Sunday, 17 December 2017

Final Fever

Final time and it's a long one, let's get down to it! As ever, it's hard work blogging about dances that have already been done, so here's a quick rundown...

Alexandra's American Smooth was a sweet as a box of chocolates, and she just exuded delight. Debbie got lumbered with her weird salsa, but sold it as ever and we also had the delight of Spelling With Giovanni. Gemma got the best choice because I do really love that paso, and it showed them as strong and a team.  Joe's VW was the first of his dances I really liked and this was great to see again, especially for Katya's dramatic heroine over-acting to make up for the lack of moustache.

Now, let's get cracking with the craziest of Christmas treats, the showdances!

Alexandra and Gorka
After the drama they've had this series, I love that Alex and Gorka chose the ultimate showtune for their showdance, and did the most razzmatazzy choreography possible. Whilst also throwing in an Argentine Tango, because why not? As ever, you should play to your strengths and we saw it with her musicality and verve. What's more, showdances often feel like they're rattling along until the wheels come off, whereas this had control, and was all the better for it. Love youse guys.

Debbie and Giovanni
I saw some It Takes Two footage and it looked rather contempo-waft, and, shocker, ballet-heavy. Giovanni likes himself a schmaltzy showdance, doesn't he? Great song choice and nice to have a change of pace in a showdance, but it didn't feel like more than the some of its parts. And too many lifts for me.

Gemma and Aljaz
This was the most unknown quantity going into it, but you can often play that to your advantage. This was a pretty good routine with a balance of ballroom and Charleston and maybe a bit of cha cha thrown in, but I think it showed up that Gemma is technically behind the other three. There were moments when looked like she was standing still waiting for the next move. But full marks for oomph, which is what you always want from Gemma, it was enough of a surprise to maybe keep her in this.

Joe and Katya
This took a long time to get to the dancing...and was basically just a bit weird. Once we got underway, it turned into a very nice quickstep with very well-executed lifts, but not much more than that. I don't really have much to say about it, which is seriously dangerous for a showdance...

And then we had the final dances, and I realised this series has gone by in a flash! Thankfully we had Alex to raise the roof with the epic jive of epicness, this girl has given everything this series. Debbie reminded us that when she's at her best, she's awesome, with the Argentine Tango. Then we had Gemma changing the pace with a lovely bit of ballroom with an AS that did her proud, and brought a bit of Blackpool to the final! Finally, I wasn't expecting to enjoy Joe and Katya's Charleston as much as I did; I felt like it had improved and was perfectly executed.

Just before the heart-stopping moment with the winners announcement, we actually had one of the best group numbers we've had! It's usually a car crash but this was remarkably good and carefree. Here's a list of exclaiming highlights...The Rev not doing any dancing! Ruth and Anton stripping! Davood and Nadiya messing up a lift! Mollie just doing lifts! Kevin and Susan making me well-up in a surprising turn of events! The return of Jonnie's glitter blade!

And then the red lights came down for the final decision (and four people instead of three just made the stage look cluttered this year), and the winner is......JOE! The only-person-not-in-the-dance-off thing did make it the most likely, and everyone loves a J-word. Plus Katya has given us some great choreography this year. It's been a cracking series that brought us some great dances, Shirley, and plenty of laughs, see you all next year!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Semi-Final Slog

The semi-final is always exhausting for everyone involved, we have two dances, it's nearly Christmas and everyone is a bit tired and emotional. It's often a slog with flashes of greatness. We also started this semi with some seriously bling-tastic dresses from Tess and Shirley, are there any sequins left in Britain?

Joe and Katya
Joe has gone from strength to strength in recent weeks, and this was always going to be a good dance for him. My expectations were high and I was watching with a beady eye, but apart from some wonky arm bits, it was very good. A nice routine yet again from Katya too with a great mix of steps and not overly-reliant on lifts. Correctly scored, and all round good and proper, but not a wow moment just yet. But we have a long night ahead of us...

Alexandra and Gorka
Apart from her quickstep at Blackpool, it feels like forever since Alex got to do some classic ballroom, and in a drop dead gorgeous frock too! PLUS a totally appropriate song choice that enhance the dance - all the elements were there for once. Now, there was a whiff, a WHIFF, of contempo waft about this, but I can forgive it since you need to jazz up a VW in the semis or you get forgotten.

Mollie and AJ
10 out of 10 for effort and smiling, much less out of 10 for dancing. She managed to look like she was having a marvellous time, but it really was all over the place. Craig comments about the palm trees having more bounce did make me cackle, I bet she is dying to get back in ballroom. Also, poor AJ looked like a puppy that had been told off...

Gemma and Aljaz
No one wants a rumba in the semifinal, contestants, pros, viewers, no-one. Saying that, I actually thought this was quite sweet and they captured a nice mood, teamwork has been one of their strengths all the way through. But is was a bit hesitant in places and didn't quite flow. Certainly not a disaster, and it did indeed look like a rumba, but not setting the world alight.

Debbie and Giovanni
Brilliant song choice for a jive, and Debbie knows how to sell a ritzy-glitzy number for all its worth. I thought this started well enough, but she really started flagging about halfway through and her steps suffered. Everyone looks for the iconic kick and flick section in a jive and that looked a bit scarecrow-y. Top marks for the festive Cadbury chocolate outfits though.

