Saturday, 10 May 2014

Huzzah!

It's Claudia! It's Claudia! Huzzah, it's Claudia!

It's been a crazy few years for Strictly fans, there's been much fun and randomness along the way, but we've also seen beloved pros leaving, a sea of props, horrendous song choices....the DANCE TROUPE...and then all of a sudden, we actually get something we want - who would have thought?!

Claudia, Claudia, we'll have to re-name the Tesspit. Claudia's Cave?

I'm genuinely surprised and happy that they've picked Claudia. Yes, we know she's the best for the job, but this is the year Simon Cowell comes back to X Factor, the year SCD needs to compete in the ratings more than ever and you'd worry they would go for some sort of headline-grabbing, big-money replacement for Bruce. Or, y'know, someone old-school and horrendous like Ronnie Corbett again (otherwise known as the worst EVER episode of SCD that makes me want to claw at my face whenever I think of it).

I'm also delighted that it's the two ladies fronting the show, whilst we all hoped for Claudia, there was a general acceptance it would be a man, and hurrah for the BBC for not going down that road. My you be blessed with many outraged columns in the Daily Mail, that's when you know you've done something right.

And now the time has come to say goodbye to Bruce, as much as there is love for Claudia, I will miss him. No one else had a Bruce. There's something to be said about the specialness of Strictly that came with Bruce, someone who's a kagillion years old and has been dancing around having a whale of a time for longer than we've all been alive. Tap-dancing with woolly mammoths. And despite it being such hard work, he loved how Strictly is live, and thankfully we get Claudia - someone else who could go off in any direction and say anything without warning and chase McFly off stage waving their arms like a lunatic. Once again, hurrah!

Claudia and Bruce, we salute you!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dancing queen!

Forget all the usual guff - this is totally the closest final ever! Four ladies set to battle it out with their bestest dances and their spangliest dresses, we have no idea how this one is going to end!

Now, as we've done in previous years, we're just going to whistlestop through the first dances, since we've blogged them before. Suffice to say, Susanna improved on her hoppy-tasic quickstep and Abbey reminded us why she's been impressing us since week one. And how could we regret seeing Natalie shake it with our favourite sexy Cossack again?! Sophie and Brendan also brought it with their classy VW once again, it's still anyone's to play for...

Now it is time to move on to the annual festival of randomness that is the showdances!

Susanna and Kevin
Gosh this was romance piled on top of Hollywood plus both of them holding back the tears the whole time. Gorgeous song choice and lovely to see a ballroom-based showdance, but I felt it got a bit totes emotes at times, like they were trying to convey the emoooootiiion of contemporary dance in it. Pretty impressive spinny lift though, I would have fallen down to be sick after all those revolutions, but unlike me Susanna is a classy bird.

Abbey and Aljaz
Wow, that was the kind of fierce showdance we were expecting! Just on the right side of barmy, loved it as a whole piece, including the Ballroom Rock of Ages Barbie and Ken outfits. I got totally excited when it was on and whooped at least twice, so even if it wasn't perfect, it's fulfilled the showdance requirements for me. It may fall into the hot mess category of Kimberly's showdance last year.

Natalie and Artem
To start with I'm loving Natalie's outfit, it's from the Strictly Superheroes genre of dresses and so it should be. This was a cracking routine from start to finish, so many sections and styles flowing into each other. Plus it was fun! No pining emotion or po-faced-ness there, just a right ol' fun bit of razzmatazz for a Saturday night, which is what this is all about.

Sophie and Brendan
Is there such a thing as a 'traditional' showdance? This was the disco-y, latin-y kind of showdance we totally expect from these things and it was pretty good. Sophie looks amazeballs and Brendan is having the time of his life - but I also expected him to play to her strengths a bit more.

And as we come to the results show we have to say goodbye to........Sophie! Not completely shocking, but gutted we did not get to see the epic Charleston of epic-ness again.

So now we turn to the final section in this marathon blog post, are you still with us, or have you collapsed from emotional exhaustion? Well you've still got it to come. Susanna brought the most paso-y of pasos back to us, along with Kevin's Father Dougal matador outfit, but to me it didn't have the same grrr as last time. Abbey closed most of her gapping with the most delightful quickstep of the series...but then we came to Natalie. While the other two didn't quite come up to the first time they did their dances she knocked it out of the park with bells on, and tears, the tears from everyone!

And then we had a million recaps, this blog post got even more rambling and everyone from the series came out a did a crazy mess of a dance that was actually such good fun that no one really cared. AND THEN the BBC felled us with the uber-montage of every winner ever just in case there was anyone who hadn't cried just yet. Until, finally, it was revealed the winner was....ABBEY!

She looked as shocked as us all, but totally deserved it after doing so well throughout the series. And what a series it's been; we've ranted and laughed and generally gone a bit crazy - thanks for joining us along the way!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

You're a Vegetable.

Roll up, roll up! It's time for the explosion of drama that is the SCD semi-finals. Dreams will be made and shattered on that dancefloor, there will be grudges created that will be held in the blogosphere for years to come. I'm just excited about two dances and two dresses for everyone! Tess has even caged her cleavage in acknowledgement of such a dramatic show.

Natalie and Artem - Salsa

It's not a proper salsa song, but we've had worse *cough*GetLucky*cough* and these two were always going to throw themselves into it anyway. Plus there is an epic amount of fringing in that dress, more fringe than the whole series combined! And the hair, the hair was close to escaping, I think I want it to explode in a showdance scenario. Great salsa, bits were a-shaking and Natalie was a-spinning, great start to the show.

Slightly haunted by could-have-beens. Can you imagine how good this would have been to an appropriate piece of music? However, this was, if you shut your ears, the most salsa of the salsas this year. Natalie's an absolute natural. Nicole Cutler-esque spins were a bonus. Also, a highlight: Natalie singing out loud 'You're a Vegetable.'

