Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Behind the limelight
Clare Turton is a professional dancer and choreographer who has worked with acts such as Take That, Pink, Ricky Martin, Cher and the Spice Girls. In 2000 she auditioned for Tina Turner’s live show, and has been with her ever since. She is now Tina’s ‘dance captain’, and performs with her as her lead dancer.
“I’ve been with Tina since 2000, doing corporate gigs and shows. I was working as a dancer and Tina was promoting the single ‘When the Heartache is Over‘. I sent in my audition tape, she looked at all of the tapes and chose three of us. I’ve been with her [on and off] ever since.
I’ve never had the loyalty she shows from any other artist. When she brings you into the camp and allows you into the family, it’s such a beautiful thing. Other artists are wonderful too of course- I’d been devastated when Take That split, because I really wanted to dance with them growing up. So when they reformed and I danced with them it was surreal, they’re really sweet guys. Tina spoils you though, a lot of artists you work with are very insular onstage, they do their job but never interact with anyone else. You’re just the backing dancers. Tina’s very engaged, she’ll give you a cheeky smile, share a moment with you, and those moments are so precious.
Lots of people are sceptical. They think the dancers do the hard work. But there’s never any inconsistency in Tina’s performance. Every single night she gives the same level of energy and professionalism. So when you’re working with someone like that and witnessing that, it pushes you a little bit harder. Even if you feel tired, and you’re muscles are sore, you think well she never takes it easy, so you don’t either. It’s so much fun. There’s so much camaraderie, and that comes from Tina as well. She’s a really cool boss. She’s a perfectionist and rightly so, and that filters right down the crew, so everyone is very particular about their role. She’s hands on with everything, from the set, to the choreography, to the music. Everything is reported to her because she knows that even the smallest thing is a vital element in the whole show.
It’s normal for artists to come in for rehearsals and go at half pace because they’re saving themselves for the show. But as soon as Tina comes in she’s singing and doing the dance routines full on, all the time. She has such a vitality for life and it’s so inspirational. Nothing gets under her skin, she’s so matter of fact about everything.
You get some women in the audience who are really supportive and love us straight away. Then you get women who are a bit tentative. You see them nudging their husbands, “What are you looking at?”. In the hot pants and bras we can’t hide, you’ve got to have tough skin to repel the death stares! But then they come round and everyone ends up having a brilliant time.
[Sometimes it’s when things don’t go to plan that you can tell a real star] One night, her shoe came off. These are the moments when I look at her and I think, you’re so amazing. Her shoe came off and no one really noticed, because she still stood there, talking to the audience. Then one of the guys onstage placed the shoe in front of her, like a Cinderella moment, and she slipped her foot back in and carried on with the show. Pink does that sort of thing all the time, forgetting the words, laughing, and starting again.
Tina’s so relaxed, I have no idea how she does it. I’m trying to work that one out. And when I find out I’m hoping to apply that to myself!”