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© 2019 Mike Marsland LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 26: (L-R aback row) Giovanni Pernice, Neil Jones, Gorka Marquez, Aljaz Skorjanec, Johannes Radebe and Anton Du Beke, (L-R advanced row) AJ Pritchard, Kevin Clifton and Graziano Di Prima appear the “Strictly Come Dancing” barrage actualization red carpeting at Television Centre on August 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage) Kevin Clifton is painting a account of what it was like to be a best amphitheater ballerina as a schoolboy. “I’m the kid who is axis up on Monday morning … one of the beeline kids in the year. With an orange close from a antagonism in Birmingham. And I attending like this because I do amphitheater dancing. With my sister. Who is in the year beneath me. And I’m at the age aback girls abound a bit faster than boys. So she is a bit taller than me at this point. So Mum and Dad accept absitively that it’s a acceptable abstraction for me to accept a perm so that my bristles stands up a bit, and I attending taller. And afresh the academy says: ‘Will you do a ball in assembly?’ And I say: ‘Er, all right. I’ll do a ball in my sparkly shirt and my architecture with my sister from the year below.’

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 Breathtaking Photographs of Nature (29 pics) - very nice photos of nature

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“All I capital was to be on the football team. You apprentice to booty the mick out of yourself. Which is, I suppose, how I became ‘Kevin from Grimsby’.”

Clifton is best accepted as “Kevin from Grimsby” because of Strictly Come Dancing, the actualization area his partnerships – with the actor Susan Calman, the accompanist Louise Redknapp and his acceptable division with the TV presenter Stacey Dooley in 2018 – fabricated him an admirers favourite as the able who is bottomward to earth, discreet and caring. The name came about because Bruce Forsyth already joked that he was disturbing to accent the names of the crop of new dancers: “Aljaž Skorjanec from Slovenia … Iveta Lukosiute from Lithuania. And, finally, a name I can say: Kevin from Grimsby.”

© 2019 MWE BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 16: Kevin Clifton apparent at the Strictly Come Dancing at Blackpool Tower Amphitheater 2019 on November 16, 2019 in Blackpool, England. (Photo by MWE/GC Images) Clifton abdicate the actualization beforehand this year to go on to bigger and bigger things – which are, of course, not accident because of Covid-19 and amusing distancing. This was declared to be the year aback “Kevin from Grimsby” became his own man, starring in musicals and West End shows. Now, he doesn’t apperceive aback he’ll ball in advanced of an admirers again. And he is already, he claims, “probably the best unfit I’ve anytime been”. (Although his ripped appearance, featuring a angry lockdown beard, doesn’t absolutely buck this out. These things are relative.)

Grimsby is still allotment of his life, though. Aback we accommodated – anxiously distanced at the collapsed that he shares in west London with Dooley, who is now his adherent – he has aloof alternate from visiting his parents for the aboriginal time in months. Keith and Judy Clifton (“four times British Latin American champions”) still run the Clifton Ball Academy in Grimsby. Their children, Kevin and Joanne, both all-embracing ball champions as accouchement and adults – as able-bodied as Strictly winners – booty pride of abode on the website.

The accommodation to abdicate Strictly never seems to be an accessible one. The dancers all appetite to win and afresh leave on a high, but it never absolutely works out that way. After acceptable with Dooley in 2018, Clifton alternate to the actualization in 2019, partnered with Anneka Rice, but comatose out in anniversary three, his affliction result. Yet he went on to brilliant in the musicals Rock of Ages and The Wedding Accompanist (like his sister, he can sing and act as able-bodied as dance). Aback Clifton abdicate Strictly on 6 March, aloof afore Covid-19 hit the UK, it was to booty up his dream role in a civic bout of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical, directed by the Strictly adjudicator Craig Revel Horwood. The blind would accept been activity up in the abutting few weeks.

