Saturday, 4 October 2014

Hips Don't Lie

It's that time of year again, the biggest, longest sparkliest of SCD of the year. Forget the final, this is the real marathon - lace up your spangly trainers and away we go.

Also, I seem to be the only non-grumpy person when it comes to the judges dancing on. It takes about 10 seconds and it's a laugh, they're all dancers after all! 

Thom and Iveta
Well Iveta is continuing her range of odd but fabulous costumes, thank goodness for that. The headband comes nowhere near to the epic-ness of Lilia's samba turban though (see Clover, I got that in ALREADY!). Really not feeling Tom's trousers though, although he did seem a lot more relaxed this week. There was a pretty good attempt at salsa fluidity there and Iveta hadn't skimped on the content. He also looked like he was trying so hard, there was a grim determination to that shimmy I had to laugh, but we all love a tryer on this show.
He has potential. That has not been realised yet. Anyone who's read this regularly knows I have a real problem with salsa on this show, and unfortunately this was no exception, although I appreciate that there's been a slight nod towards latin-type music for salsa this week - a whole world of better than Michael Jackson. I really feel Thom struggled with the tempo of this track however, and there's really no need, because there is no strict tempo to salsa. He could have been given something slower. And of course there's the whole BUT THIS WAS MARK AND KAREN'S EPIC DANCE-ness about this track. Thom is the archetypal J-word contestant. Am I ruling him out? I'm thinking not, not, not. (groan). 

Jennifer and Tristan
Well this was a lot better, they'd obviously worked hard on it and ballroom suits her more than being thrown in at the deep end with a jive. But yeah, gapping, top line and all that. I still haven't come around to Jennifer, but my word Tristan is a sweetheart, isn't he?
I really think Jennifer knew what she should be doing, but I never appreciate how flaming terrifying it must be to be out there on the floor actually having to do it. Point in fact: her top line was there at the beginning, but she lost it somewhere between a whisk and a wing. The gapping was a wee bit of o' problem too: you could have driven several large combine harvesters between them at times. And it was as ploddy as a PC in an Enid Blyton story. However, I got quite caught up in the pastel-pinkness of the whole affair and Tristan? He captured the heart of the whole of Twitter in one go. I'm a total sucker for an Irish accent. 

Simon and Kristina
It's a tango and Kristina has brought out the Bond Girl dress, watch out people! It was an odd song choice that amazingly worked for a modern tango, a lot more suitable than some of the awfulness we've been subjected to before. It was sharp and sexy and Simon totally committed to it with his serial killer face, even if it was directed at the ceiling (what is up there?!). Simon's really surprised me so far, I was expecting him to be a bit dull but he's thrown himself into it.
Whilst avant garde, I did like the arrangement of this Ed Sheeran track for a tango, most particularly the sultry intro. I like Simon. I like Kristina. Together, I think they are all kinds of spiffing. In my little humble and oh-so-unprofessional opinion, out of all the dances of the evening, this was the most under-marked. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. 

Gregg and Aliona
Well that was a dog's dinner wasn't it? Boom boom, I got a food-related pun in! Rehearsal footage looked good, but he just seemed to forget the whole thing when he got out there. Aliona dancing away in front of him totally oblivious was hilarious!
Oh It Takes Two, you tease, you. You had actually managed to convince me that this wasn't going to be that bad. But it oh-so-was. I don't know whether to feel sorry for Aliona or feel sorry for Gregg. Have we a touch of the Dom Littlewoods going on here? Have they got it in them to camp it up to be this year's comedy duo? Or will it be buh-bye tomorrow? I honestly can't tell at the moment. But edible props? If you're gonna have them, why not have them scrummy. 

Alison and Aljaz
Well they both look fabulous, the opening steps out of hold were super sass but then it all went to pot once they got into hold. I get the feeling we will see very little of Alison in hold as the series goes on. I really didn't know what to make of this, it seemed a bit odd and gunning for laughs a bit too much. She's got the skills to dance properly, so hopefully the rest of her ballroom will be a bit more traditional.
It's like they did not know which route to take. Play it all for laughs or try to be serious? Alison has a great sense for music and is a natural born dancer but she was always going to find ballroom trickier than latin. I don't think it's impossible for her, however. Plus, I spotted a neat little heel turn before the camera zoomed off into a crazy drug-induced spin. I really like this pair so they got a vote from me. Alison said she wants to stay in long enough to do a samba, salsa and a charleston, and she clearly knows herself well enough to suppose that they will be great dances for her. 

Jake and Janette
Bonkers awesome! Great song choice, proper content, camp as Christmas, huzzah! My new favourite couple, can't remember the last time someone surprised me like Jake has. It wasn't perfect, it's only week 2 people, but the skill and pizzazz there bodes well for some amazing dances during the rest of the series.
Nah. Jake has huge potential and I loved his tango. But this is not how you salsa. Play it back and watch his feet. There were no steps: it was all leans and arms. I have real big problems with leans and arms. And yes, he does have hips. Which again, yes, is great at this point in the competition - I am so impressed he's not holding back. This was as out-there as outing in Outer Mongolia. But perspective, people, come on. 
Perspective? Pffft!

