Talk of the town: Burning desire to move you...
11th May 2019
On Friday May 31 Strictly Come Dancing’s current champion Kevin Clifton brings his much acclaimed dance extravaganza Burn the Floor to the Assembly Hall. Ahead of his arrival in Tunbridge Wells Eileen Leahy spoke to the talented dancer
So before we get into what Burn the Floor is all about, tell us how life is post your Strictly win with Stacey Dooley?
It’s been absolutely crazy! I haven’t let go of the Strictly glitter ball: it’s by my bed so I wake up to it every morning. It was totally mental to win as Stacey (Dooley) and I didn’t expect it at all, not for one second did we ever think we would win!
If you look back at the final show and see how nervous the other three finalist couples were when Tess was about to announce the winner, we so weren’t! But when Tess said we’d won, it all went nuts!
You’re currently touring another series of the hugely successful Burn the Floor. Can you tell us what you love about doing this show so much?
I’ve done it a few times over the years so it’s a bit like a family for me. The first Burn the Floor show I appeared in was January 2008 and I’ve done a few since then on Broadway and in the West End. It’s been quite a journey. I think what I enjoy most is that the directors of it give you a tremendous amount of creative freedom on stage.
Can you tell us what you mean by that?
Well there’s obviously a narrative to the show and there are different characters and relationships but it’s very flexible in terms of how you react in certain scenes and to various dances.
The director and choreographers want to get the best performance from you so it’s not just about straight legs and pointed toes, it’s more about having raw energy and passion.
You’re dancing flat out and you’re so emotionally involved that it’s like being in a movie. No two shows are danced exactly the same as we improvise a lot.
Do you enjoy having that kind of creative freedom in dancing?
Yes. I came out of the competition world of dancing, where there is technique and rules that you have to keep to, and then started doing Burn the Floor, which is all about entertainment and being in the moment.
In competitions I had to dance a certain way but with Burn the Floor I have learned so much, not just about dance but about narrative and how to tell it and to connect with other dancers. It changed me completely as a dancer and gave me so much freedom.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the content of Burn the Floor?
Well there around 20 dancers in it alongside myself and my co-star Graziano Di Prima. You’ll get to see everything from futuristic foxtrot to passionate tango and amazing rumba routines all of which boast a story.
The structure of each show remains the same but there is so much spontaneity within each dance routine, which is great.
It sounds like a full-on show, how do you prepare for it?
You have to do all the things in order to help you look after yourself physically as well as mentally. In terms of getting into character for the show, as I’m a quite reserved and shy person I have to really rev myself up, get into channelling as a bit of a lunatic!
I guess I get into a different zone and become a different person. When I perform I have to feel confident, almost like a rock star, so I listen to loud music before I go on stage so I feel energised and really present.
My biggest problem is coming down afterwards! When the show finishes we’re all full of adrenalin so it takes a while to get to sleep. In real life I’m probably the most boring person you could meet. A cup of tea and Match of the Day on the telly is what I get up to!
You did Burn the Floor before you signed up for Strictly so did you bring any of your experience with you?
Absolutely. Once I got Strictly Come Dancing (2013) I wanted to bring elements of Burn the Floor into the TV show with me. I suppose I wanted my partner (his first was Good Morning Britain’s Susannah Reid) and I to tell a story: who are you in this samba, and who am I? I wanted to bring a little show within the show.
How important do you find the audience is when you dance?
Very, I love the interaction between us and them as there’s nothing like that moment in Burn or Strictly when everything seems to click and you’re totally in the moment and could do anything. And when the audience is on board there’s nothing like that connection to really feed off that.
Kevin on the Strictly effect
Dancing is a whole different ball game these days thanks to Strictly Come Dancing. When I was doing competitions, my mates at school were like ‘that’s what my granny does’ but now those same friends and their kids are messaging me when Strictly’s on saying things like: ‘Hey Kev, in that samba was Stacey supposed to straighten her leg?’ Dancing has become so popular and now everyone has an opinion on it. I find that amazing!
Tickets to see Kevin Clifton in Burn the Floor at the Assembly Hall on Friday May 31 can be booked via www.assemblyhall.co.uk Prices start from £38.75