© 2020 Dave J Hogan LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 13: Kevin Clifton will brilliant as Scott Hastings in the UK bout of Strictly Amphitheater The Musical, based on the accident hit Baz Luhrmann blur on March 13, 2020 in London, England.The tour, directed by Craig Revel Horwood, bliss off in September this year and will comedy at theatres all over the UK until June 2021 (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for Strictly Amphitheater The Musical) This is the longest time in his activity he has gone after performing. Instead, his attraction with “podcasts, courses and absent to apprentice things” is active Dooley crazy, he says. “She was swapping belief with some friends: ‘How are you award lockdown with your partner?’ And she said: ‘Me and Kev don’t altercate – we get on able-bodied as mates as able-bodied as a couple. The alone affair I can accuse about is that sometimes he wants to accept a big chat about the attributes of consciousness. And, best of the time, I don’t appetite to accept a big chat about the attributes of consciousness.’”

Lockdown has fabricated a lot of us reflect on the gaps in our lives, and you get the faculty that at 37, he is arena catchup with himself. He has been demography online classes on writing. Masterclass (the video alternation whose adverts are consistently bustling up on Facebook) has been his saviour in lockdown: he has followed courses with the columnist David Mamet and children’s columnist RL Stine and has started autograph a children’s book about (guess what?) a boy who loves to dance.

Exhaustingly, alike in lockdown the abridged agriculture aberration is a connected affection in his life. Clifton says this is because: “Stace is a big name.” This is a fair assessment: Dooley is a badly accepted and photogenic BBC presenter. But the absorption in them as a brace is additionally abundantly because aback they danced on the actualization together, they denied they were in a relationship. This consistently fuels interest. Plus Clifton’s ex-wife, Karen Hauer, is additionally a ballerina on Strictly. Still, a year on, the fabricated belief booty their toll. “It’s abhorrent aback you feel as if the columnist are activity for you,” he says. “If you apprehend the tabloids, during this lockdown, Stacey has been pregnant, I’ve proposed to her, we’ve had big fights … It’s all been activity down. In reality, we are the best arid brace in the history of the world. I will be sitting actuality accomplishing my Mamet masterclass and saying: ‘What do you anticipate about consciousness?’ And Stacey does her assignment and afresh brand to sit and watch things like Selling Sunset on Netflix about acreage agents in LA. We don’t alike alcohol and there will be belief about bashed rages … We alcohol tea. I’m accepting acceptable at blank it.”

Perhaps the best arresting affair for him as a ballerina is the disability to plan. As theatres bankrupt in March, he was in call for Burn the Floor: Kevin vs Joanne, which was appointed for June and July. It’s now pencilled in for the autumn, a long-awaited befalling to accomplish with his sister, this time after a perm. “It was the actualization we’ve consistently dreamed of aback we were kids. Now we don’t apperceive what’s happening. We’re in talks about abutting year, but I don’t apperceive if Joanne will be accessible then.” He already got appointed for a huge all-embracing actualization (“which I can’t allocution about”) for 2022, alone to see that befalling accelerate abroad as the dates for Strictly Ballroom: The Musical bled into 2022. This is a bifold draft for performers. Not alone are they not able to assignment appropriate now, after commitments may additionally affray as shows are rescheduled.

All this charge leave him adulatory he was still active up to Strictly, which shows every assurance of activity ahead, with as-yet-to-be-defined break measures in place. “I can’t leave my sister aerial and dry, and go aback on Strictly,” he begins. “But I don’t know. Never say never.” He relents as anon as he has said this. “I’ve fabricated that accommodation [to leave Strictly]. And it would feel awe-inspiring if I aback went aback again.”

The allocation as “Kevin from Grimsby” ability accept been added acceptable if Clifton hadn’t already struggled with his character as a dancer. “I got to a point in my 20s aback I absolutely started to ask if this was aloof what my ancestors did. My grandparents were dancers as well. Three generations. Is this the ancestors thing? Or article I want? I was falling out of adulation with the antagonism scene. You had to comedy a game. The bodies who were anticipation were additionally coaches. So you accept to accomplish abiding you’ve had acquaint with this one or that one because afresh they’ve ‘seen’ you. You accept to ball ‘like this’ to get aboriginal abode …”

This is, er, the adventure of Scott in Baz Luhrmann’s blur Strictly Ballroom. “Yes! I had apparent Strictly Amphitheater aback I was 10, and he had become my hero. I capital to ball from my heart. I thought: ‘I don’t apperceive how important aboriginal abode is to me any more.’”

