Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Showdances...the final countdown!

The anticipation is killing us as we wait for the SCD final this Saturday, but for me the moment we will be waiting for all night is when it's showdance time. I love the sense of the unpredictable, what will they have come up with to try and knock our spangled socks off? So, if any of the contestants are reading this (pfft, yeah right!), here is the definitive guide to snatching that glitterball trophy in the last moments...

Whilst revisiting my Winning Formula post I realised there are four key points to a winning showdance:

1 - Play to your partner's strengths

2 - Choose a good song

3 - Get a good outfit

4 - Don't use puppets

I think every couple that have won have touched on all the points, from Brendan's very clever Dirty Dancing number in Series 1 to Camila giving us the Broadway showstopper last year.

Playing to your partner's strengths is key, as Camila saw that Tom loved a bit of showmanship and Matthew played on Alesha's inner diva to great effect. Karen knew that that salsa was the best dance for Ramps, so she gave him a salsa with some amazing crowd-pleasing lifts.

With songs, don't try and be clever, just get something well-known, camp and spangly. It's what the audience wants and will feel distinctly underwhelmed without. Also if you can somehow connect it to dancing, such as Dirty Dancing, Fame, Flashdance or I Wanna Dance With Somebody - this is Strictly, our cheese tolerance is rather high!

Turning to outfits, for god's sake this is your last chance to spangle so spangle as if your life depends on it! OK so spangles couldn't even save Christopher Parker but Hanna really got into the whole thing. Karen and Lilia have also provided the extra spangle we all require and Lisa Snowdown went for the glittery swimming costume. However, one showdance outfit that disappointed me was Matt DiAngelo's; I understand men don't want to sparkle too much but he appeared to be wearing a Primark vest with a bit of glitter!

As an aside, has anyone else noticed that the showdances we get in the final bear no resemblance to the ones the world champions always come on and do? Maybe because it's more like gymnastics rather than dancing and is kinda boring for the audience. Brendan and Lisa had a fairly good stab at it but they wouldn't have stood a chance against Tom and Camila.
Also, a showdance does not have to win to still be great. Take the Cinderella of the showdance Mr Ian Waite...He's come third and second but did two really underrated showdances! With Zoe he picked a genius West Side Story theme and got so excited he fell over! Turning to Denise, he chose a great song and she even managed to overcome wearing a very unfortunate hat to give a memorable performance.

However, there are the odd showdances that were a little...dare I say it?....dull. I am looking at Rachel and Vincent and Matt and Lilia here. Although in Lilia's case Matt wasn't so good at latin and if that's the case you're kinda stumped with a showdance. I often ponder how Anton would tackle it, probably not with puppets...he's not as stupid as he looks....
And speaking of puppets, we draw this to an end with the classic moment brought to us by the one and only Miss Whiplash. Let us go back and remember that build up, the excitement, Zoe and Ian had just brought the house down, we wait to see what fantabulous display Colin and Erin will give us...and then they come out with PUPPETS! I distinctly remember watching this at home and thinking "is this as toe-curlingly awful as I think it is?" and then when they went over to the stony-faced judges and we had a full-on tumbleweed moment and I burst out laughing! Ah, thanks for the memories you guys!

So here we are at the end of Series Sev-ern and what will the showdances bring us? My thought is Ola will go for the musicality and fun and frolicks style showdance whereas Natalie will probably go for fancy footwork and gymnastics. But as we know, it's all to play for...

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Argy Bargy

Here we are at the semi-finals, it's almost over - but before that there is the most daunting of hurdles, the Argentine Tango. It also means I cannot think of a more creative title for this blog post! There's hardly anyone on the show now, look at that empty photo at the top of the blog, that used to be crammed with people!

Chris and Ola - Rumba

I was very, very worried about the choice of a rumba (Erin Boag lurking near the puppets worried) but after the first five seconds of the intro that melted away pretty quickly. Beautiful story-telling by Ola with the choreography. Gotta love Len, entertainment, hard work and determination all the way. Alesha's choice of the word sincerity was very apt too. As they all said, not the most technically amazing but so very endearing.