Patrick and Anya - Waltz

I really, really hate Unchained Melody, it's the most dreary song in the world for me. Even with the new arrangement this wasn't doing it for me. It was a passable waltz but not semi-final standard, it just seemed a bit stiff and stilted to me. Plus he had a weird look on his face, like something had gone wrong or he needed a wee. Tossing Anya on the floor halfway through was really quite odd too, yeah, you can do it in ballroom but it seemed out of step with the dance.

I was oh so ready to rant about this song choice but thankfully the track was suitably rearranged into the correct time signature and, actually, was a rather nice arrangement. I haven't anything else to say other than it was nice. And nice ain't getting you nowhere at this stage. 

Sophie and Brendan - Paso

If there was ever a haughty dance it was this, I'm expecting good face from Sophie again, so excited about this dance. I loved it, the drama! The drama! Control but powerful. The faces! The dress! Oh I came over all of a quiver. Brendan you get top marks for choreography once again.

Liked the music but all the exclamations of 'Yay! Traditional Music!' on Twitter - please think. A composition for a Russian ballet is hardly traditional Spanish bullfighting music, is it? Only objecting to the use of the word traditional. This worked. It was marchy and dark. She is still a bit wibbly around the middle but if other dances were overmarked, this was defnitely undermarked. And also half expected Alan Sugar to pop out of a cake. Stranger things have happened.

Susanna and Kevin - Foxtrot

They're bringing out the big guns and harnessing the power of Kevin's magical specs, good plan. It's hard to jazz up a foxtrot, but with a genius song choice and their amazing partnership they pretty much managed it! Brilliantly executed, I even managed to stomach the bench. Also loving Susanna's perfect princess prom dress and their bouncy squeaky reactions to their 10s. 

I do like to see the reaction to a wholly unexpected 10 and Susanna's utter delight at hers was a joy. However, nice this was, it was really only nice. It was not a trot of epic proportions. When was the last time you saw a trot that was? 

Abbey and Aljaz - Samba

I really wanted to see if she could style out Lilia's samba turban, but alas, the dream was not there and we had to cope with some lovely feathers instead. It was never going to be her best, but it was better than I think even she thought it was going to be and it did show she's come on leaps and bounds from her salsa/cha cha days. Lots of content and great rhythm, now she's got that done she can wow us with her American Smooth...

Squidged full of content and lots of traditional samba moves. Alijaz gets a prize for choreography here. However, it didn't deserve 10s as her body movement was non-existent. 

All change - let's go round again!

Natalie and Artem - Argentine Tango

This was always going to be good and it just oooozed Argentine tango from every step. Proper music and as ever, all about the jigsaw legs. Len's right, there was a burn, and not just from the uber-red outfits.

The lovely electronic tango track was goosebumpy. This was a great dance. May not have deserved a 40 in the context of all the series ever, but in the context of this year's competition, what the hell is going on to give this 9s?

Patrick and Anya - Paso

80s power-ballad paso klaxon! This was a paso-by-numbers to me, Patrick didn't seem to be doing much himself content-wise considering this was a semi-final dance. He did a wonderful smell-the-fart face for a lot of it though and Anya's dress was lovely and Lilia-eqsue but I don't think that alone can save them.

I don't even remember this dance.

Sophie and Brendan - American Smooth

Oh how I adore Brendan nonchalantly sliding down the stair rail on his bum. Lovely routine playing to all of Sophie's strengths. Wonderful lifts too, they seemed to be part of the dance and not just gymnastics for the sake of it. I can't say it was perfect, but dammit these two deserve to be in the final so much!

Sophie looked as though she were floating on a cloud, in a possibly drug-enduced haze. And I mean that in the best possible way. It was almost ephemeral. Bring on the final, E-B. And yeah, Brendan got cool.

Susanna and Kevin

I thought they were going to eyes and teeth their way through this, and they eyes, teethed and shimmy-faced it! This was NOT the best dance for them to be doing in the semi-final, it was all over the shop at times. Full of energy, maybe even a bit too much, but that was a properly hyper song choice. The messy samba was hilariously good fun, a messy semi-final salsa is worrying...

This was not salsa.

Abbey and Aljaz - American Smooth

This was the cutesy-est American Smooth ever and I still loved it. She's so good in hold and I was surprised at how perfect their side-by-side bits actually were. The lifts weren't spectacular but she handled them pretty well. She's got that great balance of technical skill and personality, along with being pretty consistent over most of the series. 

I actually preferred Sophie's dance on the whole but you can't knock Abbey's top line. Well maybe you could with a large rock and a trebuchet but that would be cruel. Am I the only one who could see Abbey winning this? And I totally wouldn't mind. 



Sunday, 8 December 2013

Swing-a-whaaa?

We're running low on people, only six couples coming down the stairs really doesn't feel like enough now. Plus there's no Bruce, I'm all out of flunter. Tess and Claudia have also raided the dressing up box marked 80s Prom, so who knows what randomness we're in store for this evening...

Ashley and Ola
Will there actually be salsa? They had a go with the song, rather than doing a salsa to the Beatles or something equally random. This was fast and jam-packed full of steps, they'd obviously put a hell of a lot of work into it, but it was still a bit sloppy. The lifts got a bit crazy, wasn't sure if it was going right or if there was an impromptu death-defying stunt involving Ola's head, oo-er! As much as I don't like a prop, I kinda missed Julian Clary's maracas, you don't get them like that anymore!

Natalie and Artem
Oooh I've been waiting for her paso and I was so glad to see they got proper music and no daft theme. That is an epic paso dress too, with some seriously good skirt, loved the bit where Artem pulled her in by it! The flamenco elements were beautifully done, but could have done with a tad more grrrrr. I do like my pasos on the bonkers side and whilst it wasn't the jumping-up-and-down-bestest paso ever there was no need for Len to go on a rant like that!

