Grazed, burnt and bruised - but Flashdance is worth it for Strictly's Joanne Clifton

Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens -  Credit Brian Hartley
Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens - Credit Brian Hartley

Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton says she has achieved all that she wanted to achieve in dancing.

Now she is relishing new challenges in her new career in musical theatre. And so far, so good. Very good, in fact.

She’s currently touring the country in Flashdance – The Musical (Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, September 6-9), and she’s already got the next two shows after that lined up, one over Christmas and another UK tour next year.

As for Flashdance, she’s loving every minute: “I could have guessed from the title, but I hadn’t realised there would be so much dancing in it! And it is the opposite to what I usually do. It is a lot of 80s street dance, hip hop, things that I have never done before. I am a ballroom dancer.

“But I think if you have trained as a dancer, which I have, you pick up stuff quite quickly, but I have picked up a few injuries. In the second show, I popped my calf muscle, and I have got bruises and grazes and burns all over. It is doing the floor slides that does it when you are wearing fishnet tights!

“But it is brilliant. At the end of the show, there is a mega-mix, and everyone in the audience is up and dancing. It is such a high-energy dance show, it is just brilliant to do. I didn’t know if I would enjoy it or not. It is obviously a dream job for a dancer, but it is the opposite to what I have ever done before.”

Not just in the dancing, but in the character as well. In her past three musical-theatre shows, she has played the quirky, comedy character – Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, a character version of Marilyn Monroe and “in my first one, a prostitute who didn’t even have a name.”

But in Flashdance, she is tackling an altogether more serious character – though of course, the show is still plenty of fun.

Flashdance - The Musical tells the inspiring story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional dancer. When a romance complicates her ambitions, she harnesses it to drive her dream.

“She is a very, very determined young woman who has gone through a lot in her life. In order to save up to become a dancer, she becomes a welder. That’s the only job she can get, and she is working in a very male environment. She has got to be strong.”

Joanne can relate to her.

“But I relate to her in a different way. Her dream is to become a dancer, but she didn’t get all the training. I became a dancer and I got the training. But now my dream is musical theatre, and any money I can spare, I put into singing and acting lessons. Like her with her dancing, musical theatre is what I want to do…”

Tickets for Flashdance – The Musical (6-9 September) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre box office on 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833.

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