Ali and Brian - Argentine Tango

Loving Ali's frock and Amy Winehouse hair. Not too sure about her snarling face all the way through though, there's passionate aggression and then there's gritting your teeth. Not quite as staccato as I would have liked but there was some very difficult footwork going on. Anyone who does the AT has to try and match up to Karen and Ramps for me, which is a tall order.

Ricky and Natalie - Waltz

Ricky and Natalie actually look like they're getting married and then song choice didn't help with that either! This was never going to be anything other than a beautiful waltz, although it seemed a bit too fast for me at times. Really liked the ski-splits move from Natalie. Knew the judges were going to rave about it although it was a bit harsh not to let Len comment on it considering he's the ballroom expert! A little voice in the back of my head said "50?" but thankfully that madness has not been unleashed just yet.

Chris and Ola - Argentine Tango
Here we go with the over-extended VTs...half an hour later we get see them come out- Ola looks fabulous. Thought the choreography in this was a-mazing, there were two parts where I gasped at the the surprise twists. Unlike the judges I didn't spend the whole time looking at his face, which I actually thought wasn't too bad. Good to see Len is on the side of Team Cola!

Brian and Ali - American Smooth

Oooh some sort of mollusc seems to have attached itself to Ali's head, is that her coming out of her shell? *boom boom!* Loved her getting her sass on at the beginning and she actually did very well outside of hold. The whole thing was really polished and fabulous, good work Mr Fortuna. Plus the kiss was absolutely darling! Once Craig got his 10 out I just knew it, the highest score ever is upon us!

Ricky and Natalie - Argentine Tango

No two ways about it, this was bloody good. The footwork was stunning and the whole thing was the proper package. Not too sure about Len's justice comment, thought that might be asking for a sticky moment later on. Loved Alesha and Bruno giving it to Craig too, what a comedy pair they've been all series!

Darcey and Ian

I just can't warm to Darcey, I have no idea why she is on the show and what she is trying to bring to it. She seems like a lovely woman, but this dance seemed equally pointless. Glad to see Ian enjoyed it though! And it really wasn't a jive, get Jill back!

During the break between shows we had a rather dramatic moment involving lots of phonecalls from Radio 5. It was all very exciting and made us feel like proper celebs. Feel free to listen again online!

Results show

Beautiful foxtrot from Ian and Natalie, that really calmed us all down amongst the chaos of all this. Also, Ian makes Natalie look surprisingly small!

And here come the crazy showdancers Craig and Natalie, will Natalie's feet actually touch the floor for more than three seconds? I guess not. To me this just isn't dancing in the way that we have it on the show, it's gymnastics. Plus it's very rare anyone ever tries to a showdance that bears any sort of resemblance to this on the show!

Omg, what is this about the Lindyhop in the final?! Did I miss something? And surely that is totally biased towards Chris? Thank God for the cast of Hairspray, when Phil Jupitus in a pink frock seems sane you know you've had a crazy night! Darren and Lilia looked like they were having the time of their lives and it was hilarious to see Vincent in full on jazz-hands mode. The random appearance of Austin also made it all the more surreal.

Next up in our random evening of delights we have Lilly Allen, singing a song that to me is much too rude for the BBC! But she looks great and glad to see her jigging about a bit. And along come Aliona and Matthew, with Matthew looking more and more like he's escaped from Miami Vice.

Dance off

There was tension. Especially as I was watching this whilst I was talking to John Pienaar live on Radio 5 at the time with the sound off (I resisted trying to start a conversation about Lord Mandelson and his love of the show). The look of shock on Ricky's face as he went through was touching, but not as much as watching Ali's face crumple at the end. It was like kicking a puppy!The true joy for me was Chris' impy little face beaming with pride at the end.

