The stage is lit, laughter and clapping echo through the theatre, and behind the curtains sits choreographer Nathan Clarke smiling and recalling his busy year at the biggest sporting and athletic event in the world.
Originally working as part of Cabaret and live shows for Bor Productions, the Australian born dancer was graced to work on the Olympic closing ceremony and with some of his favourite idols.
He said: “During summer last year I was lucky enough to work on both closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, where I was an Associate Director and worked side by side with director Kim Gavin.
“I have worked closely with Kim for the last seven years and was honoured to join him again in this project.
“It was incredible getting the chance to work with some of my biggest idols like Annie Lennox, Rihanna, Jay Z and Coldplay.
“Annie Lennox was so professional and talented, and truly the best act I worked with during the Olympics.
“She had a great stage presence and a lovely character to match.
“The hardest thing with some of the other performers was getting them on board and to work with us.”
Nathan was forced to work for a full year, covering all aspects of the one-day closing ceremony.
He says: “We began 12 months before the actual ceremony date in August, workshopping and creating ideas with the assistance of 20 of London’s best professional dancers.
“We spent some six months solely on rehearsals and three months working with the volunteers.
“It was probably the trickiest challenge of my life helping create the spectacular and trying to get all the volunteers to dance at a professional level. It was incredibly tough and long but personally very rewarding.”
Nathan worked alongside film director Danny Boyle who masterminded the Olympic opening ceremony.
Says Nathan: “Danny was working in the office next door to us, and minus a couple of two-minute conversations in the corridor we didn’t see much of each other.”
As part of organising, Nathan was sworn to secrecy about his involvement in the London 2012 Olympics.
He explains: “It was all very hush-hush, I couldn’t tell my family or my partner about what was going to happen or pass any details about the closing ceremony to fellow organisers like Danny. If I hadn’t worked on the Olympics then I would never be where I am now, it was the best and most rewarding experience of my life.
“It was truly a once in a lifetime experience working with a cast of 4,000 performers and volunteers, I don’t think it’ll ever be topped.”
Born and raised in Down Under, Nathan began dancing at a very young age including performances with Take That, Elton John and Michael Buble.
“I moved to the UK 13 years ago and though I miss my family who still live there, I’ve made a home here and my job is much more challenging working around the country from London to Blackpool.”
Equally experienced in choreography, he has been participating in theatre and Cabarat and has been involved with Channel 5’s Don’t Stop Believing, Comic Relief, BBC Children In Need and The Royal Variety Performance.
He has also worked on the creation of Take That’s Progress Live European and UK tour, Katherine Jenkins Believe tour, The Nolan Sisters Tour and Darcy Bussel’s Viva La Diva Tour.
“I had great fun working with Take That, the lads are lovely people, good dancers and great fun.
“The Nolan Sisters was another good tour and a good chance to test my abilities.”
Now in Blackpool, Nathan has been choreographing two new stage productions at The Grand Theatre.
He said: “It has been a fresh challenge working in Lancashire and I love Blackpool, it’s a great place.
“Step Back In Time leads the audience on a musical journey through the music of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.”
The fast-paced show features music from some of the greatest artists, including Elvis, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees and Queen.
Ooh La La is a French burlesque show packed with lavish costumes which brings the best of Parisian style entertainment to Blackpool.
Comedy legends Cannon & Ball have returned to the limelight and are hosting both productions.
“Out of the two, Ooh La La is my favourite: it is much more risqué and has very sexy and sultry choreography which I’ve kept classic and stylised.
“The dancers in Ooh La La and Step Back In Time are very hard-working and its been a privilege to work with them.
“From taps to kicks, they’re disciplined and in the right mind to put on a great show.
“On September 9 we are leaving the UK taking the cast to Slovenia with a slight twist on the show we’ve been performing in Blackpool.”
Nathan has been called back for the second year to BBC’s hit TV talent show The Voice where contestants sing to impress the likes of 4 famous singers and coaches.
He says: “I’m working alone as the Creative Director for The Voice again this year and I start work on the new series in 3 weeks.
“Working in the Olympics helped me get noticed for The Voice, I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”
As Creative Director for the talent show, Nathan will be responsible for all things visual, from the stage to dancers, lights and equipment that the audience can see: “Auditions run all the way through to December and after the new year the live shows begin.
“I’m really excited about returning to the show, I just hope I keep getting the call backs!”
Don’t miss out to see Nathan’s recent efforts in Ooh La La or Step Back In Time with tickets at £15 for each show.
Both productions are running until Saturday (September 7). For more information or tickets visit www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or call the Grand Theatre box office on 01253 743339.