Sunday, 18 December 2016

Oduba-lieve in Miracles

So here we are, after a really quite odd year on Strictly, the final is now upon us. We're back to three people, which makes it seem a bit more manageable, but also all the more competitive.

Now, we don't usually describe final dances we've seen before, but here's  a quick run-down. Ore and Jo lived their American Smooth dream, and he brought some more musicality - it also takes balls to do a dance where you're throwing a prop around all the time in the final. Louise's cha cha seemed an odd choice, and while a bit better in technique her 'wooo I'm so fun' moves were super-cringey. Danny's quickstep was knocking everyone's socks off, and then they made a tiny mistake and everyone went mental and we're losing our minds.

Ore and Joanne
When this song was previewed during the week, we all knew where Jo was going with this - and rightly so, always play to your partner's strengths. Ore certainly delivered and him and Jo have always been a brilliantly-matched pair. The section on the drums looked a bit frantic, but hey, at least no one fell off or tumbled into the audience (it's going to happen one day, I tell you!). It was delightful and perfect for them, but didn't knock my socks off.

Whilst it was a tad annoying it was a sort of rehash of the Singin' in the Rain, I can understand the thinking behind it. It played hugely to Ore's strengths. It was suave and sophisticated and well, just plain lovely. I'm not convinced what's so special about a showdance these days given that every other dance has lifts, sizable portions out of hold and crazy-ass theming but hey, I can't knock this routine on its own merit.

Louise and Kevin
The choice of One Moment in Time meant this was never going to be a subtle number. There was dry ice, sheets, the longest lift ever, feet, Kevin grabbing random bits of Louise. It just went on and on, spinning and lifting over and over again. There was indeed emotion, which she has been missing for a lot of this series, but it came at the expense of a coherent dance.

This is more the sort of thing I expect to see from a showdance. But Louise, Louise, Louise. She just does not commit to movements (something which Bruno proclaimed greatly that she does after her tango, as though he read my mind and disagreed profusely with it.) It was wafty and non-committal. Not hideous, but not final-worthy.

Danny and Oti
How could you not be excited by the prospect of an Oti showdance? These two gave us everything they possibly could have, with content all over the place and some amazing lifts - at least one of them made me shriek, and I haven't done a lot of shrieking this series. Also, extra points for Oti's goddess dress.

Yep. This was a showdance and a half. Oti BROUGHT it this series and I'm grateful we have been able to see her showcase her skills. What a great addition to the show, she is. This was by far the best of the three. 

And then we had the favourite dances, all of which were perfect choices by the couples. Ore smashed the jive out of the building, Louise easily did her best dance of the night, but Danny and Oti brought the awesome samba of awesomeness that blew everyone away. It's too close to call, and we still have to say goodbye to Len.

That samba is officially The Best Dance of Strictly 2016. No argument.

...and what a goodbye that was, it was actually very touching and heartfelt. The group ballroom number was divine and the pros bowing to Len at the end was a real tear-jerker. Then, in a marked contrast, we get the hot mess that is the annual group number which always has us cackling away. Highlights included Gangram OBVIOUSLY, but also Rinder being spin-tastic, Daisy and Aljaz cycling yet again, Lesley camping it up, and Greg leaping around all over the place.

Weep. Now BBC, bring on Karen Hardy. Come on, you know you want to. And group number was all kinds of awesome. I do so love it when they showcase each celeb in order of the Strictly story.

Then we finally get to the winner...which dramatic lighting...all very tense...ORE AND JO! A deserved win after raising their game and really going for it in the final, plus they've been a brilliant pair throughout the series. Joanne's stunned reaction and simple statement of "you're a dancer" summed up the whole thing wonderfully. A fitting end to the series!

A deserving win and one of the most touching announcement moments ever. It clearly meant as much to Jo as it did to Ore, and that was delightful to see. After a series that has annoyed as much as delighted, this was actually a cracking final with excellent dances. Bring on next year!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Strictly Chaos

Well after last week's lacklustre affair than was Musicals, we needed a lift to get us excited for the final, and we certainly got one! This week was basically crazy, but amid it we did actually have some great dances and people really going for it to get to the final - let's roll...

