Sunday, 5 November 2017

Seventh Heaven

We're halfway there, in week sev-ern with Halloween behind us and Blackpool on the horizon. You'd think we'd be flagging by now, but no, there's a stonker of a show ready for you here!

Alex and Gorka
In the death slot, but looking fiiiine, and great to open the show with something that’s actually good for once! Alex travels across the floor beautifully and commits to every move. The footwork was really intricate, but she seemed to take it in her stride, and even managed to avoid Craig’s pigeon-toed drama. Also, top, top, top 10s celebrations from these two.

Very happy to have a decent dance - rather than a forgettable mid-table, mid-season exit type - open the show. One of the best executed cha cha chas in Strictly history in my opinion. It may not have had the overt confidence of Alesha Dixon's but the technique was better. This girl is a star. 

Mollie and AJ
A divine foxtrot song choice, and i’m kind of in love with that skirt. We know Mollie loves ballroom, and this was a perfectly lovely dance, probably one of her best so far and it’s hard to impress with a foxtrot. Her frame seems to have improved, so maybe Shirley’s core nagging has helped. Also enjoyed seeing AJ trying to put lifts in a non-lift dance by dragging her around on one toe.

Oh Mollie. This was sweet but almost forgettable. At this stage I'm starting to question AJ's choreography. Mollie has all the qualities of an excellent contestant - she has timing and coordination but something is just not setting the dancefloor on fire.

Joe and Katya
Not sure what those early Christmas outfits are about, and what-the-actual-eff are those CGI soldiers?! This was a delightfully cute routine though, and easily one of Joe’s best; he looked like he was having  a great time and at no point were we worried for him. Plus the lifts with impressive without any danger of death, a rare event this series!

My favourite of Joe's dances so far. I've had issues with his posture and bizarre body movement but this did not come across at all in the charleston. It was perky, fun, syncopated and speedy. Loved it. 

Gemma and Aljaz
Oh my word those outfits, I quite like the stonework on Gemma’s, but it’s just SO MUCH it’s like 90s Ibiza threw up on me. Hairy lifts, some salsa basics, and not much in between. I wanted to like it, but just no. Give Gemma some classy ballroom once again!

OK, so I haven't really had a rant about salsa this season. Brace yourselves. There is a complete lack of understanding about this dance. From the celebs, the pros, the show as a whole. This was far too steppy and there was no flow. Call me biased but salsa, more than any of the others, is not about the blessed steps. It's about fluidity of movement. Song didn't help. 

Aston and Janette
I mean, this is a beautiful song, a great choice for a VW, so there was no need to get the dressing up box out, it was so distracting and very DWTS in style. Not the best frame, and it didn’t help that it kept being broken up with random wafting. Aston seems more than capable of doing normal ballroom, it would be nice for him to be given the chance.

Not his best but Craig was brutal. BRUTAL.

Ruth and Anton
These two, on the other hand, are more than welcome to raid the paso dressing up box and cackle away like lunatics. Slightly taken aback by how minimalist Ruth’s hair is, but they more than made up with it with a GENIUS routine incorporating fun and frolics with actual paso content. Ruth also seems to be getting into it a lot more and throwing herself into the dances, OLE!

Anton Du Beke: comedy genuis. The was camp, and bleedingly insane. Ruth is good enough to be improving but bad enough to pull of a Du Beke farce. Perfect. 

Debbie and Giovanni
Debbie’s twists-and-grips hair is straight out of 1999 and it’s terrifying me almost as much as this truly awful tango song choice. They actually looked like robots at times, but the technique was really strong and they somehow managed to inject some dramatic tension into it. Maybe if I played it back with another song over it? I did appreciate it was really good, but I wasn’t jumping up and down about it.

At first, all I could think was, could you imagine this to La Cumparsita. The song for me was so distracting. So then I watched it with the music off. And I saw what the judges saw. It was the sharpest tango I can remember seeing on Strictly. Sometimes the ringers transcend their previous experience to the point it no longer matters. Like Danny last year, Debbie is becoming one of those. 

Jonnie and Oti
Both of them have awesome hair this week, it’s like a fashion magazine. Easily an improvement on last week’s car-crash (shipwreck?) of a cha cha and he seemed to manage the loosey-goosey aspect, but also not one of his best. The lifts were awesome, as he can do the control better than a lot of the others, and he does seem to be dancing WITH Oti a lot more now. He also needs another stab at ballroom.

Argh, I'm going to die of bad salsa. 

Susan and Kevin
A while ago, myself and Clover saw Michael Vaughan dance to this at the actual show. Well, I say dance, Michael couldn’t chop wood in time to the music and Natalie threatened the judges with an axe...good times! This was obviously better than that, after last week’s foxtrot drama they just went with a straight jive and it was good for it – she did great kicks and flicks sections. Also, effortless dancing with a paintroller, there’s a skill for life right there.

This was pure joy. She has great musicality and the swingy type dances are definitely her thing. I'm worried there aren't enough dances left that will suit her but these two are still one of my favourite partnerships this year. 

Davood and Nadiya
Another cracking song choice, this was made for an American Smooth, and it appears it was made for Davood too – easily his best dance! For the first time it actually all came together, including non-manic choreography and Davood seeming confident and not hanging on for dear life. They were some ballsy lifts and they went without a hitch. Lovely to see such a surprise halfway through the series.

DAVOOD IS IN THE GREAT GAME NOW.