2019.
Before he starts Burn The Floor he is playing Stacee Jaxx in the Rock of Ages musical.
The career move unintentionally mirrors that of his sister who moved into musical theatre after winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2016 with Ore Oduba.
Joanne has not returned to the BBC One show since but Kevin assured us (thankfully) that he has no plans to leave the show he loves.
“I’ve got no plans to move away from Strictly.
“I’ve been wanting to do musical theatre for a while and Rock of Ages is one of my favourite shows so it’s been a good fit but I finish Rock of Ages before Strictly starts this year.
“Obviously we don’t find out if we have a job on Strictly until later in the year so it’s up to them whether they would want me back on the show or not.”
The 35 date 2019 UK tour runs from the April 18 through to June 8. The tour comes to King’s Lynn on April 23 (which is sold out) and Ipswich on June 2.
Tickets can be booked directly through the theatres or at www.burnthefloor.com.