Joanne puts Blackpool’s ballroom blitz in the past

Glitterball champion Joanne Clifton with her Flashdance co-star Ben Adams at Blackpools glitterball
Glitterball champion Joanne Clifton with her Flashdance co-star Ben Adams at Blackpools glitterball

As a ballroom dancer Joanne Clifton has spent a lifetime gliding across dancefloors, like the famous Blackpool Tower and Empress ballrooms, in elegant glittering gowns.

Now she’s ‘rolling round the floor in her knickers’ in Flashdance The Musical.

The dancer-turned-stage-star is starring in the production at the Opera House until Saturday, back in the resort where some of her greatest successes have taken place.

“I have been to Blackpool every year my whole life,” Joanne said. “So it’s great to be here for two whole weeks, although weird to be in the Winter Gardens but in the theatre and not the ballroom.

“The ballroom is like a second home, I won five British championships in there. It’s the British National Championships a fortnight after we finish Flashdance - and Strictly from the Tower that weekend too, so it’s a shame I’ll miss those.”

Joanne took part in three series of Strictly Come Dancing, and partnered presenter Ore Oduba to the glitterball trophy last year before standing down to concentrate on her stage career.

She says watching the results show home alone on a Sunday on her day off from Flashdance is the one time she really misses Strictly.

“Watching it by myself was a bit strange,” she said. “But as soon as I was back at Flashdance on Monday I was OK; I love singing and acting and doing this style of dance.

“I had kind of done and achieved all I wanted to in my ballroom career and in Strictly. Ore and I didn’t expect to win, but we did.”

Speaking of this year’s dancing celebrities, Joanne’s tipping Alexandra Burke and Aston Merrygold as finalists, as well as Gemma Atkinson as the ‘dark horse’ who gets better every week and ‘surprise’ success story comedian Susan Calman.

“The first week, I watched and thought ‘Bless her’, then she’s been paired with my brother and they are smashing it every week - and I don’t like complimenting my brother!” she said.

Flashdance sees Joanne play Alex Owens, the apprentice welder who longs to be a dancer fighting for a chance to audition for a top college.

“I wasn’t sure I would like it in Flashdance,” Joanne admits. “I haven’t had to do a serious role before, it has all been funny character roles - but I’m loving it. Alex has so many emotions, happy-go-lucky, romantic and sexy, energetic, so I don’t miss being the funny one.

“Flashdance is a massive film, so there is pressure but I love that pressure to pull it off. I do try to make it my own. I watched Flashdance once after I got the job and then not again.

“I could never be Jennifer Beals. I have been doing waltes, tangoes and foxtrots in long dresses, now I’m rolling round the floor in my knickers doing hip hop.”