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What a Feeling for Strictly TV dance star Joanne Clifton as her stage musical dreams come true

The iconic Flashdance image re-created on stage by Strictly star Joanne Clifton
The iconic Flashdance image re-created on stage by Strictly star Joanne Clifton
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Getting drenched by an entire tank of water is certainly one way to keep cool on stage in this heatwave summer!

That’s what happens every show to former Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton in the iconic water scene from the stage version of Flashdance, which is at Sheffield Lyceum next week.
Joanne plays the young welder and wannabe professional dancer Alex first seen in the hit 1980s movie whose big song What a Feeling has become a pop classic.
The dancer who stepped away from Strictly stardom to break into musical theatre said appearing in Flashdance was “an absolute dream come true. We’ve been doing the show since since August last year and I’m in it until October.
“I still don’t get tired of it, although I get physically tired. I absolutely love it. It’s such an uplifting show.
“Right at the end there’s the mega mix and the audience will get up and dance.”
The film’s star Jennifer Beals had three stand-in dancers to perform for her and Jo doesn’t find it easy, despite a lifetime of dancing.
“For this show it’s so many styles of dancing. I’m finding myself doing pop stuff, rolling on the floor. That was hard at the beginning to learn that.
“I was knackered and barely could move, you have to get those muscles prepared.
“Also dancing in my knickers, I hated that at the beginning but I’m alright now.”
Jo explained her decision to leave Strictly, where she had become a firm favourite in just two seasons, after her victory with TV presenter Ore Oduba in 2016.
“I’d always wanted to do musical theatre and once I’d managed to win Strictly, luckily, I thought ‘there’s no time like the present’ to concentrate fully on it.
“After winning, the only way you can go is down. To win two years in a row doesn’t happen.
“I feel like I achieved what I wanted to do in the dance world, anyway. I thought, ‘let’s have a complete change’ and opened a new chapter.”
Jo, whose elder brother and childhood dance partner Kevin is still in the TV show, started out as a child in Waltham, Grimsby, being taught Latin and ballroom at the school run by her parents, former world champions Keith and Judy Clifton.
She has held national, European and world dance titles.
Jo said she used to have acting and singing lessons in Grimsby and has been keen to get more experience as she moves away from purely dance into wider musical theatre roles.
She made her debut last year, starring in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Jo said: “The best things are just performing every night in front of live audiences. You don’t know what’s going to happen, someone could forget a line.
“I just love getting that feeling from an audience back.
“I’m not so comfortable as I was in Strictly, I’ve got to learn a character, I don’t just get to play myself. I was embarrassed and shy with the camera, though. I do get really nervous on camera being myself.
“In terms of singing and acting, I’ve always loved it. That’s the best part for me.”
She would love to play Roxie in Chicago, Janet in Rocky Horror Show or even Rose in Gypsy when she’s old enough.
“I’m training in TV acting and doing other exciting things with my co-star, Ben Adams,” said Jo. “We’ve got another exciting project coming up. All will be revealed soon!”

Flashdance is at Sheffield Lyceum from August 6 to 11. Box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Joanne Clifton says she is used to dancing in her knickers now!

Joanne Clifton says she is used to dancing in her knickers now!