The untold adventure of this apple is that these best dancers are frequently accomplishing added jobs aback they are at the aiguille of their antagonism careers. “It was expensive. I was captivation bottomward added nine-to-five jobs to acquiesce it. I formed in telesales and in an office-stationery broad department. Yes, aback you get to the top at pro level, you can acquire appropriate money. But the better antagonism is the British Open Championships in Blackpool. It’s like Wimbledon is to tennis. If you came aboriginal in that competition, aback I was at the top, the award-winning money was £120.” A assignment with “the appropriate people” was added big-ticket than that.

“Everything was about accepting to the ambition of acceptable the competition. You chase the path, and you do not devious from the path. And it was activity well. You get the affirmation and the results. But it’s not just: ‘Make abiding you ball like this …’ It’s also: ‘Make abiding you ball in advanced of this actuality like this; accomplish abiding you are nice to this person.’ I would be thinking: ‘Why do this? So that I can authority up this artificial bays and win £120? Aback I didn’t appetite to advise at the end of it all? All I capital was to perform.” Also, he says, on some level, it stops you from growing up. “My mates got to leave home and go to university, and accomplish mistakes … And that shapes you as a person, rather than the actuality you are aback you are beneath your parents. I was still on that aisle in my 20s. My mum and dad were my coaches. I thought: ‘It’s not aloof that I appetite to accord up dancing. I appetite to become a absolutely altered person.’”

© 2020 Dave J Hogan LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 13: Kevin Clifton will brilliant as Scott Hastings in the UK bout of Strictly Amphitheater The Musical, based on the accident hit Baz Luhrmann blur on March 13, 2020 in London, England.The tour, directed by Craig Revel Horwood, bliss off in September this year and will comedy at theatres all over the UK until June 2021 (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for Strictly Amphitheater The Musical) Fortunately for his parents – who were, he says, consistently supportive, but afraid at times that he was “throwing it all away” – he went to see Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells. It showed him that there was a altered way to dance. It didn’t accept to be about a artificial trophy. Shortly afterwards, he was offered a role in Burn the Floor, an all-embracing touring actualization that gives a home to dancers who accept been accomplishing the antagonism ambit aback they were toddlers, and who appetite added abandon in their performance. It’s additionally a cat-and-mouse allowance for Strictly.

The aboriginal time he went up for Strictly, he was activity through a goth appearance and they alone him. “I had continued atramentous hair, atramentous eye makeup, atramentous fingernails, covering trousers. I acclimated to go about with a top hat and a cane. I absolutely absent ascendancy there for a minute. I was absolutely giving it all that: ‘Ballroom is rock’n’roll …’” He action at himself. His ball mentor, Jason Gilkison, a Strictly choreographer, told him he bootless the audience because “you attending like an idiot”. “I went aback the abutting year as a altered person: Pink shirt, Latin trousers, acute shoes.” They put him on the assets list, and he got the call: “You alpha on Monday with Susanna Reid.”

To be labelled “the nice guy abutting door” was article of a relief. But alone initially: “I’m never activity to be the tall, bronzed, able-bodied guy on the show, the one with the tattoos … That’s never activity to be me. As anon as Bruce Forsyth did the ‘Kevin from Grimsby’ thing, I thought: ‘I can aloof be me for a bit and get abroad with it.’ But I don’t appetite to be alone that.” Still demography the mick out of himself afore anyone abroad can, he adds: “Maybe there’s a allotment of me still aggravating to be a air-conditioned kid. Hopefully, Covid-19 is activity to go abroad at some point and acquiesce that.” Meanwhile, until the blind goes up again, there’s article actual acceptable cerebration of him sitting at home allurement Dooley how she is managing her alertness today.

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