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


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.

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.