Judy and Anton
Well this was horrendous. The opening was bad bad bad, Anton, shame on you. When they actually started doing a bit more cha cha content together it seemed a bit better, like she actually had something to do and Anton as support. Her facial expression really made me feel for her, rabbit in the headlights. At least she got a lovely frock out of it...
A delightful frock and she looked so lovely, but poor Judy, she is so out of her depth she is drowning in a sparkly sea of Swarovski. Like Victoria Pendleton before her, I'm not convinced she really grasped what she was letting herself in for. Despite being a super-sized McFlurry fan of the show, I know I would never do it. Not for a besquillion pounds. And contestants like Judy merely remind me of that sad fact. 

Caroline and Pasha
I quite like Caroline's Ibiza-tango dress on the quiet, the Ibiza music on the other hand...Another of my favourite couples, there was a really good tango hidden under those bangin' beatz. I can see why Caroline was worried about how hard it was, there was a lot of content in there from Pasha. Loved her staccato and I now really want to see her do a cracking paso. 
That fact that this was relatively decent despite that seven-car-pile-up-crash of a song is testament to Pasha. How did he manage that? This was the equivalent of someone dancing their wedding dance to Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy: just, inappropriate. Caroline danced it well, and I like the pair, despite the loose clump of hair pounding her head like a caveman's club. Like poor Abbey last year - has Caroline upset the hair and make-up team? She deserves better! 

Tim and Natalie
Natalie looks amazing and ethereal as always, Tim has once again come in his own clothes. And is there anyone out there that Natalie Lowe can't teach to waltz, she's great. He had issues with posture, but a vast improvement on last week's cha cha, this should hopefully keep him in for another week.
Solid improvement and a classy affair from Ms. Lowe, darling of t'internet. I'm sure they can camp it up should it be required, but there is never need in a waltz. He's not a winner but he certainly should not be leaving this week. 

Sunetra and Brendan
She seemed a lot more relaxed this week and was really enjoying herself, first night nerves hopefully out of the way now. This was a good solid cha cha, but nothing much to write home about. As Darcy said, her top half is great but she needs to work on the footwork.
Sunetra can shake her thang. And what a dress. But Brendan, I implore: work on those feet. She has an infectious style and was really getting into it, but her unruly toes - more Tinky Winky than twinkle - really let her down. In cha cha, the feet really ought to be in contact with the floor as much as possible, and legs should be straight on the break. Of course, getting caught up in the moment of it all is more than understandable, but if she wants to continue without becoming dangerous middle-ground fodder, she needs to improve. 

Mark and Karen
The sweater! What is the sweater about? It could go down in SCD costuming history. Karen on the other hand looks gorgeous. This was so sweet it gave me a toothache, bordering on twee with Mark's super-white smile. I really don't know what to make of this one, I don't think it taught me anything about Mark's ability to ballroom dance. It wasn't BAD, it was just...there.
So Mark turned up dressed as a member of One Direction. That's hardly the look for an American Smooth style dance. Nevertheless, I liked this. I spider-sensed big nerves, which I think caught even Mark off guard at times. His timing was on-off, but on the whole it was quite a charming routine. 

Joanne and Scott
The worst song choice in the history of tango, dance, music, everything. God this was bad, the footwork was all over the place and gosh, the trout pout. But saying that, he got through the routine and there was no gapping - it was better than the cha cha, but that's not a great starting point. I'm sure he'll be in for another few weeks, so lets hope he's allowed to do a nice staid waltz.
This was about as tango as a banana. Get a GRIP, BBC. I don't for one moment believe that a professional dancer has chosen this piece of music. It was nothing short of wrong. And it's not helping Scott either. It was better than his cha cha, despite the odds being quite out of his favour. I think they both deserve to stay in for pure pluck. 

Pixie and Trent
Pixie looking like a Targaryen about to get married, Trent looking like a member of the cast of Anchorman. But it was lovely, proper waltz lovely, as we would expect. She's obviously the ringer, but what the hell, I like watching good dancing.
Yeah, ringer schminger. In a night of, let's face it, epic levels of mediocrity, a really darned good waltz was totes in order. Thankfully, these two delivered like a postman on Pro Plus. Stunning dress: check. Good technique: check. Appropriate music: check. I really enjoyed it, and I'm slowly warming to these two. She could be this year's safety car. Toot toot. Beep beep. How long before someone overtakes? 

Steve and Ola
This dance was like a complete guilty pleasure, Ola's costume, the dad dancing, but I couldn't help but like it. The perfect cha cha song of Treasure might have had something to do with it. It was fun, it was throwaway, but it was a cha cha.
It wasn't the best of dances. It wasn't the worst of dances. He's trying hard but isn't in his natural environment at all. I was kind of hoping Ola would have whipped him into a better cha cha routine than this, but such is Strictly. What I like about Steve is his determination and his smile whilst giving it his very best shot. 

Frankie and Kevin
This was odd. Rock and roll plus charleston - even the judges said it was weird. It was high-energy and content-packed though. A bit more swivel would have been nice, and dare I say it, I miss a bit of Charleston gurning!
Looking forward to their tango-themed foxtrot, their samba-themed waltz and their quickstep-themed cha cha cha. Seriously, a dance such as charleston is dependent on its own theme. Because there are no truly fixed steps in the same way there are in the ten dances of ballroom and latin, if the theme is cast aside, it's no longer quite a charleston. Not that this was at all danced badly. It wasn't as quirky-cute as Sophie's cooler-than-thou-hipster-charleston from last year - it just didn't have the same level of personality. But it was as sweet and frothy as a strawberry milkshake. 

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