Patrick and Anya
Ouch, a male rumba at this stage is never good...Patrick totally brought out his act-tor range for this, Anya brought the scary Carol Voderman faces. This was pretty good, could have done with a bit more hip action, it seemed a bit intermittent. If he hadn't been in the bottom two before I would have said he could have coasted through this. Saying that, Patrick seems to have loosened up a fair bit and I'm wondering if he and Darcey had some champers backstage when she got that 10 out!

Susanna and Kevin
I have never, ever wanted a dance to rise above the song choice more than this one. At first I thought they might just scrape through as an oddity, but the song was just bad. Even Bad might have been a better song, who knows? Susanna obviously had the skill to do a good AT though and she looked proper fierce, throwing herself into it as ever. Le sigh...

Abbey and Aljaz
The snot-green dress from the ITT previews has magically vanished and been replaced with the loveliest of the night, I suspect the green one had an accident and mysteriously fell into a shredder. This song choice was delightfully quirky...when Brendan and Kelly did it six years ago. But this was a delight on a rather frantic evening, so much natural grace and Abbey is having the time of her life. Might not have been perfect, but if Patrick is getting a 10 then Abbey has to have one!

Sophie and Brendan
The hair! The makeup! Brendan the yuppie! Shouldn't love it, but I do. There was theming, props and a random song choice, but I still really enjoyed this so it must have been good. Oddly, Sophie was more expressive than usual when she was supposed to be a mannequin, maybe she just knew she looked fabulous and had to give it some welly. There was a proper tango in there too, even when he's having a laugh Brendan knows what he's doing.

Swing-a-thon
Strictly Come Dancing 2013: Ashley Taylor Dawson is the big loser in a controversial swingathon
Argh, brace yourselves for running around and legs flying through the air in random lifts. Natalie and Artem totally deserved to win, loved seeing Artem doing the chicken walk and Natalie's jelly-legs cartwheel at the end. Oh if we had only seen their jive! Kevin and Susanna were voted off criminally early and Ola and Ashley could have done with a bit longer too. The problem is that with six couples on the floor it's pretty much impossible for people at home to see what's going on, I can't believe I'm saying this, but it needs to go on for twice as long! I do like a pro-strop when they're sent off though, even if it is staged, Brendan coming over all Johnny Castle is always a treat!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Artem Smooth


It's musical week, what we like to call the least-worst of the theme weeks! Because y'know, musicals actually have something to do with dancing. What a novel idea. But it also means more props and comedy outfits, it could go either way. Plus we get a decent old-school opening number with cute outfits and jazz hands galore.

Patrick and Anya

Well that just might be the biggest prop of them all, remember when we spoke of the ridiculousness of flying cars on DWTS Italy etc? You're now living it! Thankfully, they got out of the car and then proceeded to do a normal Charleston and didn't mess around with toot sweets or butterfly nets. There were Charleston faces that weren't gurning, which is becoming increasingly hard, there was swivel and cute outfits. Even though 10s was going a bit far we're doing better than last week already!

Let me just say that I think we were likely to love anything this week after the horrendous hoard of horse poo that was last week's show. And charlestons? Meh. But perhaps because I hadn't eaten since 11am, or perhaps because I was just so desperate to see something good, I did quite love this. Marvellous swivel. Superb timing and synchronisation. It was just a jolly delight. 

Natalie and Artem

Natalie looks stunning, best outfit in weeks, thank goodness for that. Artem's suit on the other hand looks like it's had an accident at the craft table. This was your typical Artem American Smooth, which means he's just choreographed a random stunning dance rather than an actual AS. I normally get arsey about that, but I loved this anyway. Natalie's hair was so emotional it just had to escape!

I love Natalie's dancing and I think we are far beyond cries of ringer. Tom Chambers anyone. But as Frankie said, this was not an American Smooth (though let's be honest, no one really knows what that is these days...), this was an Artem Smooth. Incredibly beautiful. Balletic. Swooshy arms. Synchronised. But it in no way, shape or form, was it a ballroom dance. Artem, you lovely, delightful, sparkly blueberry. Put aside your artistic tendencies and don't risk Natalie's place in the competition. 

Mark and Iveta

I love Iveta, she pulls off a spangly outfit from Cats and then brings us a delightful samba to the Lion King. How Mark managed to bounce with those knees I do not know, but he was better than plenty of able-bodied people in the samba this series!

Iveta. You are amazing. I don't even care about the frivolous nature of the themeage with this couple because it just works. It's so Mark's character. He even plays a straight dance with a dash of comedy. To do otherwise would just. be. wrong. I have been on the lookout for a new favourite female pro since Karen Hardy left, and I think Iveta may just have filled the gap. And Mark, I suspect your time is up this week, but we will miss you. 

Sophie and Brendan

They are trying to turn Sophie into a scary Victorian doll, aren't they? Props-tastic opening but then again a choreography-full VW that was totally delightful. Forward turns and reverse turns, that's what it's supposed to be about. I don't blame her for looking dizzy at the end, I was expecting them to walk straight into the judges desk at the end!

Artem, take note. Do this. Brendan's choreography was beautiful and they were about the only couple to dance the dance they were supposed to. Even with gimmicks, on a theme week, Brendan was straight into hold and it was just delightful. He is the most experienced professional on the show (tied with Anton...but really??) and it is really showing this year. Sophie and Brendan got all my five votes this week and I'm not afraid to say it. So ner. 

Abbey and Aljaz

This was the one dance I thought was going to suffer because of the theme. Abbey actually looks like Carrie in SATC series two and is totally pulling it off. I would say this was very good, one of her best latins, but even I know it wasn't salsa! Saying that, Abbey seems to just be able to do whatever choreography you give her and that is the sign of a great dancer. The human props can sod off, Abbey was doing the arms better than them. The lifts were a bit hairy though. The 40 was surprise, but whatcha gonna do....

Love Abbey but this was not salsa. 

