Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fright Night VI

There's been so many Halloween episodes of SCD now its outperforming any other horror franchise. Unless you count the franchise of Anton hamming it up for all it's worth. Really enjoyed the opening number, you can't do Scooby-Doo every year and this one got the pros doing some great dancing. Fingers crossed this will be a relatively grumpy-free Halloween!

Edit: I wrote that at the start of the show. This was a very grumpy Halloween. Reader beware. 

One of the worst episodes ever. 

Katie and Anton
Surprised this got the death slot considering I was looking forward to this one; Anton always gives good paso and the music was actually quite appropriate. Also, a dance that's a bit camp and haughty is made for Katie, not sure about the sparkly bra though. It was a bit patchy though, flashes of great stuff but also a fair few mistakes. I think the mistake she made at the start threw her off for the whole thing.
I didn't think she did too badly. It's still completely unfair to penalise Katie for poor latin when it's a result of the fact her partner can't do it. Bonkers when you think about it. 

Kirsty and Brendan
Well this was rather odd, and I don't think it had anything to do with Halloween. Brendan flying around like the Count from Sesame Street was actually a highlight. It wasn't as if it was terrible and it wasn't as awkward as some of their dances, but I think the problem is that she's not a natural performer and the Charleston is all about performing. Also find it a bit odd Kirsty doesn't know how to roll her head on her neck, that's not even dancing.
She isn't the most coordinated. Nothing about this made any sense at all. The arrangement of the song was strange. I genuinely can't think of anything to say. I haven't even the will to make a funny.

Jeremy and Karen
Well this was always going to be a little...out there...and Karen somehow always manages to look like a fabulous zombie every year. As expected, this was half-Thriller-half-awkward-attempt-at-salsa but he did the whole routine with typical aplomb. I think I might always use the word aplomb to describe Jeremy.
Thank goodness for Jeremy. I'm not going to pretend this was anything like salsa, but Len hit the nail on the head when he said Jezza dances with an 'awkward charm.' He isn't the best dancer by a long way but he is inexplicably watchable. Sent a little vote his way again this evening. It's not because he's horrendously bad either, like Widdy or Judy, as I don't usually vote for those contestants. He's a highlight of what is becoming a very mediocre series. 

Anita and Gleb
Anita looks amazing, just toeing the line between glam and fancy dress. Gleb looks like a cut-price Baratheon. Thought this was a wonderful song choice, if you're going to do Halloween you might as well make a waltz bit more interesting with this atmospheric number. Bit too much out of hold for me, but excellently performed from Anita. All done whilst running the risk of taking Gleb's eye out.
Any awkward head movements surely can be accounted for by the fecking horns of hair. Lovely, haunting song choice and what I thought was a really good performance. I am convinced that Anita is being consistently undermarked now. She is more natural than Peter and Helen combined. 

Jamelia and Tristan
Jamelia has no idea how spoilt she is getting to do a jive to the Time Warp. With this song, you either do it totally crazy and chatoic, or deadpan and detached and she didn't really manage either. Not her worst dance by far, but she was obviously a bit lost and confused - possibly due to having to remember to run over to a wardrobe and all that nonsense. And totally overmarked, what was that about? 
I can't even remember this, sorry. 

Jay and Aliona
Jay has been cremated and I think that's going a bit far for Halloween week, don't you? No one had any idea what this song was at all, and it's super-creepy, but oddly appropriate for a foxtrot. And yes, there was a foxtrot-American Smooth in there somewhere, you could even see Jay's amazing lines under all that staging. If anything, it was a bit understated for Halloween - who would have thought?
Jay's musicality makes my heart skip a beat. It is as though he completely merges with the music as he's dancing. It's exquisite to watch. This performance was a tad forgettable however. The over-theming and strange costumes did nothing for it at all. 

Kellie and Kevin
Pardon my French, but this was batshit crazy. School's Out on it's own actually turned out to be a surprisingly decent paso number, but 10 seconds of Hedwig's theme and Hogwarts styling meant it was all forgotten. Also, Kevin is super-great at the paso, but I think he forgot about Kellie somewhere along the way, I was watching him and not her. And even when the judges openly doubt the theme you know you're in trouble.
Most tenuous theme ever. And when the judges openly have concerns about the concept, don't you think it's time to rethink the production?

Carol and Pasha
Does Pasha have a...thing for green? The theming gave them an epic amount of time for them to waste not doing any rumba, and you can understand why. She's definitely come on with her technique, but the rumba was always going to be step too far for Carol.
It was never going to work. 

Georgia and Giovanni
A tango to Ghostbusters, any sense of reason has gone out of the window, although at least it's got a good beat underneath it for actually dancing too. I am totally cross however that she was not dressed as Zuul, Georgia would have looked stunning like that instead of a weird 90s grunge thing. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this but I did, it had technique and lots of content. How odd.
I just spent the whole routine disappointed that we are not going to see Georgia take on an actual tango. 

Peter and Janette
Strangely enough, this was one of the few dances that wasn't overwhelmed by the theme. It wasn't especially foxtrotty, but I think these two would have done that exact foxtrot any week. Slightly odd song, but not the worst offender of the night by far. Peter's not done a lot of ballroom, and as expected he was a bit too blocky and harsh for it.
I had no idea what dance they were supposed to be doing. 

Helen and Aljaz
At this point, everyone on Twitter was super-grumpy and there was basically a SCD mutiny going on. And then this came on and I...quite liked it, it was actually pretty cute and lifted the mood a bit. Samba wasn't a natural fit for Helen but Aljaz seemed to put together a good routine for it. There was samba, there were even samba rolls and I'll count my blessings this week for that.
There is no way this was worth a whole five points more than Anita's performance. Nevertheless, it had some good parts in it and was Helen's best latin to date. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Disco Salsa vs Actual Salsa

Just what is Kevin pointing at?
Are you sitting comfortably? Strictly snacks at the ready, phone on silent, Twitter all fired up? We're into week 5 now, and the series is comfortably underway, so let's get down to it...

Georgia and Giovanni
I have never seen so many shimmies in one place. For some reason the producers seem scared of doing latin-themed salsa, but this had a lot more content than a lot of the other *shudder* disco salsas we've seen. As with last week, Giovanni gave her a lot to work with and loads of steps, and she managed to keep the energy going throughout the whole thing. The lifts were a bit off, in that she stood still for a second to do a run-up to each one like a kid doing a handstand in the playground.

Carol and Pasha
Ah, a nice safe ballroom number for Pasha to propel Carol through. Saying that, she no longer looks like she's going to fall over when she's out of hold, although her random arm wafting was a bit odd and she looked quite lost at times. Not much to say, it was ok, but she's in the death slot and could be in trouble this week.

Anita and Gleb
That awkward moment when you turn up for Halloween a week early dressed as gothy Dothraki. This could have suffered the curse of the modern tango, but surprisingly it didn't. I loved Len's panther analogy, it was dark and mysterious, just in a different way. And the song worked, the beat underneath it was great and they managed to put staccato into something I wouldn't expect. Anita is going to come up the inside track and overtake the headline-grabbers, just you wait and see.

Peter and Andre
I was DREADING this, I was cringing at the mere thought of it I was expecting faces of Carol Vorderman proportions. In the end was decent, there was a bit of hip action and the arms were good. And then that 'beating heart' movement appeared and I wanted to hide behind a cushion. Nice Princess Jasmine outfit on Janette though, and we've made it through the Andre rumba and never have to see it again.

Kirsty and Brendan
Well there was training footage in the VT, who would've thought that sort of thing existed? This was easily her best dance; it moved well and the routine was complete. Maybe because of the simplicity of the Viennese Waltz and not having to worry about projecting out? Rather overmarked, but whatever, she's not the worst this week.

Ainsley and Natalie
Ainsley doing a jive dressed as a neon pink chef, this is our Saturday nights now. Natalie as ever looks absolutely fabulous and can style out anything. Ainsely's shoulders were once again way too high, he's starting to resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame with spangles. It was rather messy, which we've come to expect, but he was doing plenty of jive steps - although I wonder if it was good enough to survive another week?

Jamelia and Tristan
After the spangle-tastic surprise of last week's Charleston, Jamelia is finally back doing some ballroom for the first time since week 1. And in a neon pink ballroom maternity dress of all things. This was better than her car-crash waltz, her frame looked a lot better and she did have a good bash at the footwork. She lost her way a bit towards the end, and did some amusing 'eek, what the frig is going on?' faces.

Katie and Anton
Well this was hilarious, these two are so British it was perfect to do it very tongue-in-cheek. Also, the outfits were straight out of Dirty Dancing 'parents at Kellermans' style, which brightened my day immeasurably. And Katie doing more dancing than Anton, hilarious - quite disappointed that this was the time for the judges to have a sense of humour bypass. There were mistakes, but it was totally a salsa, with salsa-based music, which is revelatory enough these days.

Jeremy and Karen
A lovely, simple routine from Karen, to show that Jeremy can do a ballroom routine without jazz hands or comedy choreography - no need for Bruno to go off on one. Jeremy was also totally lost in the dance, I loved how he seemed to have a ponderous moment halfway through. Karen looks delightful too, they'd better get through or I won't be happy. 

Helen and Aljaz
This was a bit...underwhelming? It was a quickstep, there were steps and nice music and a pretty frock, but not much to write home about. Helen seemed a little uncomfortable at times, but as ever executed the routine very well. Maybe it was the routine? I feel like I missed something, but if you liked it, fine by me...

Jay and Aliona
I love Bon Jovi Paso, I do, especially when it's the Bon Jovi song with my name it in. This was the textbook example of how a paso to rock music works - it totally suited Jay's moody Game of Thrones demeanour too. Great shaping, and like Darcey said, those flamenco arms were awesome. A return to form after the quickstep stumble.

Kellie and Kevin
The training footage on ITT looked sha-mazing, and maybe while not quite the same sharpness, this was pretty good on the night. If it wasn't for Jay's jive two weeks ago we'd have been going crazy for this. Great kicks and flicks, loads of arm work, and as ever great musicality from Kellie - plus a foxy Chicago-esque dress. Her best dance so far.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Anton on Top

....and we're back! Movie week is over, and thankfully it gave us some properly good highs. Now it's time to knuckle down to some 'normal' dancing before Halloween is upon us.

Anita and Gleb
Anita starting with a solo, that takes some guts! But why ever not when you've got some pretty good samba action going on? Anita really gives everything when she dances, her attitude is wonderful to see. The samba is actually quite hard, unlike some of the others which people say are hard, and she was great at this - don't know what the lukewarm comments from the judges are about. Also, points for Gleb's 90s silky pyjamas that made no sense, but whatever.
#AnitaWuzRobbed strikes again. Given a death slot for a party dance? Meanies. Her samba action was pretty OK, and this would have had more pizzazz if she had been able to feed of the rest of the evening. Oh I know someone  has to go first. But it's never going to be Andre, is it? This was considerably better than Helen's stilted and stiff 'salsa' but I don't suppose that's the point. Pfft.

Daniel and Kristina
Kristina looks like an absolute delight, anyone else would look frumpy in a grey ballroom air-hostess number. This seems to go back to the usual Daniel formula: nice enough, fairly competent, but not setting the world on fire. His ballroom footwork is pretty good, and we knew Kristina couldn't go all out with the lifts, I'm sure he'll be here for another , please!
That dance itself was nice. But he's just going through the motions. He's doing the steps but not living the steps, not daaahhhncing, daaahling. He's naturally better musically than other contestants but if he's not willing to embrace the sparkle then his days are numbered. 

Kirsty and Brendan
I hold my breath when these two dance, only last week did I think it wasn't going to all come tumbling down - although her tumble to the floor at the end was actually quite arty this week! Brendan's sparkly vest is paled into insignificance as a distraction thanks to U2. I don't like U2 anyway, but this had no rhythm for her to get into, so it was just posing. On the plus side she looked spectacular. I hope they get to stay this week if only because she's actually improving.
This was not good. But then how is one supposed to attack to a piece of music so wholly apart from the movements you're being told to create? I'm not convinced it was even in the correct time-signature. Had Kirsty had Carol's piece of music, I suspect their places on the leaderboard may have switched. 

Georgia and Giovanni
What a delight of a dress, they just love Georgia and wardrobe. Now despite the comedy VT, Giovanni must have worked Georgia so hard this week because there was so much in this. She seemed a bit stilted at the start and then after the first sequence she just suddenly came to life and they were skipping away. And no gapping either, I think Giovanni may have been crushing her to him!
Cute although the arrangement of the music was clunky. I can't rant or rave about it. It was nice, I enjoyed it, but it didn't blow me away. 

Jeremy and Karen
These two always make me happy, and since the jive was basically going to be his worst dance they quite rightly went down the comedy route. And Karen dressed as the world's hottest rubber duck with a Bettie Page fringe, because why not? His legs were everywhere, but his timing was still pretty good. And the chicken walk, I love a chicken walk! 
Jeremy always makes me smile, and I'm a grumpy sod, so that's a huge achievement. He's a contestant whose best bet is going to be going down that comedy route. Despite this however, as Frankie says, his timing is not bad at all. He's a wee bit ungainly in his movement but I won't say he can't dance. He just has his own... style. 

Kellie and Kevin
Kellie has three victory rolls in her hair and I am so jealous I can't contain myself. It's also a Kevin Clifton schmaltz-fest too, which I'm kind of happy to go with for this, you've got to do something with a foxtrot. It was all very lovely, classic ballroom and good technique. Good job guys!
If Strictly Come Dancing were a snack bar then this would be cheese on toast. Schmaltz-overload, but in a good way. Hair looked like a station on a Strictly themed course of crazy golf. 

Jamelia and Tristan
Jamelia looks amazing; spanglicious dress that was obviously destined for Ola and that wig really suits her! The training footage this week looked absolutely terrible but she really pulled it together on the night, great swivel, good musicality and they'd obviously put a lot of work into it. A few messy footwork bits and the lifts could have been better, but such a vast improvement from her cha cha.
Well look at this. Yet more improvement from Jamelia. Admittedly this has been the second 'non-regulation' dance in a row (as if regulation has anything to do with the others any more...) I do wonder how she will cope with something more structured, however. If she can give us the 'ballroom princess moment' I think we may be seeing one of the greatest 'journeys' since Darren Gough. If she doesn't manage that, she'll be gone in a week or two. 

Jay and Aliona
Well what do you do to follow the epic-jive-of-epic-ness? With a very confusing and unnecessary intro, as far as I can tell. I think Aliona may have tried to cram too much into this, it was all over the place and I couldn't quite tell what was happening. It does also show Jay is a human being, which I think might have been handy after our collective hysteria last week.
This was always going to be a disappointment after that jive. I only hope that Jay isn't so hard on himself. I suspect there will be a couple more tricky weeks before he wows us again but I'm genuinely hoping he has it in him. 

Carol and Pasha
This was worth it just to see Pasha flaring those nostrils for all it's worth. This was possibly the slowest paso there's ever been, although hurrah for the return of the circus music. Carol also looked pretty good and had definitely improved, mainly because Pasha had concentrated on the basics rather than covering it up with props etc. I think she's earned herself a chance to stay - it's also nice to see a lot of improvement from people this year.
Traditional music and costume. And how much better was Carol's Paso for it? If Kirsty had had this music, I think she would have done much better. I can't see Carol going anywhere after this. The people like her. 

Natalie and Ainsley
I can only imagine how happy Natalie was to get a waltz after last year's penguin debacle, not sure about her Barbie does Ballroom dress though. A nice ballroom number with no crazy faces, and I think this was the first dance Ainsley's done where his shoulders weren't somewhere north of his ears. And then we all cooed appreciatively at the rare sighting of some heel leads.
Ainsley has the ability to be a very good dancer, so I hope they stop trying to turn him into a joke. Natalie is the best pro teacher on the show, and it was reflected in this technically sound waltz. 

Helen and Aljaz
Well this was an interesting hotch-potch of things. It was better than I was expecting, since her ballet-ness was going to make her a bit stiff - they did seem to have worked on it. Although the first lift looked like something out of Swan Lake. Not a complete disaster, but could have been better. Also didn't expect Helen to mug the camera for about half the routine!
There are no words.

OK. There are lots of words. Mostly sweary words. I'll try to hold back. As someone with a little experience of this style of dancing, I can honestly say that this looked more like a broomstick than a salsa. Or much like what a broomstick would look like dancing a salsa. This was never going to be Helen's dance, and I appreciate her effort. Her dance style is balletic and elegant, which is lovely in most dances, but this did not work. What I object to are the ridiculous scores. Her isolations were as awkward as a middle class grandmother at a pole dancing class. Jamelia's was better. Controversial? True. Yes, the lifts were good but here we go again with the whole Jake Wood thing. "AMAZING LIFTS! GREAT SALSA!" What the actual fleckerl?! Salsa is more than lifts. At least Jake moved his hips. Get a grip, Strictly, get a flipping GRIP. 

Peter and Janette
The Andre Sideshow rolls into town once again...This was quite good, but a little bit perfunctory? I quite liked the song choice, but it might have hindered them in the end as it doesn't really build to anything. The technique was better than last week's paso mess, so well done for that. Peter seems to have done boxy, stompy dances forever at the moment, is he ever going to do something flowy?
And breathe.

This was OK. Like Helen, he could come out, wander around for a minute and a half and still get 8s. I think he might be a robot. I'm still angry about Helen's salsa. Writing about that has brought it all flooding back. I can't quite think now.

Katie and Anton
Anton doing a Viennese Waltz in the pimp slot? Oh my days. And it pretty much brought the house down. It wasn't perfect, there were a few trotty bits from Katie, but the flow of it and the choreography was wonderful. The run of pivots near the end was amazing. As is Katie's dress. Katie might not be as funny as Jeremy, but she does give off that wonderful sense of having a great time that is very infectious.
Lovely. It wasn't as good as made out but on a night of exceptionally mediocre performances (It's Jay's fault - what's going to top that jive?) it was a nice end. As much as I thought it was a tad overmarked, I was delighted to see Anton at the top of the leaderboard. I know it has been engineered to be so, but this one I don't really mind. Anton is great at ballroom, we know that, but what frustrates me is that Katie could be great at BOTH if only Anton...wait for it... GOT A GRIP too (I might as well roll with this...)

Sunday, 11 October 2015


The theme weeks are upon us! Well, at least they're easing us in with Movie Week and there's no scary guest judge in the shape of Donny Osmond this year. Although we did have the utterly surreal opening, where the contestants were used as human props like some sort of moving Madame Tussaud's.

Carol and Pasha
Pasha in uniform alert! It isn't quite Gethin proportions, but I'll take what I can get in Movie Week. I was not expecting anything much from Carol doing a quickstep, it's hard enough for anyone to do that dance so early - but I definitely saw some improvement. Also, props to Pasha for doing a pretty normal quickstep rather than anything too gimmicky.

Poor Carol. I thought this was a significant improvement on her efforts in the previous two weeks. The fact that she scored less for it made me sad. It actually had quite a lot of quickstep in it. And yes, in parts she was being dragged about like Linus' security blanket, but she was performing it more too. One extra point wouldn't have gone amiss. Just saying. 

Anthony and Oti
This didn't have to be a Movie Week special, what with all the take-your-partner-to-work faffing about they've done this year. I can't comment too much on his paso-ing, because I was mainly looking at a) his arm and b) Oti being absolutely amazing at the paso! He did actually look like he was in pain, but it was pretty stompy. Although he was working very hard, and we love a hard worker, I want him to stay so he has a chance to get better.

Oti really has her work cut out choreographing for someone who basically only has one working arm. Like the judges, I spotted timing issues too, which is something I find very difficult to forgive. This was one of those dances where the theme really annoyed me. A Paso Doble has its own style, and to put random punches in it, is just to ruin it. Pretty cruel to make him do a paso so early. The paso is so arm intense. I'm worried for them... 

Katie and Anton
Slightly upset to see Katie hasn't gone for thigh-high PVC boots look, but there's no going back to the Proms after that. After two show-stopping first dances, this was a bit of a letdown as a pretty run-of-the-mill cha cha. And then Anton went on and on for about a year on choreography, I don't like props but I think they missed him having a MASSIVE Richard Gere mobile phone.

Here we go. I was kind of hoping Anton would step up a Gere (boom boom) but this highlighted issues with him, rather than Katie. We know he's not a latin man, but most of that choreography was a world of horrid (although I liked to see it being danced on 2 and to see some recognisable basics.) To be fair, several of last week's latin dances consisted of very little more than strutting about, but I think the disappointment lay with the fact that the public has really been behind these two. I'm pleased Anton took the blame for the choreography, something he didn't seem to grasp years ago when he was dancing with Laila. Anton, I implore you not to give up and start hamming it to stay in. Study, work every hour there is and create routines for Katie that are worthy of her. Don't do it again, man. 

Kellie and Kevin
Well this was delightfully bonkers. I was willing to give it a go, since the Cantina song is absolutely perfect for a Charleston, and will now be humming it until at least Christmas. She had great swivel, kept up with Kevin and it was prime eyes and teeth material. I could have maybe done with a bit more energy in the lifts, but Kellie's best dance so far, easily.

I cannot tell you how much I hated the intro. But then, but then. This was an absolutely perfect song for a charleston, and using the light sabres as canes made them a more than acceptable prop. It was so in sync, sharp and perky, it was a joy to watch. Kevin may be in with a chance of keeping up his record of never being in a dance off... 

Ainsley and Natalie
Those costumes scare me, it's like an odd halfway house between dance wear and fancy dress, is this a microcosm of all that is wrong with theme weeks? Saying that, Natalie is a choreography genius to have that foisted on her and still make it look like a cha cha! Also, amazing song, obviously, and that will take you halfway there in a cha cha. Ainsley is turning into a bit of a hot mess though, I'm hoping he gets some restrained ballroom next.

I love these two. But I hated this dance with a passion worthy of a 19th Century gothic novel. To me, she didn't quite manage to make it look like a cha cha, though I imagine that was one huge ask. Ainsley's natural musicality didn't help him when it came to dancing the parts that actually were based on cha cha. But this is where Natalie's utter genius kicked in. I don't know whether it was on purpose or not, but when he pickled up the first cha cha sequence on 2, she seemed to switch to match him dancing on the 1 later on in the routine. That is called adapting to your partner's needs. Bravo, Nat. 

Georgia and Giovanni
Raunchy rumba alert, James Bond Cliches alert! They rolled everything into that VT, although Georgia being super-northern livened it up to no end. This had flashes of greatness, especially for such an early rumba, but she didn't seem to remember to use her hips all the time. I reckon if she got to do it again in a final or something it could be amazing. Also, this could have come from any week, so :P to you, Movie Week.

A what is now all-too-usual lack of actual rumba. The term just seems to cover 'any slow sort of dance' on the show now. I would have liked to have seen more steps and less posing. I would have liked to have seen some footwork, technique and body movement. She wiggled but it wasn't from the feet. We all know what Ms, Hardy says. But alas, non. What they did was OK but I'm reluctant to call it rumba. 

Helen and Aljaz
Helen's dress, that dress, all the dresses and then that dress. It's like Lilia's Candyman jive dress made ballroom. This couldn't have been anything but a delight, it's Helen doing ballroom pretending to be a crazy Hollywood legend. And Aljaz dressed as a seaman *snigger*, rather than Jack Lemon in drag. Someone should've slung this a 9. A foxtrot is hard to make exciting, and the best way to do it is old Hollywood - great work guys.

Of course this kind of theme is completely acceptable as it's so in line with the mood of the original dance. This was so 'American Smooth' style it really grates with me that the show insists on having that as a separate dance, but that is a rant for another day. A great week three dance but it didn't blow me down, me hearties. 

Daniel and Kristina
He surprised us with his Charleston last week, but this was the cringe-fest we were all expecting then. Kristina did well throwing the cha cha basics in where she could, but I couldn't get over Daniel's mile-high hair! When Bruno goes off on a monologue about not committing to the dance enough you know something's gone wrong. Although like Craig says, he does have good timing, the basics are there - and he's bound to be with us for a while. 

I thought this had more than enough content and again, danced on 2 which Daniel did marvellously, and thus, delighted me. I mean, it was as cringe-worthy as a drunk uncle doing the moonwalk at your grandma's 80th birthday, but his timing is generally very good. Mostly I was distracted by the fact that I have been looking for a lemon yellow skirt much like the one Kristina was wearing in the routine. And by the fact that there was a rogue apostrophe on Daniel's jacket. Someone on the production team didn't pass GCSE English. Tut. 

Kirsty and Brendan
So the makeup looks like a child smeared it on their faces, but Kirsty's 90s bunches are super-cute, as is the dress. After the *ahem* dogs dinner of her first couple of dances this was a definite improvement, she seemed a lot more comfortable all of a sudden. Still a bit stiff and some mistakes, but it didn't look like it was all going to come tumbling down at any point. The band did a great job of the song, by the way.

It was an improvement but yet another example of how theme weeks are blooming ridiculous. This song could have been used as an homage to the movie without the crazy costumes. I can't even think of much else to say without ranting... Next week I'd like to see her improvement. Without the distraction of whiskers.

Peter and Janette
I may have to rename Peter something lame like Sir Stomps-alot, I'm surprised Janette didn't get whiplash from that routine. It was pose-stomp-pose-stomp all the way through. And as Darcey said, the side-by-side section was the awkward bit because it showed Janette was dancing and Peter wasn't. Thankfully, the judges didn't shower it with 10s like I was expecting.

Oh it just didn't need the pirate theme. Arrrrrrrr. Grrrrrr. Paso has its own feel that is so integral to the dance itself that forcing a theme on this dance is more of a crime than forcing it on most others. Again, the theme tune could have been used without dressing Peter as an unconvincing Jack Sparrow. If they had been able to concentrate on the actual dance rather than pretending to be pirates, perhaps it wouldn't have been so stompy and stoppy-starty. 

Jamelia and Tristan
This was all a bit..meh? It was nice, probably her best dance, but there wasn't really a lot to it. In week one, they probably could have gotten away with it, but after being in the dance-off last week they had to pull out something special. Tristan's McDonalds-in-the-70s outfit was something to behold. Weirdly, weirdly overmarked.

Part of what was so horrendous about Jamelia's cha cha last week, actually lent itself well to salsa. I won't rant about the inappropriate music, but actually her 'looseness' (yes, yes, I know, I know) ensured that this was by far her best dance yet. Ballroom and latin specialists are often guilty of dancing salsa with straight legs, in a polished manner, in line with their previous training. But salsa shouldn't be like that. So her lack of what the pros and judges might consider 'technique' actually worked well for her. I liked this, and think it was scored appropriately. I'm just not convinced she will do another dance as well...

Jeremy and Karen
We love these two, and Jeremy looking like a bean pole in a tux, although I was worried for a Charleston. I thought Karen did a great job with the choreography for this one; it wasn't too fast, used his natural rhythm and they did a lot of the work together. And there was swivel! He actually got better as the routine went on as his confidence built and sold it all the way - long may they stay!

Not one judge mentioned Jeremy's impeccable timing. His coordination isn't great but I'm convinced that movement is easier to learn than musicality. He always looks happy and at this stage in the competition, he's really selling it. They were in sync, and the choreography wasn't at all simple. Go Jezza! 

Anita and Gleb
Anita looks lovely with a pixie cut. I have no idea what that dance was, or even if I liked it. I think Gleb tried to do a bit too much with it, was it a rumba? Was it a waltz? She randomly flew through the air at one point, was it an AS? The less said about the scary crawling the better. The technique was good and she has ballroom potential, but my least favourite of theirs so far.

I'm not quite sure what was American or smooth about this. That irks me. It's not even a real dance anyway, it's a style, and if you don't do the style...well, what the hell is it? As far as Strictly is concerned, they almost use it as an umbrella term for, well, freestyle. This was danced so well, and I love Anita. But, it didn't do anything for me. 

Jay and Aliona
I love how they finally picked a song where Jay was allowed to scowl through the whole thing, his facial expressions are one of my highlights of the year. And woah, what a jive, those kick-ball-change spinny things! A lot of content but also a lot of style. I think any ringer questions have been well and truly answered now, but it's combined with performance and that crazily intriguing face of his.

OMG. This was extraordinary. He's clearly had some dance training in the past, but even so, no number of classes could buy talent like that. His technique was amazing. Yet, he danced it 'cool'. Very few of our male celebs have managed that level without 'camping it up' in order to do so. Remember how Darren Gough managed to dance a quickstep like a 'bloke' - Jay's jive wasn't on that level... it surpassed it. I know some of you on Twitter will disagree but I think this may have just toppled Jill Halfpenny as Leader of the Jive. Yes, both have things better than the other, but a dance hasn't enthralled me like this for seasons. I'm not going to grumble about early 10s. It deserved more than one. LOVED IT. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Strictly Exhausting...

I hope you've been limbering up, because it's that time of year again, the annual marathon-length episode of SCD where every single contestant dances. We've been in prep all week and we're lacing up our sparkly trainers ready for the off...

As any Strictly Blogger will tell you, the second week is our Everest. 

Jamelia and Tristan
She's dressed as Sinitta and pretty much pulls it off, even with the mega-80s hair. She seemed a lot more comfortable with this one, which always helps the overall look of the thing, but her legs were as bent as a London copper in a 1970s film. She looked like she was trying to sit down at times. Saying that, it's early days and people seem to think she should be better than she is.
Whilst their costumes were a Take-Me-To-The-Emerald-City delight, the dance was, erm, not. Tasha on TV said on Twitter that her dress looked like a Quality Street and I think that goes a long way to explaining why I liked it so much. Mmm green triangles. Now, the dance itself, well. She looked like a giraffe in Moon Boots. It did have rhythm but it had next to no finesse. Either Tristan has not put any focus on actual technique, or she is truly not very good. Remember Michelle Williams? 

Daniel and Kristina
I thought this was going to be an absolute car-crash, with Daniel ending up lying on the floor in a heap or something, but it really wasn't! Lots of steps, cute song, looked like he was enjoying himself, it was all pretty cute. There were also some mad bits, like the hopping around in a circle and the solo where he looked like he was being electrocuted - but overall a great job by Kristina.
While we expected Jamelia to be good, we expected Daniel to be all kinds of abysmal. And he wasn't. He really wasn't. He had swivel and he had bounce. Where we expected him to robot his way through, he actually came alive (alive -oh.) Yes, he looked a little stumbly and unsure in parts but Kristina is one smart cookie and always knows how to get the best out of her partners. All in all, a pleasant surprise. 

Kirsty and Brendan
She had a lot to make up for this week, and there's nothing like high stakes like that to make someone stupidly nervous. While this was better, it still wasn't good, and really quite stiff during the whole thing - you could tell she was feel awkward. And holding on to that skirt for dear life, the hem must be shredded!
Since when did strutting about become an acceptable replacement for actual dancing? Again - what a a lovely dress. A rather huge bravo to the costume department this evening. But that dance was bordering on 'Meh.' Brendan is pretty much King-of-Choreography so I'm starting to think there's something bigger at play here. Have they had steps foisted upon them? Are they not getting on too well? I don't know but something's not quite right. 

Jay and Aliona
Oh Jay, you are allowed to look like you're enjoying it, especially when you're that good! I really didn't care about Jay when this started, but in two weeks he's turned me around. He even pulls off some pretty mad SCD fashion choices, and those spins were amazing. Nice to see Aliona is still obsessed with spinning in circles and wafting your arms about, but then again, she's finally got someone who doesn't look like he's going to fall over at any second.
Can I take credit for the fact he cut his hair? I have been suggesting it since the launch show. What a lovely waltz. He is trying really hard, he's learning and it's really starting to show. His turns are as elegant as any I've seen, and now we've seen him in both latin and ballroom, I really think we're on to a potential winner here. Yes, already. 

Iwan and Ola
Oh my word, those outfits, and Ola's been triple-dipped in the tanning booth. These was pretty content-light; they were literally halfway through the routine before the cha cha started, and that was with some pretty abysmal New Yorks. I'm not sure if this was an attempt at comedy, but it just didn't work.
Stompy, off time and really quite... annoying. This was about as cha cha as a chargrilled artichoke. He has no idea how bad he is, has he? Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? I shall say no more. 

Georgia and Giovanni
Georgia's dress is gorgeous, not a traditionally waltz dress, but very classy. Her hold could have been better at times, but she was surprisingly good for her first turn at ballroom. There was rise and fall (well I thought there was, despite what Len said) and she seemed pretty comfortable with the routine. I can even forgive this year's debut of what is known as 'that bloody swing'.
Nice but not perfect, which is kind of where it's good to be at this stage, providing you don't get completely and utterly lost in the middle. These two are all kinds of adorable. Like two little macarons in a Parisian patisserie. I suspect she's going to enjoy latin more, but does have huge potential in ballroom too. Expect the 'Princess Moment' around week 5/6. 

Ainsley and Natalie
Well, we were expecting this to be bonkers, and it was as camp as knickers. Natalie Lowe is a genius and this routine was perfect for Ainsley, even though his shoulders were up by his ears once again. I also got distracted by his T-Rex arms, but the whole thing was such a laugh, who really cares?
Utter perfection. This was wonderful in a Mark Benton kind of way. In that, under all the madness, is someone who can actually hold together a decent dance. I don't even care that it more ketchup than salsa. 

Carol and Pasha
I spent most of this waiting to see when they were going to ditch the umbrella, and they didn't. And as much as I hate props, that made it more interesting, because the dance was D-U-double-L. It was better than last week, obviously, but there isn't really much else to say.
So a contestant is visibly struggling in the competition. Let's give her a prop to hold throughout her routine. That will help. Not. Mind you, the umbrella did distract me from everything else so perhaps it had a purpose. Bless her heart, I can't see her lasting long. Still, they have each other. And can stand under that umbrella. (ella ella eh eh etc.)

Kellie and Kevin
I don't see how there could have been a more appropriate song choice for these two, it's so twee and cute. There was so much literal choreography in this I was surprised Kevin wasn't dressed as a clown. There was lots of cheeky cha-cha-ness in this, and while there could have been more basic steps, Kellie seemed better than last week. It didn't raise the roof, but it's only week two, and better than a lot of the duffers we've had tonight.
Come on Kev, give the girl some actual steps. She can dance. 

Anthony and Oti
After last week's surprisingly good jive, the waltz was only going to be a bit of a comedown for Anthony. Not to say he didn't try his best, it was a classic week one male waltz - a bit tentative, looking at the ceiling, just trying to get through it. He totally deserves to stay, since him and Oti are one of the more interesting couples on the show this year.
Q. Can't waltz because of bad shoulder? A. DRAG YOUR WOMAN. Q. Still can't waltz because of bad shoulder? A. DRAG HER AGAIN. Cunning use of choreography by Oti, which kind of made me forget he was injured anyway. Poor lad looked terrified but then they always do up until they have the Matt Dawson Moment™.  

Anita and Gleb
I loved those outfits, rarely do outfits on SCD actually look independently stylish. Great song choice, loads of steps, proper acrobatics. And despite Bruno uncharacteristically making a meal of it, their timing and syncopation was pretty amazing considering it's week 2! Anita's gotten off to a flying start and it looks like Gleb knows how to put together a good routine, long may it last...
A swing-dancing friend of mine did not rate this, so perhaps that was where the judges were coming from. But in addition to last week's cha cha, overall, Anita has been pretty much robbed. She is the most natural dancer on the show this year. Why Len picked on this for lack of content when he let Kellie and Kevin's non-cha go by without comment is beyond me. Conspiracy. CONSPIRACY.

Jeremy and Karen
We love Jezza, you can't help it when someone is genuinely enjoying themselves so much. I also loved how this routine was put together to fit the song's highs and lows, great job Karen (along with your amazing flouncy skirt). He's worked hard, and we love a hard worker on SCD. The lifts were a bit ropey, but at least they did them successfully. I want more from these two, hoping they stay in!
I have no idea why I loved this, but I did. OK, the library theme may have helped. If there's only one theme I can get on board with, it's that. Or perhaps it's that despite him being somewhat uncoordinated, he is actually dancing in time to the music.  Or perhaps it's just that he's a jolly nice chap having a jolly nice time. Whatever the reason, I'd like a few more weeks of Jezza please. His joy is entertaining. 

Katie and Anton
Anton was doing a tango to Lady Gaga, I was expecting someone to have a telephone on their head and Anton pretending to be Beyonce - BUT NO! About 20 seconds in I realised Anton had surprised us by playing it straight and it blew my mind. It wasn't the best technically, but it's week two and they created an authentic, moody and dramatic tango - what more do you want? And Katie's dress, wow, what a perfect choice.
Now this is how pop music should be incorporated into ballroom. What a lovely arrangement of Telephone. Big hurrahs to the SCD band. It was perfect. And the dance was good. And the dress was lovely. And well done to Anton for not being a plonker. Yays all round! 

Peter Andre
Another great outfit, how they didn't swamp Janette in a midi skirt I do not know. This was so jam-packed full of steps their feet were practically a blur, I think Peter might have missed a couple but it's hard to tell. Although apart from the Charleston steps, not much going on quickstep-wise and could have had more work on the top line and hold.
Peter has a way that even mid-quickstep it seems like he's going to try and break out into locks and pops. I'm naming it a ... Hipstep. Of course it was excellent for a week two dance. However, there were errors and these weren't reflected in the scores he received. 

Helen and Aljaz
Helen is such a luvvie, it's a delight, Uptown Girl was the perfect song choice. She shouldn't have tried to do the sexy face, she should have been totally prim. Aljaz in dungarees was a pretty nice distraction too. The dancing? This was never going to be as easy for her as the waltz, but they had a respectable stab at it. If this is an early sign, she's going to struggle with the more hippy latin dances. 
This was hyped on ITT, so perhaps that was why I felt a little disappointed. She was given the #PimpSlot so the show was clearly expecting much from her and it was a lovely bedazzling bombshell of a cha cha, but like Peter's dance, it wasn't perfect, and if Anita was undermarked, then this was truly over. She wasn't all that hippy; it was stilted, but oh-so-styled, which compensated somewhat. Extra cute dress though. And Aljaz dressed as a mechanic? That itself should have its own show.