KEVIN Clifton’s career projectory is a life lesson.

No matter how much we think we can choreograph our steps, work out moves, life has a habit of stepping on our toes.

Or leading us to where we wanted to be in the first place.

Grimsby-born Clifton, in Glasgow next week with his first ever starring role in stage musical Rock of Ages, can’t quite believe he’s set to play a rock star on the King’s Theatre stage.

He smiles as he retraces his steps, from competitive ballroom dancer to Strictly professional and on to musical theatre.

“I once quit competition dancing,” says the 36-year-old, smiling. “After years of it I wanted to be involved in dance which told stories and had a point. I didn’t want dance to be ‘Look at me and how I can point my toes.'”

In 2008, Clifton joined theatre dance company Burn The Floor, which allowed for lots of free expression and great sexy dancing.

The dancer went on to audition for Strictly (who wouldn’t want the fame/success that comes from the biggest TV show on telly?) but was unsuccessful.

“The first time I auditioned I was a big rock fan and a Goth, with long black hair and black fingernails and black eye make-up,” he recalls, with a self-deprecating laugh. “They clearly had no need for someone like me.”

The following year he’d grown out of the Alice Cooper look, and now looked like a dancer. But he was turned down again. Coincidentally, at this time he was set to audition as a dancer for Rock of Ages.

But then fate took a hand and Strictly called and decided they wanted him after all. He was a huge success, reaching four finals. Fast forward five years and he’s now won the Glitterball trophy with Stacey Dooley.

And then came the chance to join Rock of Ages.

“I saw a Tweet from a director Nick Winston I’d worked with in a dance show in the past which said he was doing Rock of Ages, and looking for dancers," he explained, grinning.

"I Tweeted back and said it sounded great. Nick then called me, and asked me to play Stacee Jaxx (The lead role, played by Tom Cruise in the 2012 movie).

“I said I was interested, and five days later went for an audition, acted out some scenes and sang Bon Jovi’s Dead Or Alive.”

It’s all worked out perfectly. But Clifton points out that while life sometimes pulls you along, Ann Widdecombe-like, there are times you can help create your own dance.

“Sometimes I feel you’re pulled in a direction you just have to go with. For example, this time around on Strictly I felt I really should be partnered with Stacey Dooley and I pleaded with the producers to make it happen. I don’t normally do this. Dancers don’t really have a say. Producers will talk to the celebrities and they can have a preference, but they don’t ask the pros.

“But I just felt it had to be Stacey." He smiles; "And we won.”

Clifton wants to win. He's competing since he pulled on his first pair of dance shoes. But what’s it like to be partnered up with someone who’s not a natural dancer, like Susan Calman?

“I guess you just feel it’s part of the show," he shrugs. "But I was helped by Anton’s (Du Beke) advice when I first appeared on the show. He said ‘The worst thing you can do is put a priority on winning. It’s about doing the best you can do with that partner. Entertain everyone’.

“And I had a great time with Susan on the show. She was fantastic.”

To the point you’ve had your body tattooed in dedication to the Scots comedy star?

“I know,” he says, grinning in agreement. “It came about as a bet. She said if we got to Blackpool with the show she’d get a 'I love Grimsby’ tattoo. I agreed I'd do the same. Then it came my turn - and I had it done on live TV last week and now I have 'I love Glasgow' on my foot.”

Another political question; what of when trained dancers win, Kevin? Isn’t it a bit unfair when the pre-formed get to shine?

“That’s the way it’s cast every year. It’s a mix of people, and the producers do like some great dance displays. Yes, it’s about the journey for those who’ve never danced, like Stacey, but I know people who prefer the later stages, where you see the great dancers such as Faye (Tozer.)

He adds; “And some like to watch to see someone struggle and they can have a laugh.”

Clifton laughs easily and it’s not hard to see why he’s become one of Strictly’s most popular dancers. But there’s another side. He’s ambitious. He’s prepared to graft. And that's to Rock of Ages' benefit, this story of how a young couple's dreams are dependent upon a rock star and his band playing a final gig in their bar in an effort to raise money.

“I’ve had singing lessons to help me with this show. As soon as I got this I took as many lessons as I could. There are some real big rock songs in this show ( the likes of Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Keep On Loving You and Don’t Stop Believing) and you can’t just belt them out for eight shows a week. You have to be technically prepared.”

Has it felt odd becoming a pupil? When on Strictly he’s the teacher.

“Definitely. And there’s pressure attached. Everyone knows me for dancing, but I’ve been doing the best to learn all I can and I'm loving the process.”

It was almost pre-ordained that Kevin would become a star dancer given his parents were ballroom dance teachers.

“I didn’t even choose the career,” he reflects. “Aged four, I’ve been told I just sort of began to join in at the back of my parents’ dance school.”

But he’s loved it. In spite of the white-hot spotlight that comes with Strictly, the media coverage that comes when being connected to the Strictly relationship curse, when linked to Louise Redknapp?

“It used to bother me,” he said of publicity, “and I really don’t know where the stories come from. But as long as people don’t say anything really bad about me I can’t complain.”

Now, he’s about to play a rock god in Glasgow, who has a Glasgow tattoo. It’s hard to say whether he should be applauded for his lauding of this great city? Or is he daft for agreeing to such a mad bet?

“Those are the thoughts that are going through my head as well,” he says, laughing out loud. “But the main thought is I think I’m a lunatic.”

Rock of Ages, the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, February 22-26.