Louise and Kevin
Because there's nothing more passionate and moody than conveyor belt chic. There was a tango hiding away in this, and Louise's performance has definitely improved, but you also had Kevin gurning at everyone over her should looking oh-so-pleased with himself. Considering her Argentine Tango was her best dance, they should have taken some of the lessons from there, but the themeing wouldn't allow for that.
Half expected Brucie to pop out from behind the conveyor belt. To be fair, that would have been less weird than this actual dance. I doubt we can blame Louise and Kevin for the surreal theme and even-stranger-than-usual-and-that's-saying-something song choice but I still don't think it was as good as the judges made out. 

Danny and Oti
Now this was something to get excited for, these two are on fire at the moment and they even had a proper song. This had lots of fluidity and intricate shapes that you want to see. Also, lifts that actually fit with the routine rather than gymnastics just for the sake of it. I could have done with a bit more in hold, but there was a lot going on there and such much more dynamic that the other couples. Very much looking forward to their AS.
YAAAAAS! SALSA, BABY! Ok, so Marc Anthony is on the 'poppy' side of salsa but this is about as good as it will ever get on Strictly, and the choice was more than fine by me. Such a catchy one too. Can't knock the lifts and fancy arm work but I did agree with Craig. I would have liked to have seen more basics and hips. Nevertheless, there are styles of salsa where the men just seem to lead and lean. Let's pretend they were going for that. 

Claudia and AJ
Claudia definitely raised her performance game last week, which you really need for a rumba. Especially when you have a bit of a clunky song like Bleeding Love. I actually quite liked this, Claudia has a very strong core and was able to use it very well in this, and they resisted the temptation to try and fill it with gymnastics. Plus it's nice to see Claudia being able to do something without having to pretend she's 10 years old. No, it didn't set the. world alight, but it showed improvement.
Bad luck getting a rumba in the semis. This had beautiful shaping (as to be expected from an artistic gymnast) but lacked fluidity, I think the judges were a tad harsh though (or there were too soft on others *cough* Louise *cough*)

Ore and Joanne
Well those were some...interesting outfits. This really reminded me of their week one tango; lots of strange unnecessary gimmicky bits amid quite a good dance. Everyone (by which I mean judges AND Twitter) said they loved it, I was a bit confused by it all. And then scoring drama broke loose and Len stood up and Claudia fell over a crash-mat and I have no idea what's going on any more...
I'm writing this less than 24 hours later and I can't remember what the dance was. That doesn't bode well does it?

And change, let's go round again (maybe we'll turn back the hands of tiiiiime...)

Louise and Kevin
Once again, Louise in a dodgy outfit I'm not sure she was completely comfortable in. This was all a bit underwhelming, would have been fine in week four or five but this was the semi final. She did seem comfortable, but has Kevin ever actually told her she shouldn't be looking at her feet all the time? It was alright, and like the judges said, had plenty of classic samba content, but we need to be wowed at this stage.
It's like the were going for a Pixie Lott stylee samba. But Louise ain't no Pixie. Great music but everything else about this was meh. Like you're expecting a pina colada and you get a tin of pineapples from Lidl.

Danny and Oti
I feel like Danny has been waiting all series, nay his whole life, to do the American Smooth. This was also a divinely classy piece of music and a wonderful routine amid a night of craziness and unnecessary drama. It flowed beautifully and told a story, there was more than one bit that made me gasp and it built to a dramatic ending. Also, lovely vintage costumes. I lost it when this didn't get a 40.
Yas, it was good. Danny is good. He's totes a ringer but when the ringer manages to improve, and builds a wonderful partnership, it's totally forgivable. Jay peaked too early last year but Danny gets better week on week. There's the difference. 

Claudia and AJ
She raised her game last week and then did it again this week, she now looks like she both enjoys it and really wants it. Small gapping issues, but her stuff in hold has really improved. Plus now she is able to keep up with what AJ is giving her, and he gave her pretty much everything possible in that and she still nipped along happily with it all. Good on her, it could see her through to the final.
Zippy and perky. Loved it.

Ore and Joanne
I couldn't get entirely on board with this unfortunately, although I though the song was a very good version for the AT. The elements where there, but I was feeling uber-concentration rather than passion coming from them. Plus, grey velvet is a bit of a weird look. I also think there was a bit too much Joanne in it, I know the tango can do that with the women, but he could have had a bit more footwork. 
Couldn't get past the music I'm afraid. OK, it was tango-fied but the strict 2/4 beat made it a much better choice for a ballroom tango. It was too heavy for a soft, seductive Argentine tango and that ruined it for me.