As part of our #ScrumsOrSequins campaign, we caught up with Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton. He talked to us about how he got into dance, what he would be doing if he hadn’t pursued it as a career and who he thinks are the ones to watch in this year’s Strictly!
A dancer is not the typical boy’s career, such as a policeman or a fireman, which boys are often encouraged to pursue from a very young age. Did you face any negative reactions to your career choice? How old were you when you realised you wanted to be a dancer?
I started dancing when I was about 4 years old as my parents run a dance school. I was always around dance so I guess as a young boy I was never really aware if any of my friends had any sort of opinion on it. I knew I enjoyed dancing so I think I always knew that it was what I wanted to do. At secondary school I did face a little bit of teasing from some friends and at first became nervous about telling people much about it but if anything I then quite quickly learned the power of making fun of myself. I found that if I made fun of myself before anyone else did then it took their power away and they just realised that actually it was something I really enjoyed. After that it sort of became a more interesting side of me than a negative one.
You have been a successful dancer for many years and joining strictly in 2011! When you initially started on this road were you ever embarrassed to discuss your dreams with your peers?
I never really discussed with my peers exactly what I wanted to achieve. The more important thing was more that I enjoyed it. They knew I wanted to dance for a living and they probably never really understood exactly what that meant in terms of achievements. Once they knew I was serious about it though nobody bothered me about it.
Are you ever compared to your female colleagues? Do you ever feel as though you have to prove yourself?
If anything the dance industry is very happy about seeing boys get into dance and will do an awful lot to support them. If anything my feeling of always having to prove myself came mostly from being compared to the other boys. I’ve never been the tallest lad or had leading man good looks so a lot of people have often assumed I might not be good enough. I still to this day have to battle this and keep having to prove myself as a dancer.
We all know dance is a very good form of exercise, what would you say are the health benefits for children?
Just being generally healthy and fit is always an amazing thing. For me it helped me be better with sports. I always had lots of energy and could play with my friends for a long time. Also, I think it gives children focus and can be very rewarding which I am 100% certain has a positive effect on schoolwork and studying. The more I danced and felt good about it the better I did in school, just as much as sports can have the same effect.
What do you think you’d be doing if you hadn’t pursued a career as a dancer?
If I hadn’t continued in dancing I think I would have gone into writing of some kind. Maybe writing novels or writing for a magazine or newspaper. Something creative. I was always too small to be a WWE wrestler!!
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career in dance, boys and girls?
For anyone wanting to pursue a career in dance, remember to first and foremost enjoy every moment of it. Dance is there to inspire, excite and entertain. Don’t get too caught up in trying to be the most ‘perfect’ dancer to satisfy or tick the right boxes of other people. There is no such thing as perfection in art.
And, because we all LOVE strictly here at JoJo, apart from you and Kellie who are the ones to look out for on this year’s show?
I would say we are in for some great entertainment from Jeremy Vine and my wife Karen. I think Peter Andre has a lot of potential to be good.