Former Strictly champions Joanne and Kevin Clifton play Crawley and Portsmouth

Former Strictly champion Joanne Clifton simply cannot wait.

Former Strictly champions Joanne and Kevin Clifton
Former Strictly champions Joanne and Kevin Clifton

“I just can’t tell you how excited I am and how grateful I am.”

After all those long months of lockdown and uncertainty, she’s finally back in business, sharing the stage with her brother and fellow former Strictly champion Kevin for a series of An Evening With… dates. The tour opens at The Kings, Southsea on October 29 and plays The Hawth in Crawley on November 6 and 7.

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Offering an intimate show specifically produced for a socially-distanced audience, Joanne and Kevin will sing songs from their CD, tell stories of their dancing lives and perform some of their favourite ballroom and Latin dances with their professional dance partners.

They were due to tour together for the first time earlier this year in the world’s leading ballroom show Burn The Floor, but the tour had to be pulled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tour has been rescheduled to 2021, but Kevin will now be headlining it without his sister as Joanne’s prior commitments mean she is no longer available. So they’ve come up with a different tour for 2020 – a way to make sure that they finally get the chance to perform together.

“Having this tour, albeit socially distanced, gives us hope that we can get to do what we love doing one day. I am absolutely happy to do it. I am not nervous about it at all. They have done absolutely everything they can to make it safe, and I am really looking forward to it. It hasn’t been great. People have kept themselves busy putting on workshops on Zoom and with Zoom concerts. But it is not the same. You don’t hear the applause after the songs. But it was something.

“I am one of those people that like to stay positive and don’t like to admit if something is looking bad, but the worst thing about lockdown for us was that Burn The Floor was ready to go. We had been doing runs in the rehearsal room and literally from one day to the next everything stopped. I couldn’t believe it. It was so gutting and so upsetting. You tried to stay positive and then it was delayed and delayed; then it got to the point where it wasn’t going to happen.”

Even now, the guidelines are changing from day to day: “You have just got to try to keep positive, and I am so grateful to the producers for putting this show on.

“It has been more than 20 years since myself and Kevin have danced together. We danced together until Kevin was 15 and I was 14, and then we stopped. Doing a rumba together was a bit weird!

“And then we went our separate ways. He did more Latin. I did more ballroom. The first time we danced in the same room after that was on Strictly, but we never danced together. It was going to be great with Burn The Floor. In the rehearsals, we were just laughing. It was so lovely. We were dancing together, and we would just get the giggles.”

Since those early days of dancing together, Joanne reckons they have swapped personalities: “As a child, he was the more loud, outspoken, motor-mouth one. I was shy and introverted, and getting me to smile on the dance floor took years. I was this very scared little girl. I wasn’t competitive at all.

“But now Kevin is very chilled and laid back and I am the competitive one! I have no idea how that happened, but I suppose our lives took different paths.

“I went to Italy. I lived in Italy for 14 years from 16 to 30, and it was a very strict place, and I suppose that made me more competitive.

“But my brother has always been an inspiration to me. I hate saying it because I am competitive! But I have always looked up to him and have learnt from him. The way he performed has always inspired me. I thought I was done with ballroom dancing, but when I saw him in Burn The Floor, I realised that I wasn’t.”

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