ALL CHANGE, round we go again....

Joe and Katya
This was weird. Good, but WEIRD. It feel like it didn't get going until the opening section with the mirror and the first lift were done, and then there was a proper AT section that was truly excellent. I did really feel for him with that post-lift wobble, but it didn't throw him and that's pretty impressive. Closer to a showdance than an AT, they may have been a bit too ambitious with this one.

Alexandra and Gorka
I wasn't sure which was this was going to go, but it blew me away with the sheer amount of choreography and commitment. It just kept going and going and the lifts were pretty epic too. And it looked like a salsa, not a samba, not a disco, not some deformed cha cha. After the week she's had, being able to bring both technique and showmanship in a dance like that means everything.

Mollie and AJ
Quite a grinding change of pace after the party-dance-to-end-all-parties, but a peaceful bit of ballroom is always welcomed. Although it was peaceful to the point of me dozing off. It was perfectly nice and Mollie is always better in ballroom, but if I'm stuck for something to say about a semifinal dance then, really...

Gemma and Aljaz
Gemma looks seriously foxy and this worked as a tango song better than some we've had recently. Its driven by a beat and entirely about sexual frustration, what more do you want? This started well, with lots of attack from both of them, but it didn't really go anywhere. Technically, it was very good, but it wasn't more than the sum of its parts.

Debbie and Giovanni
A twee but delightful song and minimal faffage from Giovanni in the choreography. Although I was surprised when it was suddenly over, it felt like it hadn't really built to anything. Really feeling the semi-final slog this year, where we get lots of nice numbers, but fewer 'WOW' moments.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Musical Mash-up

Does anyone else feel like this year has flown by? Can't believe we're already at the quarter finals and there's hardly anyone coming down the stairs all of a sudden. And just to throw you off, here's AJ in his primary school production of Oliver and Amy looking stunning in a peasant blouse...I think we're in for a random evening...

I hate musicals week.

Gemma and Aljaz
How is Gemma dancing under the weight of that hair? She deserves extra points for that alone. Not a bad choice to start the week, with a rip-roaring song that was actually suited to a quickstep. Gemma felt a bit clunky in hold to me and like she was struggling to keep up at times, but then the quickstep often looks exhausting. She might struggle this week, but her and Aljaz have such a great partnership it might see them through.

This made such an impression on me, I could not remember what it was. So I have just been on iPlayer for a rewatch. Now I feel bad because it's Hello Dolly and who doesn't love that? But oh, all the faff.

Mollie and AJ
Well they look divine, the perfect choice for them this week...apart from that it's a rumba. It was always going to be a tough one for Mollie, so they seemed to cope it with it by putting not a lot of rumba in it and and an illegal lift. There were snatches of good bits in her arms, but also only tiny bits of hip action. The judges seemed to like it, but it might have committed the cardinal sin of being boring. I was also CACKLING at the awful slapdash scrapbook someone had put together for their VT.

Oh, Shirley. Just no. And also I spent most of the routine freaking out about the weird time signature, which I have been reliably informed on Twitter was 12/8.

Joe and Katya
Doing a samba dressed for a Charleston, in fact this was one of the weirdest mash-ups we've seen on the show...but I actually quite liked it! Cabaret is surreal anyway, and Katya put a great routine together - it had more content in it than Mollie's rumba that's for sure. And Joe executed it very well with good bounce and aplomb, is there nothing you can't throw at him?

OK, I know all the words to this. But samba? No. It hurts my soul.

Debbie and Giovanni
They really want all out on the costumes, and probably got one of the more sensible themes for the night. This was very flowy without being wafty and not over the top or melodramatic, I was quite impressed. Also, the the lifts were well-executed rather than death-defying and wobbly. It hit all the right spots and actually showed some progression, hurrah!

We are still pretending that 'The American Smooth' is an actual dance rather than a dance style from the US, are we? I've been letting it go for a few series but I'm grumpy so I'm bringing it up again. I liked this better on second viewing. I just would have preferred it if they weren't dressed as cats. I know that was the point. But unnecessary. Totally.

Davood and Nadiya
Nadiya's hilarious perm, Davood making descending from the ceiling his signature move, this was definitely the peak of themeing madness for the evening. Which was a shame because there was some good AT in there, including a great jigsaw-legs section (yes, that is a technical term). The lifts were oddly clunky though, Nadiya was basically launching herself at him. I have no idea how the audience will take to this oddness, but hope he doesn't go out on what was basically a blip.

What a waste of what should have been an excellent Argentine Tango. Ugh.

Alex and Gorka
Gorka's jacket, my eyes! I literally recoiled from the screen when he first appeared. But this was the most jolly, charming routine I've seen in a long time. Alex's swivel was so sharp, she could even do it in a high-kick, so I assume she just doesn't have normal working joints like the rest of us! Also managing to keep up the energy right until the end - considering Craig said she was better than Gorka I don't know what she's supposed to do to get a 10 from him. Great end to the show though!

Finally, a dance where the theme didn't completely ruin it. Alexandra could have out-swivelled a Swizzel lolly on a carousel.