Strictly Dances – From Concept To Completion


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By Kevin Clifton. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Fresh from his success in the Children In Need Strictly Come Dancing 2019 Special (which Kevin and his partner, Maisie Smith won!), Kevin takes time out of his busy schedule to chat about his creative process. How exactly does he turn an idea into a dance performance? That’s the question that he is asked the most often.

In this special episode, Kevin takes you through his method of turning a dream into reality; everything from musical choices and production design to choreography, and the importance of making his partners happy.


  • Kevin has won almost all of the famed Strictly Glitterballs now. The only one left for him to win is the Christmas Glitterball, which he hopes to lift this year with Debbie McGee as his partner.
  • Kevin keeps constant notes when he hears a song that he4 thinks would be good for Strictly, or if he comes up with an interesting concept for a dance style.
  • Dance styles and songs need to suit the partner that Kevin finds himself with. This can be a thorough process of really getting to know the person as much as possible. His partner needs to enjoy themselves, and getting to know them properly is essential.
  • All ideas need to be channelled through the “Dance Team”, which comprise set designers, production designers and musicians. This department is expansive and constantly working to reinvent the show each week.
  • Performances are always a two-way conversation between the dance duo and the production team. Ideas are never forced on anyone.
  • Even the ending of the song itself makes a huge difference. The song always needs a “button”, a climactic note that sends an audio signal to the audience that the song is over, and which also communicates a sense of closing energy. What should be avoided is a fade-out.
  • The moment a show’s taping is over on a Saturday night, Kevin must begin work on next week’s show, and also the following week’s. Choreography is something Kevin concentrates on intensely. Many dancers work differently, but Kevin pores over the music, searching for interesting elements that can help shape his dances.
  • By Tuesday, Kevin and his partner will be working on the core principles of the dance for the weekend. This involves explaining the way that they will connect and the way they will move.
  • Kevin also has to be part of the conversation when it comes to technical decisions, such as camera movements and props. These are all part of the dance’s script.
  • Costumes and the live performance by the Strictly band are the final elements decided on, before a full rehearsal of the show itself on Saturday afternoon, mere hours before the show airs live on the BBC.


’That would make a great jive, or that would make a great foxtrot’

‘You’re usually about two weeks ahead’

‘You’ll be selling ice-creams…'

’That bang on the end is what I call the button’

‘I start to think of the general dynamics of the music’

‘What is the imagery of this number?’

’That’s the reason that I like to get the routine into their muscle memory’

‘By that time we’ve run the routine so many times that hopefully it doesn’t feel new'

‘Check your earrings. Check your flies!'


Kevin Clifton is a professional dancer who has been performing & competing at the highest level for over a decade. Kevin has worked on shows like 'Burn the floor' & 'Rock of Ages' to 'Strictly Come Dancing' one of the biggest TV shows in the UK which Kevin won in 2018.


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15 episodes