Joanne Clifton: Strictly comes to King’s Lynn

Joanne Clifton (photo: Samuel Black)

Joanne Clifton (photo: Samuel Black) - Credit: Samuel Black Photography.

Five times British ballroom champion and 2016 BBC Strictly Come Dancing winner Joanne Clifton talks about her excitement for the socially-distanced tour and shares a passionate plea to the government

Kevin and Joanne Clifton (photo: Strictly Theatre Co and Burn the Floor Ltd)

Kevin and Joanne Clifton (photo: Strictly Theatre Co and Burn the Floor Ltd) - Credit: Archant

Strictly champion siblings Kevin and Joanne Clifton are soon to head out on their autumn tour with an intimate show, An Evening with Kevin and Joanne Clifton, produced for a socially-distanced audience.

The talented brother and sister were originally due to tour together for the first time earlier this year in the world’s leading Ballroom show, BURN THE FLOOR, but unfortunately, the tour was unable to go ahead because of the pandemic. While the tour has been successfully rescheduled for next year, Kevin will now be headlining it without his sister, as Joanne’s has prior commitments.

Kevin and Joanne Clifton (photo: Strictly Theatre Co and Burn the Floor Ltd)

Kevin and Joanne Clifton (photo: Strictly Theatre Co and Burn the Floor Ltd) - Credit: Archant

One of the first productions of its kind, it comes at a tough time for the dance and entertainment industry with COVID-19 forcing the closure of many national shows and venues.“We are the first touring show,” says Joanne. “I’m just so grateful for our producers, who have organised all of this and created it in such a safe way.”

Joanne considers herself very lucky and fortunate to be performing during this current situation, “There are no words to explain how excited I am,” she says. “Yes, it’s going to be different and strange, but I reckon it will be very emotional after all these months. I just feel like I am at home when I am performing. For a few hours, you feel you have been teleported into a whole new world. It is a great way to escape my thoughts from everything that is going on in the real world.”

The socially-distanced show will take place at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange (operated by Alive West Norfolk) on November 15 for two showings. Their show has coincided at a time when the government has asked the creative sector to think about a new career change for those struggling to get work. Joanne agrees ‘the arts’ sector has been badly affected and yet it is so vital to the economy. “We take our careers very seriously, it is not a hobby,” says Joanne. “However, I think this is how the government is seeing us as and that is frustrating.”

“Our industry brings in so much money into the country, so why would we not be taken seriously! I have worked since I was four-years-old. The amount of sweat, hard work, broken toes, the sacrifices, and training that has got me to where I am today is so valuable. Why is this seen as a hobby? It is the same as someone training to become a lawyer, working in hospitality or any walk of life.”

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The dancing star adds, “We don’t have a continuous job, we have a contract for a certain amount of months. Sometimes performers can go without theatre work for more than two years so they have to work in a cafe, supermarket, a bar, etc. We are doing all these other jobs at the same time. What else do you want us to do?”

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