Joanne Kirsty Clifton is a dancer, actress, presenter, and singer from England. She is best known for her tenure on the British show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and becoming one of its winners in 2016. She is also the 2013 World Ballroom Showdance Championship winner. Furthermore, she has received the top prizes at the European Professional Ballroom Championship and World Dancesport Games. A Lincolnshire native, Clifton was introduced to dancing by her parents, who were dancers themselves. In the initial years, her partner was her brother, but they later decided to specialise in different dance forms. She was educated at East Ravendale Primary School and Caistor Grammar School. In 2000, she went to Italy to receive training at Team Diablo. Between April and May 2014, Clifton was part of the cast of the live dance show ‘Burn the Floor’. In 2017, she portrayed the titular character Millie Dillmount in the UK tour of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. She served as an expert presenter on ‘Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two’ in 2015. At present, she is essaying the lead role of Janet Weiss in the UK tour of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’.
In 2000, Joanne Clifton relocated to Bologna, Italy, for training with Team Diablo, which is Europe’s biggest dance school. One of her earliest partners was Marco Cavallaro. In amateur rankings, they climbed up to the sixth spot. After she began participating in professional competitions, she was picked to pair up with Paolo Bosco in 2011.
She is a five-time British Champion and three-time Italian Champion. In 2012, she won the Professional Ballroom European Championship. A year later, she was named the winner at the Professional World Dancesport Games Championship.
In 2013, Joanne and Bosco had the honour of being amongst ten other professional dancing couples who were asked to perform at the Kremlin. In 2013, she and Bosco claimed the top prizes at the World Dancesport Games in Taiwan and the World Professional Ballroom Showdance Championships in Merano, Italy. They continued to participate in competitions until his retirement on December 15, 2013. Four days later, she too quit competitive dancing.
From April to May 2014, she performed alongside her brother Kevin in the live dance show ‘Burn the Floor’. They staged shows in Australia and Japan. In 2015, she made her musical theatre debut in a production of ‘Face the Music’ at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre. For her performance as “Street Walker” in the production, she was nominated for an Offie award. In 2016, she portrayed the title character, Marilyn Monroe, in ‘Norma Jean The Musical’. In early 2017, she led the cast of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’, portraying the lead role of Millie Dillmount in the show’s UK tour. From December 2017 to January 2018, Clifton essayed the role of Dale Tremont in the musical ‘Top Hat’. A fringe rendition that was performed at the Gatehouse London, the production earned rave reviews. Critics praised Clifton’s performance in particular. She is set to play the lead role of Alex Owens in the UK Tour of ‘Flashdance the Musical’.
Clifton made her first appearance on BBC One’s dance reality show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in its 11th series in 2013. In 2014, it was announced that Clifton was going to join the 12th series as a professional dancer. Her partner that series was English radio DJ and television presenter Scott Mills. They received an average score of 18.2 and finished the series at the 11th place. On November 6, 2014, she made an appearance on BBC Radio 1's ‘Innuendo Bingo’. In the following series, she was kept as a member of the professional line-up but was not granted a celebrity partner. However, she was one of the competitors in the ‘Children in Need’ special with actor Stephen McGann and later received the top accolade at the Christmas Special with the series 9 winner Harry Judd.
In the 14th series (2016) of the show, she came back to the main roster and partnered up with the TV presenter Ore Oduba. They accumulated an average score of 35.7 and went on to claim the first place that season.Clifton subsequently left ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in 2017 to focus on her career in musical theatre. In 2020, she is slated to return to the cast of ‘Burn the Floor’ and perform alongside her brother on a UK tour.
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Family & Personal Life
Born on October 26, 1983, in Waltham, Lincolnshire, England, Joanne Clifton is the daughter of Keith and Judy Clifton. Her parents are also dancers and former world champions. Her brother is the professional dancer and series-16 winner of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, Kevin Clifton. Keith and Judy had set up Clifton Dance Academy, where both siblings received the initial training. They started dancing together when they were about six years old. When they were teenagers, they chose to train in different dance forms, so they would not compete against each other. Having been trained in ballroom and Latin since the age of four, Joanne picked ballroom while Kevin picked Latin.
Between 2016 and 2017, she was in a relationship with Joseph Edward-Bader.