BBC Strictly Come Dancing champion Kevin Clifton will headline the world’s leading ballroom dance show, Burn The Floor, when it comes to Halifax’s Victoria Theatre in April.
He’ll be joined by Strictly’s newest pros, Italian Graziano Di Prima and South African star Johannes Radebe, in the show that has revolutionised ballroom style over the last
Kevin and Graziano took some time out of their busy schedules to chat to us about all things Strictly, dance, and Burn the Floor.
Firstly, Kevin congratulations to you and Stacey for becoming the Strictly Come Dancing Champions! It must have been an amazing feeling for you?
K Thank you! It was an unbelievable night, it still sounds so strange being called a Strictly winner when I am so used to being called runner-up! We really didn’t think we were going to win, so we
just set out to enjoy ourselves. It was such an emotional, amazing night for us and I’m so proud of Stacey, she is an absolute superstar!
Let’s find out a bit about you and Graziano. What is your favourite piece of music to dance to and what dance would you do?
K Paso Doble to the Moulin Rouge version of Roxanne.
G I love Salsa and Bachata music, but my favourite Latin dance is the Rumba because I feel I can express all of myself.
Tell us something people might not know about you...
K I can’t ride a bike.
G People don’t know that I am alive for a miracle! I was born premature at six months, but I was strong and I survived. Life is a good gift, and dancing and love makes me feel good.
As a dancer, what makes Strictly Come Dancing so special?
K I love telling stories through our performances on Strictly. I love getting my celebrity partners to a point where they are comfortable feeling confident and really enjoying dancing. The magic of the show also brings a massive audience to ballroom dancing.
G It’s a dream for a ballroom dancer being at Strictly Come Dancing, I feel so special to be part of it.
What do you enjoy the most - performing or teaching?
K I do enjoy teaching the celebs on Strictly, but performing is what I live for.
G Both of them because they are totally different. I like teaching and making people love dancing, but at the same time I love to express myself dancing.
If you could dance with anyone, who would you choose?
K I don’t really have a specific person in mind. I genuinely look forward to connecting with whoever I’m dancing with. As long as they are fully committed and nice to work with.
G My girlfriend Giada, with her all emotions are real.
Any embarrassing moments on stage or live TV?
K On live TV on my first series of Strictly I did an Argentine Tango with Susanna Reid. I wanted to do the Michael Jackson lean from Smooth Criminal. I had the special boots and equipment. In rehearsal it looked incredible, but the live show was the only time I couldn’t get my boots clipped in, so I just leant forward on one leg.
G Not really, but I didn’t expect so much positive enthusiasm from the audience.
Who inspired you to dance?
K My first inspirations were my parents. In the Ballroom world I grew up watching Jason Gilkison and Peta Roby who created BTF. I was also very inspired by performers I saw on TV such as Michael Jackson, Fred Astaire, and Robbie Williams who is my all time idol. Later in life I almost gave up dancing, but was then re-inspired again after watching Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands.
G Sounds weird, but my mum. She brought me to dance and she introduced myself to the world.
What is your process of creating a dance - from choosing the music, to the choreography, to the finished piece? How do you come up with a concept for a dance?
K It starts with the music. It has to be something that I feel I can create a story with and a feeling in the audience. Once I know which style of dance I’m basing it on, I try to think what the story arc is. Who are we as characters in this mini story? Once that is clear to me, I choreograph what I will do with the beginning, ending, and usually a change in dynamic in the middle section. It takes me forever, but once those elements are in place I can fill in the rest with steps I feel will best show off what my partner has been working on.
G First is the music, then is the idea and character, and after all is the steps. Everything has to have a meaning!
Why have you been drawn back to Burn the Floor?
K I think you never really leave BTF. It becomes a way of life. It’s a relentless show that is really hard work, but also gives you a feeling, when you are completely in the zone of a flat out BTF performance, that I’ve never found elsewhere. I’m addicted to it and I feel it has had more influence on my dancing than anything else I’ve ever been involved in.
G Because Burn the Floor is where everything begins! It is where I grow from a dancer to a performer! My second family.
Why is Burn the Floor so influential and inspiring to the Ballroom dance world?
K BTF pushes the boundaries of what we can achieve with Ballroom dancing. It’s so much more than wearing sparkly shirts and dancing the competition style. It’s years ahead of most ballroom dancing I see and is constantly seeking to improve and explore where we can take our style.
G Because in Burn the Floor you are free to express the joy of dancing, in the competition you are judged based on a technical skill. In Burn the Floor you become an artist in all it’s aspects!
What does Burn the Floor mean to you?
K BTF feels like home to me. It’s where I feel safest to express myself and explore new things in my dancing. It’s a family that I belong to and a very special place where the most interesting ballroom dancers in the world live.
G It is the biggest Ballroom company, very inspirational to all Ballroom dancers and a reference to all new ballroom companies. For me Burn the Floor means a lot, I can express myself in a very high quality dance standard.
What are you looking forward to the most when on tour with Burn the Floor?
K I’m looking forward to being pushed to my limits again and connecting with a new cast of characters and learning from them.
G For me there are three things essentially that I’m looking for: first enjoying sharing the stage with the other dancers, second have good feelings with my dance partners, and third give and receive a positive feedback from/to the audience.
What does dance mean to you?
K Dance is the original art form. Before speech or anything else we express ourselves through movement in our body language. It has the capacity to express things which words cannot.
G Dance for me is everything. Is not just a job, I enjoy every minute of it.
If you could go back in time to any era that represents a certain dance, which one would you choose and why?
K I would love to go back to either the Fred Astaire era, as there was such romance about dance in those times. Or maybe the 40s when Lindy Hop was bursting onto the scene, as it’s such an energetic style.
G Jive for me is very inspirational. I especially like the era it comes from.
How does dancing make you feel?
K Dance is the means to express myself, enjoy myself and entertain. A lot of people think dance should only be for yourself and it’s not about the audience, but I love entertaining the audience when I dance.
G Dancing is freedom of expression.
How did you know you wanted to be a dancer?
K I’ve always danced without really making a decision about it, but later in life it was only when I was on the brink of quitting and saw Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands that I fully realised it was my passion.
G Since I was a child. I had nothing, I came from a humble family, but I never give up. I followed my dream to become a dancer and I make my passion work.
Have you ever wanted to do anything else?
K I had many dreams of being a WWE wrestler, but that was never going to happen! I’d still love to explore acting more.
G As all boys I love football, but I would never change it with ballroom.
Do you have any advice for people who want to start dancing?
K Always remember why you dance. Don’t get caught up in the competitive nature of it and the obsession with being a perfect technical dancer. It always comes down to enjoyment, expression and entertainment.
G Yes. Everyone should dance, it makes you feel better, is good for body and mind and there is no age limit! Lastly, Kevin, will you be bringing your Glitterball trophy on tour..?
K Haha, well Nic, the executive producer of Burn the Floor wants me to bring it, so we’ll see.