Ashley and Ola

Ola's outfit would actually be very nice if it wasn't for the wig, Ashley's outfit is not nice. This was a very good rumba actually, nice lines and fluidity, slightly spoiled by the fact they looked like they were on the way to a fancy dress party. Ashley is getting better, but somehow he's often under the radar. Maybe now Ben has gone he might just emerge...preferably not on a flying carpet.

Pretty fly for a guy. Fly. Geddit? He was on a flying carpet? Blokes usually pants at rumba? Speaking of pants, I think Ola ripped hers. 

Susanna and Kevin

Delightful song choice for musicals week, it didn't need any gimmicks with a choice as perfect as that. I had high, high hopes for this and nearly had a little cry when she went wrong a couple of times. She recovered pretty well and the piece on the stairs was delightful. Bruno's whaaaaaaaaat at Craig's 7 was shared around the nation.

Oh Susanna! I did cry for you. This was supposed to be the pinnacle of the show. A fantastic song choice, and difficult choreography, but in the end, those little tootsies got in a pickle and you didn't quite keep up. Her 'eyes and teeth' recovery would have made Pamela Stephenson proud. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Blackpool Hangover

Danger: we're now about to hit the episode-after-Blackpool-curse, it's always the way. Tess looks like a bridesmaid from an LA Grecian-themed wedding and the tabloids are looking at if Bruce will drop dead any second.

Disclaimer. I have toothache and my comments are thus likely influenced by my drug addled state.

Susanna and Kevin

I'm sure Holly Valance wore that dress about three years ago, but I forgot about that the second she went into Karen Hardy Face Overdrive. Susanna was saying all week she wasn't getting on with the cha cha and I have to say I agree with her. It just didn't work, Kevin did a good routine and like Len said, it was acceptable, but I did have the odd cringe and could have seen more hip action. Everyone has a bad week, this is the first time she's actually had one!

There's always a dance that doesn't suit a contestant. To be fair, it's not usually the cha cha cha, but you can't really knock Susanna for having one bad week. You can knock her for having a face like Carol-does-rumba, which was a little more Debbie-does-Dallas than one cares to remember. I would suggest she tone it down next week but perhaps knowing her technique wasn't quite on the money this time, she merely took Frankie's advice of 'EYES AND TEETH! EYES AND TEETH!' And that can be forgiven. 

Ashley and Ola

Gosh, there's a lot of facework going on this week, Ashley looking like a cocker spaniel who's just been shouted at. Lovely routine, cheese-tastic song, wafty dress - this is what you expect from a SCD waltz. I think he's quietly getting better, bit more polished, less frantic. Speaking of dresses, did they not have time to finish Ola's? Maybe they were messing around in a shark tank for too long...

What was going on with the music? You could barely hear the beat. Waltz goes ONE two three ONE to three and the beautiful rise and fall comes from dancing to the music. If the music does not rise and fall, then how can the contestant be expected to? This show is treating the music like frippery. Like meaningless decoration. Like it doesn't really matter, like costumes, and props. Oh my. My point is, Ashley did a fine job. Considering. Note to those in control: dancing is not random movement where music happens to be in the background; dancing is moving TO the music. To deny suitable music is to do the celebrities and their partners a disservice. 

Natalie and Artem

More bloody Rhianna, does the BBC keep using her dross to pretend they're down with the kids? This was a technically great tango as expected, but for the millionth time soulless synths mean there's no tension in the atmosphere at all. I'm sick of writing this four or five times a series.

Contrary to what you might think, I'm not a complete purist. I don't expect every single couple to dance to La Cumparsita. That would be as dull as a bowl of dishwater being forced to watch paint dry. When the Strictly band arranged Nelly Furtado's Maneater for a tango, I thought it was marvellous. It just worked. The mood, tempo, marchiness. This track, however, having no mood and very little marchiness ruined what could have been an epic dance for Natalie. There are some dances, such as cha cha, where a pop song often just works. But some other dances, and tango is one, where there needs to be a certain mood. The track needs to be dark, staccato and brooding. And this was about as staccato as a marshmellow. 

Mark and Iveta

Iveta looks like a fabulous doll, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Mark finally gets some more ballroom, but then they gave him the worst of the trots. I also found it hilarious the BBC must have spent so much money on that massive bed prop for it to be used for all of three seconds. It was alright, not as good as his waltz though, could Marks days be numbered?

Mark has musicality. He's not dancing to numbers; he's listening to the music. This is why, despite major Twitter uproar, I actually agree with the judges' decision to keep him over Ben. He has another week in him. Then it's anyone's game. 

Sophie and Brendan

Nothing like a Victorian-inspired nightie to get you in the mood for a rumba. Thankfully they actually had a decent music choice, which is something to appreciate on a night like this. I liked the pretty, fragile nature of it and the ballet lines. Also liked Sophie's random range of facial expressions from serenity to frantic grinning to shy to nervous laugh all in the space of 30 seconds!

Not sure about the frock. It looked as though someone tied her up like a favour at a goth wedding. I agree that the judges should have found fault - it wasn't perfect - but they narked at the wrong thing. Her body movement wasn't rumbary enough, and she was a tad of-the-wobble. But to say it's not raunchy enough? Well. Why judges do you comment on the mood of a rumba, yet be perfectly fine with an un-tangoey tango? Still hoping she can do another great dance. But what's left for her to perfect?

Ben and Kristina

This could have gone either way, we were expecting either a million lifts or a great routine. It ended up somewhere in the middle, there were a lot more steps in it than I was expecting, the only problem was that it showed up that he wasn't very good at them. Cute song choice though.

He did dance. But he looked oh so uncomfortable whilst doing so. It was the right decision for him to go but I'm sure we will all miss his arms him.

Abbey and Aljaz

Abbey putting in a great performance and working really hard, despite everyone being a bit knackered and grumpy this week. It says a lot that this wasn't the worst song choice and she also somehow managed to bag the nicest dress once again - only issue was the ponytail of doom smacking her in the face!. Aljaz might not be the liveliest jazz-handy of pros but he certainly knows how to put a great routine together. 

For my thoughts about Abbey's paso, please see my rant above about Natalie's tango. That. 

Patrick and Anya

This was a VW so there was a danger of them falling into the chasm of dullness yet again, and I think they were teetering on the edge of it. Hardly any waltz steps and the clumsy, clumsy ending just made this a odd dance. It seemed slightly inspired by the paaain and emoootion of contemporary dance, which has no place anywhere, let alone a VW.

I liked this. Though I do wish they wouldn't keep using the womenfolk to sweep the floor.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

It's Raining 10s!

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, we're back in Blackpool the home of ballroom!

And to kick it off we're having the biggest of opening numbers ever, it's a low-budget scene from a Baz Luhrmann film and a I love it. Kids! Old people! Abbey in a giant pansy for no apparent reason and pretending to be happy about it! Tess seems to have gone for showgirl with her super-slashed dress, but I could have done with a bit more sparkle rather than an Angelina Jolie leg attempt.

Sophie and Brendan
Could they not be bothered with Sophie's dress? It's a nice colour, but it's hardly got any detail on it for a SCD dress. But of course the random pink eyeliner is back. And why are there random people in the background?! Sorry, I haven't talked about the dancing yet, but probably because they're really distracting! It was a great quickstep though, very well executed. Not knock-your-socks-off but a great start to the show.
I told you she was going to do a good quickstep, didn't I? Now how was I supposed to know she'd have the sequinned socks knocked off her by Abbey less than half an hour later? This was perky. But the standout thing about it was Brendan's choreography. Just lovely. I don't think we are going to see better than Sophie's charleston though. Curses she danced it so early.

Patrick and Anya
Anya wins the dresses, all the dresses. That is a proper SCD samba frock, my dreams of feathers have been answered. Actually, I typed that before her shoe got stuck, damn you feathers! Great recovery though, points to you Anya and to Patrick for not freaking out! This was a cracking samba, a fast and varied routine and Patrick has definitely broken through the dullness barrier. Easily the best samba of the series.
Is Anya the new Lilia? Marvellous frock, just marvellous. I agree with Frankie. Muchos kudos for not freaking out by heel catching in dress moment. How did the judges not comment on that? I absolutely loved this samba. Go Patrick. Woo. 

Ben and Kristina
I am here to watch Ben and Kristina dance, not Kristina and some random people that look like ballroom dancing ninjas. The ways to not have Ben do a lot of dancing are getting even more elaborate, which is a shame since he's getting better and can do ballroom! This routine made me grumpy, too fractured for me and yes, I know he can do lifts. Like Bruno said, he was good at the VW bit, but I could have done with more than 10 seconds of it.
Ben is just great. At standing there while Kristina dances. 

Ashley and Ola
A cowboy paso, just what this world has been crying out for. So flamenco, so Blackpool. This actually was pretty good, I'd even say it was Ashely's most technically accomplished dance, and was pure paso behind the fancy dress. The fancy dress was putting me off though, Ola gives great paso, there's no need for gimmicks! Or line dancing accomplices!
Since when does a Paso need any other theme than Paso theme? This dance comes with its own theme. Leave it be.

Fiona and Anton
The Tower Ballroom is about the size of Blackpool Airport actually... Yet more annoying people in the background, sod off and stop distracting me! Excuse the pun, but this never really got off the ground for me. Great frock, proper routine, Anton in a funny hat and all that, but lacking in pizzazz. Starting to think Fiona has lost her mojo...
Meh.

Abbey and Aljaz
Absolute corker of a quickstep! This routine was brilliant, lovely outfits and such class by ignoring that they had to dance around a giant bucket. Fast footwork, great Charleston sequence and Abbey's face was a treat. I also love how she just can't resist singing along to the song at times, and I can't believe that song hasn't been used for a quickstep before, get in Aljaz! Craig gave Abbey a 7 but Ben an 8, yeah whatevs! Quite happy to see her get the 10s after that!
I never in a besquillion years imagined I'd be voting for Abbey Clancy for anything. Yet here we are, and I am seriously rooting for her to make the final. This was nippy. And it's not just because I was excited by a giant bucket and spade. But did you see? Enormous. And her feet were quick. And the song was happy. 

Mark and Iveta
Slightly disappointed Mark isn't in his Hairspray drag, but they both look delightful anyway. The odds were stacked against him this week, third latin in a row and with dodgy knees, but they pulled out all the stops and Iveta can choreograph anything. Captured the spirit of Hairspray and had loads of content, really want him to get through to next week to see if they can finally give him some ballroom. And it's his birthday, c'mon people!
I'm getting a little bored of it now. 

Susanna and Kevin
Ladies and gentlemen, witness the most paso-y-est paso that was ever paso-ed! This was insanely good fun, from the outfits to the circus music to the flamenco to the faces. You can tell Susanna really did spend the week watching Strictly Ballroom when she posted that DVD on Twitter. Kevin also has almost as much makeup on as Susanna, and that outfit is hilarious. Susanna isn't scared of anything, bring it on.  
SHOW ME YOUR PASO DOBLE! And boy, she did. Loved this. The reaction shows just what happens when you get a more traditional variation on a dance danced well. Through the roof. Now let's see a real salsa too. 

Natalie and Artem
They were always going to get the pimp slot! Where has Natalie's hair gone?! Really, where has it physically gone, I know it's a wig, but there's so much hair you can't just tuck it under. Wasn't quite sure what to make of this, there were flashes of genius and it was perfectly executed but it didn't wow me as much as I was expecting. Maybe it was the stop-start nature of the song? Saying that, Natalie's face was amazeballs, Artem was super-hot and I liked how they looked like a proper couple dancing.
If Enid Blyton were still alive, I'm pretty sure she'd be writing The Mystery of Natalie's Missing Hair. Right now. This was clearly good. But the song didn't connect with the dance for me. The band's arrangement of it, I didn't like. I love watching Natalie and Artem dance however, whatever they dance. What's next week...?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Waltz Goin' On?