Well that's it. The final is upon us, with showdances and tears and glitter and tens and everything.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Rant about Ant (on)

Oh dear bejesus, what has happened to the du Beke? He's always been the charmer, non? The gentleman, non? The quintessentially English, slightly eccentric dapper-type chappie, non? Oui, to a point - but this series he seems to have got a little bit too big for those suede-soled cuban heels of his. Now, I hate to say I told you so (note: I love to say I told you so) but I did mention a problem with Anton on the blog last year. It was in response to the rallied cries of 'Anton should get a good partner next year!' and similar. I did point out (I did, I did, I did!) that it would be pointless, nay futile (might not have been the exact words but it's kind of the gist...) for Anton to have a good partner because, to be frank, he's not that good himself. Yes, I know he's known as the 'King of Ballroom' but in the grand scheme of things, he's not even that; as far as I'm aware, he never won any major international titles (correct me if I'm wrong) and his latin, well, it's worse than most of the celebrities' attempts. Case in point - Satuday's salsa. Quite possibly the worst salsa I've ever seen. And I have seen a lot of bad salsas, believe me. It's not even because Laila forgot her steps; I don't even care about that. If she had had a decent partner who could dance latin and teach latin and support her through a routine, like the delightful Brian does for Ali, Laila could have made the final. But his attitude rubbed off on her. From the 'Oh-I-Don't-Like-Latin' at the beginning, to the ridiculous attempts at rectifying the situation towards the end. I truly believe that she was made to feel that the latin side of things isn't important and is somehow inferior; and although they delighted us with some nice ballroom, that's exactly what it was: 'nice' - nothing a-maz-ing. Nothing I think I'll remember. He also, at one point, after being criticised for his choreography, said that Laila could have done nothing more so he didn't understand the low mark - didn't even register in his head that it was his fault, not hers. So after much discussion about this at work today in the staffroom, Clare-from-Work and I have come to the conclusion that Anton du Beke is not a good teacher. So next year, stick him back with the old dear. It suits him.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The du Beke salsa of doom....

It's quarter finals time, there's four people- how appropriate! There's so few contestants to come down the stairs this week that they've had to throw a pro dance in at the start, well done Mr Ian Waite for saving the show...

Ali and Brian - Tango
The use of terribly inappropriate music has got to be the thing that has upset me the most this series, and considering the amount of upsets we've had that is quite a big deal! It's not that I want totally traditional music (Black to Black was a great choice) but I simply cannot imagine sexual tension in a dance that reminds me of my dad playing the guitar! Whilst squinting through the music, I could recognise that this was pretty good and the staccato was nice and sharp. Ali's 'omg, i'm about to fall over' face halfway through was amusing too. Darcey is already freaking me out.
FFS, this is Strictly not Guitar Hero. What is with the misguided rockcheese for tangos this year? Me no likey. Like Frankie, I'm not an uber-traditionalist - I thought Darren's choice of Maneater was inspired - but this series has not. been. good. All in all, this was a good dance. Not marvellous but certainly one of the few that's just about worthy of a quarter final.

Laila and Anton - American Smooth

Great frock, looks like something I would buy in Karen Millen in a fit of 'I'll need this when I'm on Strictly' delusion. I was looking forward to an American Smooth from Anton too and he did make a great song choice and chose some sensible lifts. However, Laila looked a bit....confused? Craig did really lay into her, but I do agree it was a tad disappointing for the quarter finals. And how would Darcey know if this was supposed to be 'Laila's dance' when she's never been there before?
Pffft, I thought this was actually quite delightful. I think I was just watching the lovely dress (oh it was lovely) - the whole thing oozed class. Well, I thought it did until I realised you couldn't only drive a bus, but mayhaps The Titanic between Laila and Anton. Those following me on Twitter at the time will have been subjected to the following tweet: GAPPING! GAPPING! GAPPING! For that, I can only apologise. Sorry for blasting your virtual ears off.

Chris and Ola - Waltz

Here comes Team Cola, with Ola in a very nice princess dress there- I wish Craig could have got the chance to rave about the stoning on ITT. Very beautiful song choice and classy choreography. Now what can we do about Chris' constipated face? Someone send him some prunes!
Face Schmace. He's so much better to watch than all the others put together. He works hard and he improves. As good as Ricky is and as lovely a dancer Ali appears, there hasn't been much improvement for a while. And that makes for boring.
Ricky and Natalie - Foxtrot

Anyone else think that dress was originally intended for Kristina? Frontless, backless, metallic- all her style. I have also been told I need to put in my pun about Natalie's golden globes, so there we are. Great foxtrot, very classy and held my attention throughout. Whatever drama we're going through this week (it was man-flu this time, swine flu next week?) this boy can sure do his ballroom. I could smell tens, my Strictly-sense was tingling.

