Kevin Clifton is riding high once again on Strictly Come Dancing with his 2014 partner Frankie Bridge.
The two have formed a winning partnership finishing in third place after dancing for the first two weeks. Frankie has proven to be a beautiful Ballroom dancer and she’s great at Latin too.
We caught up with Kevin ahead of tonight’s Movie Week to talk about the series so far, find out what we can expect from their powerful Paso Doble, and to discuss Frankie’s confidence.
For week 2 you and Frankie performed the Charleston which you fused with elements of the jive. How do you feel it went?
I thought it went really well. I was really happy with Frankie and so proud of her. I thought she danced it brilliantly and put not only a lot of energy and technique into it but a lot of character into it. When we got to the judges their talking point was the fact that it was a fusion with the theme of the 50s rock’n’roll feel and the Charleston. We took a bit of a risk on that because we thought it would be a good concept and a fun number to do. Obviously they talked about that but at the same time the judges were saying they really enjoyed the number and it seemed to work. I was just really proud of how Frankie did.
You equalled your week 1 score and ended up in third place on the leaderboard after the first two live shows. Are you both pleased with how you’ve done so far?
Oh definitely yeah. It was brilliant. You do want to keep improving all the time but for week 1 the waltz was a great dance for Frankie. Just to be able to equal that was great because Frankie wasn’t as confident going into the Charleston. She said to me that she wanted to avoid the Charleston because she didn’t think she’d be very good at it. When we ended up doing it for week 2 she was really nervous about it. She was worried that she wasn’t going to be able to bring out the big performance for it because the waltz is a little more downplayed and softer which is more like how Frankie is in character. She was worried about the performance side of it but I thought she did an amazing, amazing job! Getting the same score for it we’re really happy about.
From the conversations we’ve had so far this series it sounds like Frankie really battles with her confidence and believing in how good she is. Is it a good thing that she’s not over-confident at this stage?
I think she’s very critical of herself and very hard on herself. She watches it back and I’ll have done a day with her and I’ll be blown away by how much she’s learnt, how hard she’s worked and how much she’s managed to achieve and she’ll look at it and say ‘no but I look rubbish doing this, this doesn’t look right or I look awful.’ I’m always saying ‘you’re doing great’ but she says ‘I don’t think I can sell that bit or bring out the performance there.’
At first I was worried and thought maybe it’s true that she can’t perform it and that it was something I was going to really have to work on. I think it’s more that she’s just very hard on herself. It’s that that makes her, by the time we get to the end of the week, really want to drive the performance as much as she can. She’s not happy otherwise.
Tonight you and Frankie will be dancing the Paso Doble. What can we expect from the routine?
We’re doing the Paso Doble to America from West Side Story. West Side Story is for any dance sort of our bible. It’s the dance movie for us all and the choreography in it is amazing. I was really excited to be doing a number from it. America is one of the most famous songs in it and it’s gone down in history as this great number. In terms of the piece of music I was really excited but it’s not traditional Paso timing. It was a challenge choreographically but also it breaks away slightly from that bull fight feel of a traditional Paso where everything is quite aggressive; this is slightly more fun. It is bold and aggressive but it’s more fun of a number and I have to bring out the bolder side of Frankie this week. In week 1 she was very sweet, soft and elegant, week 2 she was having fun and it was a bit kooky, and now she has to bring out a much more dominating side.
You’re becoming well-known for taking risks. You did it with Susanna Reid last year and this year you’re raising the bar with Frankie…
Yeah, there’s no point in playing it safe. You want to make an impact and we really want to do the best we can do. We want to entertain people with what we do and we want people to vote for us really (laughs). We want to do something that people are going to remember and we decided we don’t want to play it safe and we want to take these gambles. There might be some weeks where it really just doesn’t pay off. If we get it right it could be spectacular.
Last week Frankie had an ankle injury but she’s fully recovered from that now. How has she been getting on in training this week?
The main thing really is getting into the character of it. We got the routine down and that was in place. We’ve had to do most of our work on the storytelling aspect of it and the characterisation of it. We had one point where she asked me to take her right through the dance and all the choreography, and talk about what it all means and what’s happening at each part of the routine in terms of the story. I think she found that easier to process and understand what’s going on so she can play her part.
It’s been about bringing out that over-confident almost arrogant Latino woman that she’s playing. She has to be powerful and pushing me away, which we’ve, found hard to find in training because Frankie is so nice and not like that at all. We’re always laughing in training so she can’t take me seriously half of the time. I’m supposed to be dominating and powerful and she’s laughing at me (laughs). That’s been the biggest challenge – finding that powerful character.
We’re sure she’ll pull it together for tonight. There can’t be any laughing in your Paso Doble routine!
(laughs) No, no we definitely can’t laugh!
What else can you tease about Movie Week? Will there be more spectacular pro dances to look forward to?
Yes! There’s a pro and celeb number that we’re doing together to There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, which is a great song. There’s been a lot of work on that. The pro number we’re doing is Step In Time from Mary Poppins. I’m playing Burt, the Dick Van Dyke character. It’s going to be a great show. There’s going to be people flying around the studio and lots of props!
Strictly Come Dancing continues at 6.30pm tonight on BBC One. Watch Kevin and Frankie’s week 2 Charleston below: