Sunday, 8 November 2015

Samba Italiano

...don't worry, it's safe to come out from behind the sofa, the horrors of Halloween are over for another year. That also means we're now in November and Christmas is hurtling towards us, despite the fact there's still 10 celebs left! Claudia has even got into the Christmas spirit early by wearing a dress covered in baubles, how we love that woman.

Peter and Janette
Peter in the death slot? Oh my days, we thought it would never happen, and it means we get the Andre Sideshow out of the way early on. Not sure about Janette's wig, makes her look like Liza Minelli. Now, I saw the ITT training footage on Tuesday and called 10s straight away as part of the Peter redemption arc, it was always going to be a dance to suit him. It was good and the energy was off the scale, but it wasn't perfect; if you're going to do a whole routine based around synchronicity then you have to 100% nail it. Also, mouth choreography from the Jake Wood school, eg open it as wide as the Channel Tunnel.

Yep. The choreography was tricky and this was performed with the aplomb of a stage school brat in her first leading role as Annie. Enthusiastic, yes. Perfect, no. At first I thought there was a screen lag. Then I realised it was only affecting half my TV. Peter was a nano-second behind at many points. In dance, that's like a billion years and it was very noticeable. It was a fast and complicated routine, so there's no shame on Peter here. It's just it shouldn't have got 10s. Shame on you, judges. Or whoever is really deciding the scores.

Jamelia and Tristan
Well they got some nice outfits, as mentioned last week no one wants to go out in their Halloween outfit looking like a mouldy panda or and remnants of the dressing up box. Jamelia's ballroom has been pretty bad so far, and this was a marked improvement. The VW gives you a chance to really work on those ballroom basics, and while there were still some issues with hold this was a good effort. Whether it will save her for another week is a different matter, even with Len's walnuts on the line...

She's already in trouble so put the poor girl in the death slot. This was nice, and I loved Jamelia's red dress. It was also by far her best ballroom, if not her best overall dance yet. Problem with a Viennese Waltz in the death slot at this point of the competition - will anyone remember it? It would be a shame to Jamelia because she is improving and that is the point.

Carol and Pasha
Yes, Carol is still here. As lovely as she and Pasha are, I feel like their time should have come a few weeks ago. Her ballroom is definitely improved, but it's not going to get dramatically better. Also,  an Are You Being Served? theme is possibly the oddest choice for an American Smooth with a Shania Twain song, and a sherbet dip dress, so many odd mashups in that number!

I do agree with Frankie. They're the least competent couple now. Nevertheless, Bruno was incredibly harsh. Carol, like Jamelia, is improving. Some other contestants aren't and that isn't even being mentioned. 

Helen and Aljaz
Grey pyjamas, it just screams rumba, doesn't it? The VT with Helen's incredibly hammy friends was hilarious, get them their own naff ITV2 sitcom. I expect this to be balletic, and it was, but it was also a bit meh, they could have gone further and played to her strengths with amazing lines etc. Instead it gave us time to notice there was no hip action at all, it didn't even look like they'd tried to work on it. Three eights was daft, especially after the judges had been having a bit of a ding-doing about it.

Let's get real here. Helen's latin has not improved one bit. Her footwork was abysmal and her legs locked into a straight position like they were bound like that with duct tape. Len's inconsistent with his ranting, but I'm with him on this. This is like the Sorites Paradox of dance. How many rumba steps do you have to take out the rumba before it's no longer a rumba? 
So choreography poor, and technique poor, but 8s? Nonsense. Yes, she's balletic and graceful, Well stick her in a production of Giselle and be done. 

Jay and Aliona
First Argentine Tango of the series, and as my colleague at work said 'the idea of Jay doing the Argentine Tango gives me the googles', I'm still laughing. Also training footage in the VT and the Gotan Project, you are really spoiling us. This was a great, solid AT - it didn't blow me away but it was intense, had the old jigsaw legs and had the intricate footwork we like to see. Like the judges said, it lacked a bit of wow, but Jay's Game of Thrones faces and random moments of awkwardness make him human.

This was tricky because it did appear to be all about Aliona. But then in the Argentine Tango the man is a frame to display the lady. And Jay did that. It's just when it's supposed to be the male celeb at the centre of it, you'd expect to see more...him. So I thought back to my favourite Argentine Tango (nay, my favourite dance) ever, which was Mark and Karen. And they just had more of a noticeable connection than Jay and Aliona do. But this wasn't badly done at all, and he's still quite a exquisite dancer. 

Katie and Anton
More training footage, what the hell is going on, BBC? Nice to see a full-on-bit of ballroom too. It was a bit skippy in places, with a few stumbles from Katie; it's easy in the quickstep to make a mistake and lose the flow of the dance. A few gapping issues too, but they worked it out towards the end. Nice enough, but not winning material.

Ambitious and it's such a shame that this went a bit mibble in the middle. If this had gone well, I think we would have been smelling more 10s. But alas, this is the way it goes. I'm not convinced that this partnership can reach the final stages after that. If you can't ace a quickstep with Anton then there's little chance of acing anything else. But Katie is still delightful, she's doing well and is very much what the show is about. I can seen them doing a fabulous ballroom dance in Blackpool. Let's hope they get chance.

Anita and Gleb
I was very wary of the cleaners theme (I mean, why? ffs) but Anita actually looks as cute as a button, she can carry off pretty much any look. And as for it having a theme, it still had a hell of a lot of jive content in it, especially when you compare it to Helen's rumba. Anita is fearless and takes whatever you throw at her - including literally Gleb's body, he seems to want to hurtle at her at 100mph all the time! They did a great job, really sharp and full of energy. 

Not impressed that Anita didn't get clean dance (haha?!). By that, I mean, she didn't get one without an overt theme. Her technique is certainly not perfect, but at this stage in the competition Anita is squaring out to be the contestant with three magic things: natural dance ability, room for improvement and likeability. They are winning features. I now not only think she could win, I now think she will win. 
Lots of folks on Twitter complaining she wasn't wearing heels. Please tell me you believe that wasn't her decision. I think it could have helped her technique had she been wearing them, and I don't think she would have had much say about what was on her feet. 

Kellie and Kevin
What are those outfits about, they look like a pair of 1970s curtains. Also, excessive pointless faffing at the start, but once they got down to it there was a pretty nice waltz there. Kevin is the king of schmaltz and that sometimes works with numbers like this. Not much else to say, nice technique, nice flow, nice top line, it was all very....nice.

That I can barely remember this the day after doesn't bode well for these two. I have struggled to warm to any partnership in which Kevin is one half. There's a lack of authenticity. Don't ask me. I can't really put a finger on what I mean, but it's more him than her. This was nice, as Frankie says. I've nothing against it...

Jeremy and Karen
They are getting their money's worth out of that horse, aren't they? I always wondered what would happen when Jezza got something super-serious and non-smiley like the tango or paso, but then this happened. Although I do admit I was cackling away at the opening. It was a fairly decent stab at a tango, there were steps and skills and his great timing as ever. I'm also loving Karen's tiered saloon girl dress. I hope people are still voting for Jezza because SCD would be much less fun without him.

A HORSE! A HORSE! A TANGO FOR MY HORSE! It's like all these weird props, all these silly little dalliances with random swings, umbrellas, lightsabers etc, were all building up to this one surreal moment where there was a fake horse slap bang in the middle of the Strictly dancefloor. And there was Jeremy Vine, having a lovely time dancing in front of it. Jeremy is the heart of this year's competition. As I have stated before, he can dance. Yes, it's his own style. But it's dancing. He is pure joy. Long may he reign. 

Georgia and Giovanni
Nice to see these two graduating to the pimp slot, they've been plugging away at their dancing for weeks and it's paying off. The sight of beige samba outfits does make me want to weep though. So so so much faffing, I was falling asleep, and then BOOM, samba action! Energy throughout and the running promenade and spins were great. Like Bruno said, she wasn't just dancing but also performing, I think she might be the most improved of the lot. Also props to Giovanni for throwing together some great routines.

This was great. Possibly super fast for a samba I thought and Georgia had to sacrifice some technique just to keep up. But a great job with great music. Other than the faffing about at the start, it really captured the flavour of a ballroom samba. 

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