As we go into the latin, is anyone else rather amused by the lengthy intros by the judges? You'd think they were on Newsnight discussing the Copenhagen summit or something!
What? Frankie, get a life... ;-)

Ali and Brian - Samba

Forget best salsa dance of the series, best salsa dress of the series! That is what I like to see, you've gotta have a tailfeather or it's a wasted opportunity. D-U-double-L song choice though, although I simply cannot udnerstand what anyone sees in Daniel Merriweather anyway. Nice choreography for sure, good bit of shimmying too. A nine from Craig was unexpected!
Lovely feathery bumbustle. Boring song. OK samba. Wasn't baaaad; didn't blow me away. A party song a la I Go To Rio, Aquerela do Brasil, something corny and summery - that could have made all la difference.

Laila and Anton - Salsa

So here we are, the day we have been dreading for weeks. The du Beke rug is barely enlcosed in that pink satin shirt, here we go! Well the first ten seconds or so were good, once you got over the fact Laila was wearing a dress styled by Barbra Cartland. But then of course, it all unravelled and they looked like some people in a dodgy surburban wine bar on a Tuesday night. I was watching the armwork from behind a cushion.
Oh-Sweet-Jesus-Mary-Joseph-Seven-Sheep-A-Parcel-Of-Myrrh-And-A-Camel, this was a joooooke of a salsa. I actually liked her dress though. Do I have bad taste?

Chris and Ola - Samba

If someone from Strictly Come Dancing ever had a double life as a superhero they would be wearing Ola's outfit - Saaaamba Woomaaaan! Chris' face was actually hilarious this time and I just love Ola's big beaming smile as well. When I watch little Chris talking about football at 6am on Monday morning I am going to smile to myself at the memory of him shakin his thang in a open turquoise shirt and flinging Ola around by her ankle. I really hope that woman he gyrated at in the audience was his girlfriend!
Where there's fun, there's Always (Coca-) Cola. Sorry - couldn't resist. I enjoyed this more than every other dance on the night. No, technically not the best, but it had the most spirit. Whether that spirit was too-many-vodkas-at-yer-auntie's-wedding is not for me to say, but it's better than nothing, non?

Ricky and Natalie

Wasn't too sure what to make of this one and was a bit distracted by Natalie flashing her knickers at us. I think what I didn't like was that they were trying to be cool, whereas to me a cha cha needs to be as camp as Christmas.
Like the song, though not necessarily for a cha cha cha. I was distinctly unmoved. He is so smug. He's smugger than the smuggler of Smugton, Andrew Castle. You may no longer be a pigeon, Ricky, but keep on like that and you'll turn into a crow.

Results show

Wasn't too sure about the shows being split again, but who cares when we've got a jaw-dropping Argentine Tango from Flavia and Vincent to keep us going, treat of the series as ever. I am suspicious they have bionic feet they move so fast, or maybe it's done with magnets. The group American Smooth was also very much appreciated.
Top marks for pro dances this eve.

Good to see a bit of Bette, really glad we didn't see any more of Bruce! She is fabulous though, none of the other guest stars would stay and have a chat and do a bit of a turn like that. What a pro.

Dance off

Ricky Whittle in the bottom two again shocker, I'm having Emma Bunton flashbacks here. I think we all agree it was just Laila's time to go, just like with Natalie last week. It does play out like that in the final couple of weeks. Thankfully she did dance a lot better in the dance off so she didn't humiliate herself. And that, as they say, is that. Roll on next week!
Now how to engineer a Chris and Ali final? The judges won't let Ricky go, will they? Not unless we execute a cunning plan to foil his attempt....Wait! Natalie's a ballroom pro, isn't she?? (have you read our blog before, sorry if you haven't, it's a running joke...) Erin will surely be on the case! Go Superspy Boag! This year, we salute you...