We're past Halloween, rejoice! In fact we're halfway through the series, that walkdown on the stairs is starting to take less and less time. Speaking of which, we're GUTTED there's no Natalie and Artem this week. That jive routine looked amazing and I was dying to see the whirling dervish step. Best wishes to her, she'll need all her steel for Blackpool!

Ben and Kristina

Shall we learn to do the jive or shall we mess around learning to do a backflip? Actually, I won't be to cross because there was a lot more jive content in there than I was expecting. And a fairly decent execution too, I can't imagine he would have done any bouncy latin number that well a few weeks ago. Never going to be his best, but it looked like they'd worked at it. Ridiculously over-marked as ever. And hilarious costumes - is he going to be a different member of the Village People every week now?

Sailor boy, it was OK. Now we all know the rugby boys can't jive. (AHEM, has everyone forgotten Austin springy-feet Healey?) I'm still waiting for Ben's breakthrough dance. So his dancing can match the overblown scores he's being given. That sounds bitter, yet I do still like the partnership. And Kristina's costume was adorable. And Ben looked good in his sailor suit. And please god no, not the Native American Chief. 

Fiona and Anton

Thank heavens that scarecrow debacle is over, although they've gone back to 1980s shredded wheat hair for her. And I'm not happy that the nation was not warned about that Anton knee-slide right into our living rooms! Song 2 will forever be Jodie and Ian's paso! Classic paso choreography, fine, but it never really got off the ground and seemed a bit dull. Fiona looked a bit awkward, Anton was...Anton.

Fiona wasn't too bad. Anton made me want to grate my own eyeballs and serve them on salad. 

Abbey and Aljaz

Fine, put her in a Liza wig, but spend more than a fiver on it wardrobe department! And what's with the sugar pink? Totally incongruous to the image! Pah! Training footage of this looked amazing, so hopes were high. I can't say it was knock-your-sparkly-socks-off as good as Sophie's, but it was pretty good! Liked how it was a bit cool, not a manic gurning number, a bit more West End. There was swivel and the monkey step with their ridiculously long legs was a delight!

This was not as natural as Sophie's nonchalant dolly-charleston but it was more than decent. A bit Fosse, a bit West End, and as Frankie says, a little more toned down than we have come to expect from the all-face-no-dance routines we have seen since the Beeb insisted on throwing in this odd little dance. I suspect (nay, hope) this was more than enough to keep her safe. Abbey looked as though she were trying really hard not to sing along in this. Like Regina George does Jingle Bell Rock (before Gretchen Wieners messed that up.)  I'll even concede that the use of a hat in a charleston is a tolerable-use-of-prop. 

Mark and Iveta

I love these two, they're such a brilliant team. The skilled clown and the not-so-evil genius! Thought a rumba was always going to be a sticky one for him, the men usually just pose. But good to see great arms and lines from him. And it was a masterclass in deadpan! Iveta spangling around in that catsuit, Mark giving us the evil eye, all while being a bit bonkers. These guys have to stay in and get to do more ballroom!

In an evening of toned-down, propless dances, this smacked of incongruity. Iveta is completely and utterly bonkers. This has worked in previous weeks but it didn't sit well this week. 

Susanna and Kevin

Princess dress alert, in fact, that whole thing was a fairytale! What a gorgeous waltz, wonderful choreography and sweeping music. That pivots sequence was amazing, I don't think I've ever shrieked over some pivots! Goes to show you don't need props and gimmicks to bring down the house.

Just ooh. Criminally under-marked (or, if we are going to be picky, everything else criminally over-marked), this was beeeaa-uuu-tiii-ful (imagine that word in a Dick-Van-Dyke-does-Bert-in-Mary-Poppins voice). This is exactly what the show should be about. No gimmicks, no props, no stupid costume. Just choreography and well executed dancing. These two have shimmied their way back up to being one of my favourite pairs again. Keep at it, Kevin. 

Dave and Karen

Umm...yeah, Scotland, woo! Quite liking Karen's Vivienne Westwood style dress though. This was one of the oddest collection of things I've seen, the concept was barmy but you got the impression Karen had tried to choreograph an actual tango. It was better than his recent latins, but that isn't saying much. Will it get the Scottish vote? Is that their only hope? I know it doesn't matter as he's at the bottom, but sixes was ridiculous!

You know they're desperate if they're trying to tap into the Scottish vote when neither of the pair is Scottish. If Dave manages to survive another week, what are we to expect? Dancing a Charleston dressed as a leek? Or a Argentine Tango in the style of Riverdance? The content wasn't as bad as you'd at first think, but in this case, the gimmick made it look worse. Had he a regular dance get up and La Cumparsita, his scores would have been higher. Methinks. 

Ashley and Ola

Ola, it's taken you seven weeks to realise you needed to go to the Hollyoaks set for extra training? Or did the BBC not let you until now? Ashley is dressed as the now departed Michael Moon from Eastenders. This was a crazy fast quickstep and, like a lot of his faster numbers, a bit manic. The energy stayed throughout and it was a good routine. Still needs a bit more polish, but the boy done good!

Nice but a tad flolloppy. I reckon if Ashley could put a little teensy bit more time into training, he could be a contender. Waiting for his breakthrough dance. It will come, I am sure.

Sophie and Brendan

Brendan has been ridiculously excited about this AT this week, it's been quite amusing. LOVED what they did with the music, just perfect for the number. These routines are really quite complicated and I felt like I could sense that a bit from Sophie, remembering all those jigsaw legs. She did seem a little bit tentative, but definitely a return to form after struggling the last few weeks.

Great track and good dance. But it wasn't the glorious comeback I would have liked. Did Sophie peak at Charleston? Quite possibly. But I maintain, her quickstep will be the one to watch. 

Patrick and Anya

Wow, Patrick gets the pimp slot! This had better be good...oh of course it was! This as exactly the kind of routine they had in mind when they thought up the American Smooth. Busting at the seams with Hollywood, classic song and show-stopping fling-them-over-your-shoulder lifts. And well done to both of them for upping their game in the last couple of weeks, there was no falling asleep in that one. We won't talk about the lift-flub. Although, Darcey, you can't give a 10 to something when it had a mistake and you pointed it out!

If this deserved a ten, then Susanna deserved two. However, that aside. Craig is right - he is  the best of the male celebrities and personally, I would love to see him go from strength to strength. I forget he's there every week yet he has given us some marvellous routines. He looked so happy dancing the American Smooth and I hope that ten has given him the confidence to come out every week with that pizzazz. I love an underdog. I would love Patrick to keep going like this and make the final. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Fright Night IV

Viewers beware, we are entering the fourth year of Strictly's Halloween theme nights...or as we like to call it The Worst of the Themes. As ever, I'm trying to go into this with an open mind (can't speak for Clover), although last year's Halloween episode opened with Dani and Vincent dancing to the Scooby Doo theme so hopes aren't high!

Tess is letting the side down by wearing a non-scary dress for once. Rip-roaring Time Warp number from the pros in the best spirit of Rocky Horror, if we could just leave it at that for Halloween I'd be happy!

Patrick and Anya
Poor Anya, everyone has amazingly detailed outfits and she's got an orange nylon sheet. Good choice of song and a rather snazzy routine, but epic gapping. I do worry that they've put them on first after him being in the bottom two, probably one of his best routines but there's a good chance he'll get forgotten during all the randomness we're undoubtedly in for tonight!

Fiona and Anton
The first example of a good routine being RUINED by Halloween. Cute song, Anton is surprisingly good at the Charleston and Fiona seemed to have picked it up pretty well. If there'd been fringing and 1920s touches then it could have been jolly good fun, but this was just...odd. And not even an entertaining odd.

Ben and Kristina
Well this was good, largely because this was the kind of paso that could have been done any week and all that was Halloween-y was the size of Kristina's hair. There was more choreography in that than in the last two weeks combined. Good cape-work actually too. They're obviously desperate to keep him in, but as long as he's doing actual dancing then it's ok for now...

Sophie and Brendan
Attack of the killer peplum! This was weirdy-weirdy-weird. I could see what was going on with the routine, but it just didn't work. Sophie was hopping around and then occasionally grabbing Brendan's shirt before they fell into a bit of panto at the end! I don't think it helped that the song was deathly dull with no crescendo or anything.

Natalie and Artem
This was a beautiful song choice, just right for the occasion and let them do a theme that wasn't too ridiculous. Artem always does an off-choice choreography routine, but at least there was dancing rather than sitting on a sofa or whatever. It was wafty, it was lovely, I wouldn't have given it 10s but the best of the night by far.

Mark and Iveta
Well this was always going to be the most random thing ever to grace our screens...But it was actually a paso! A paso between a boyband Ghostbuster and a Mars Attacks disco alien, but there you go. Only Iveta would listen to Starship Trooper and think, oooh yes, paso time, but she's fabulous and her methods cannot be questioned.

Rachel and Pasha
Thank goodness she's back to ballroom! Great song choice and styling for the number, even if it was just a made-up dance style. It started really well, but seemed to lose a bit of steam throughout. Plus I don't think you should be beaming like the happiest person in the world for your Halloween dance, Rachel! Definite improvement, should see her through.

Ashley and Ola
It is testament to how good this was that I got over the terrible, terrible song choice. And not just because it wasn't Things That Go Bump in the Night. It was an actual tango, there was staccato, there were pivots and drama. Well done Ola for yet another great routine, and rocking the Zombie Marie Antoinette look too! 

Abbey and Aljaz
There was a lot of expectation on this one, genius song choice and all that. And they just about pulled it off, I could have done with a bit more hip action but the routine as a whole was pretty good and non-tacky Halloween. And is there anything in this world Abbey can't make look good?

Dave and Karen
Someone on Twitter said Dave looked like moldy panda and I couldn't stop giggling about it. It was better than last week, it was in time for at least 70% of the routine and he did seem to remember what he was doing - but I shouldn't have to say this about someone in week six! It was funnier watching Chris Parker chase Hanna round in a circle...

Susanna and Kevin
So yeah, Susanna looks normal and Kevin looks like he's escaped from an RSPCA ad about mistreated animals. Another Charleston ruined by pointless Halloween theming, what was that song all about? She could have done a rip-roaring Charleston any other week, you could see she was really good at it!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Time to Go Propless

Embedded image permalinkHere we are again, we're totally into our Saturday night SCD routine now, all the way until Christmas people! Sofa, check, Strictly snacks, check, Twitter fired up, check, snarky comments at the ready? Oh yes!

Natalie and Artem

I wanted feathers, not shower pooffes! She's even got one in her hair, they'll never get that out. This was a great routine, proper samba, despite the producers thinking it's Spanish and not Brazilian. I love Natalie's faces as well, enjoying herself to Karen Hardy proportions there! And Artem soldiering on despite the trauma of that shirt, oh and the little matter of the broken nose, it looks like he bled down the front of it actually!

On my protestations about the Spain/Brazil thing, snarks on Twitter said that they were referring to the flamenco theme of the dance when commenting about Spain. But a flamenco-themed samba is about as sensible as a tango-themed jive. Which is obviously not very. On t'other hand, that this had an miniscule oodle (miniscoodle?) of latin flavour made it one of my favourite sambas that has graced the Strictly floor. Could have had a bit more of a natural bounciness perhaps but I spent most of the dance thanking the Gods of Strictly that Artem decided to go propless. 

Abbey and Aljaz

Abbey looks stunning, it's compulsory, Aljaz looks strangely creepy, like a bad-un in an old Hollywood film. Abbey is just brilliant ballroom, she's got real natural grace and style and this was just as good as her others. Obviously, I can't get as excited as I did about the tango cos it's...well...a foxtrot and I only get excited by about 2% of them.

This can't have been an easy track to dance to. But it was nice. And Abbey is just lovely at ballroom isn't she? Frankie. When were you actually excited about a foxtrot? Ever? Is anyone? Answers on a postcard made out to No. One. Ever. 

Dave and Karen

Karen's totally been getting her 5-a-day. I feel like I could see what Karen was trying to do, it could have been hilariously good fun but it seemed hampered by the fact that Dave wasn't really moving that much. It looked like he'd lost his timing at the start and then freaked out and forgot the routine. Karen Hauer on the other hand remains bonkers-ly fabulous.

British style salsa. I wish I were joking. Lilia has now been out-turbanned. 

Deborah and Robin

Robin in a hat alert, how have week got to week five without this?! And how long can they draw out this Dragon's Den joke, I'm sure Deborah doesn't spend all her time wheeling a table around at work. There were about 20 seconds in hold, I didn't actually remember it was a VW until Darcey said it at the end. Thumbs down from me, sorry, thumbs up for the outfits though!

I thought. Really? Are they dancing with a table? But then, I have been known to dance with a book trolley. But I'm not in a dance competition. And with this: so much faffing, bear it, I could not. There were 72 bars in that arrangement. There were only 20 bars danced in hold. That is 27.78% faffing. Now I love Robin but this has got to stop. #stoptheprops

Patrick and Anya

The 'comedy' VTs have finally taken someone down, well done producers! Props to Anya for changing the routine and giving it the fun added element of watching his left hand to see how she could factor it out of every move. Good work on his own, as ever, from Patrick, it's a strange talent. Will he get the sympathy votes through to next week?

Oh woe is the frustration borne from the notion that Patrick actually could have done a decent salsa given a decent track. Oh well. 

Fiona and Anton

Fiona, you did an Anton rumba and your reward is the quickstep and a super-fabulous dress, you have paid your dues my dear. What a delight! Say what you like about Anton, he knows how to bring the quickstep razzmatazz.

Can I forgive props if they are cake. Can I? No. I did think about it though. Thankfully the props were limited to the opening bars. This was classy and she is improving. I think people are voting for Anton as much as Fiona and I think they have a good few more weeks left in 'em. 

Rachel and Pasha

Those costume people really hate Rachel, don't they? And you'd think they'd give her time to dry her hair. Overall, this was a rather awkward paso. She was obviously trying really hard, but that was probably where she went wrong. Her paso face looked like she had a headache and was trying to read some small print.

Hmm. So last week she didn't have a costume and was forced to raid the pound rail in Blackpool Primark. This week wasn't much better. She is such a pretty thing and the stylists (though I'm using the term loosely in this case) appear to be trying to make her look as ridiculous as possible. That can't be helping her confidence. If she's in next week, can she have a happy dance? And a pretty dress? Please? And also, giving a non-actor a 'role' so grossly out of a character is a tad unfair. I don't know if that's Pasha's fault or the producers' but there's is nothing written into the Paso. Doble. Law. saying one has to be gothic and slutty. 

Mark and Iveta

Ooh look, some proper dancing, Iveta I salute you and your quite frankly gorgeous dress. The man has skill and is being given some great choreography. These two are going to go far, no split in the comedy vote situation tonight after a proper routine from these guys and Dave's car crash. Also as a side note, that version of the song by the band seemed better than the original!

Mark is the version of Dave that can actually dance. A straight waltz and it was still good. Iveta. You are marvellous. 

Ashley and Ola

Has this guy not read The Winning Formula? Point two is quit your day job! This weekly routine is going to kill him, at this rate he's going to spend the rumba lying down on the floor for a bit. But despite all that, this was a pretty good jive. Despite moaning on about shoes and playing a pretend guitar. Ola's jive face is so full of glee though, I love it!

Now I appreciate he's busy and Ola's tried to fill the time but no, no. Not enough jive in that jive.

Susanna and Kevin

I am loving these outfits, Susanna's looks like something out of Hairspray and Kevin looks like he's going to give us a tour of Cadbury World. The American Smooth was made for these guys (especially since it's a made-up dance) and you just knew it would be a delight. It didn't knock my socks off, but not every week can bounce, bums and bongos insanity. Once again, fine job you two.

This was so sweet that too much could induce one to vomit. Now, here's something interesting about Kevin from Grimsby. Now I thought everyone loved him. He's joyful. And dressed as Professor Plum. Well no. Salsa-friend-Julia says he's rude for dipping a beginner against her will on first meeting. Rewatch the launch show. She's right. And now I'm confused about my own principles. So thanks Salsa-friend-Julia and Kevin-from-Grimsby, between you, you have created my latest existential crisis. 

Ben and Kristina

Are we now at the stage where we're re-using song choices that were a bad idea first time around? And then it actually pushed Len into his first Messin Abaut rant of the year, but then of course it got sevens. It wasn't that bad, and there was much of the Ben winning smile, but there could have been so much more...

Len has come out of his trance and seen the light. Thank bejesus. This took faffing to the extreme. But if they were given 31 points for Ben standing around doing nothing, like last week, then really, I don't blame them for trying it on this week. #stoptheprops

Sophie and Brendan

I don't care if it's Michael Jackson, I don't think I have ever heard this song before in my life. I didn't think this was going to be Sophie's dance, but then again Brendan doesn't do the kitsch-tastic disco cha cha. I don't know how he managed a haughty cha cha though! As the judges said, technically good but lacking sparkle.

Oh Sophie, stick on some rimmed glasses and do it again. If you're going to dance every dance in a hipster style, at least dress the part. Like her samba, she looked like she was just too cool to be there. It wasn't bad but it's getting a little Groundhog Day.