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Proudly blogging about Strictly Come Dancing ALL YEAR ROUND since 2006. Always spoiler-free.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Sunday Service: Week 5
Well, Week 5 was interesting, and not just because Laura has got a bye into next week due to injury. Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy Robert & Oksana's jive. It was very heavy, just a lot of stomping about. Robert was back to his old gurning ways as well. His kicks were heavy. He lost balance in many places and his posture was bad. It was enthusiastic, but they didn't do it for me this week. I don't think the judges were watching the same dance as me. It was clear that Lesley & Anton had worked hard on their tango, but something about it didn't sit right. Her posture was dodgy, her head was sinking into her neck. It looked as though the strides were too big for her, and she was struggling to keep up. The attitude was there, but the steps were not. Anton in guyliner, though. That's worth my license fee. I found Greg quite disturbing. Throughout the cha cha he was just staring intensely at Natalie. The whole thing was a bit stompy, the pigeon toes and bow legs really made it quite unattractive. His free arm was just dangling. The timing looked a bit odd at the beginning. The most interesting bit was their little grind in the middle. Not a pleasant dance to watch. I was quite pleased to get to Anastacia & Gorka's quickstep, to have something nice to watch. I loved the opening and closing sections on the bench. Anastacia & Gorka looked great together. They're a much better height match. There was some gapping, but otherwise it was pretty nice. Lovely kick sections. I liked Kevin & Louise's rumba, but I didn't love it. It was quite controlled, but not smooth enough. I definitely agree with Len that she needs to dig deeper to push herself over the edge. It was nice, but didn't have enough intimacy. It was all a bit vanilla. It was probably the first time we've ever seen a celebrity nearly drop a pro. It gave Ed & Katya's American smooth an edge. The routine started out really well. The foxtrot content was nice. But a failed lift was the death of the routine. After that he completely lost his way. Ore & Joanne's waltz was a bit busy for my liking. There was almost too much movement, it didn't glide enough for me. His posture was a little hunched. It was good, but I just think it could have been better. I didn't see what the judges were seeing this week. I liked Daisy & Aljaž's Charleston. It was very together and in sync. It was nice to see something new from a Charleston. A very enjoyable routine, well performed.
If any male celebrity was going to pull off a rumba, it would be Danny. He totally led Oti. He had lovely hip action. There was one arm line which looked a bit dodgy, and maybe it did have a bit too much power as the judges suggested, but it was a nice routine.
What I liked about Claudia & AJ's samba was the amount of proper samba steps. There were promenade runs, pivots, samba rolls, voltas, natural rolls. Her little legs did struggle to keep up at times, but it was probably my favourite routine of theirs so far.
My favourite of the week was actually Claudia & AJ. Another meltdown from Ed would put him in the bottom two for me, and I would put Greg with him. Greg was unlucky to have a dance that didn't suit him this week.
Put this on your Christmas list. The BBC is honouring Len's final series as head judge of Strictly by releasing a brand new DVD - The Best of Strictly Come Dancing: Len’s Grand Finale. The DVD will celebrate some of the best moments in Strictly history - Jill & Darren's jive, Jake & Janette's salsa and Jay & Aliona's jive. And there will be some more infamous performances, such as John & Kristina's paso and Ann & Anton's samba. There will also be peaks behind the scenes at make-up and costumes. Len said: "It's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience choosing my most memorable moments on Strictly Come Dancing for this DVD and I really do hope that the fans will enjoy re-living them again too. It's definitely a ten from Len!" You can pre-order now from Amazon, or wait until 28th November when it will be released through all of the usual outlets.
Gorka Marquez has stepped in to train with Anastcia while Brendan is recovering from a chest infection. Brendan shared the news on It Takes Two last night, explaining that he is supervising the pair while they learn his choreography. Brendan will see a doctor later in the week who will advise if he is fit to dance on Saturday. Anastacia shared a pic of her and Gorka on Instagram earlier today.
I have to say, I find this a bit odd. I thought that the point of 'spare' pros Neil and Chloe was for them to step in should any of the pros get injured or not be able to perform. Yet, Gorka was selected to help Brendan out.
Week 4 was definitely a show of two halves. The first half was a bit of a disaster, but the second half delivered and rescued us all! Greg & Natalie started with their salsa. I found the Grease references at the beginning of the dance a bit out of context. However, once they got into the salsa content it was a decent routine. His hip action was good enough. The lifts were clean, especially the one at the end. Laura & Giovanni's quickstep had great energy. The Charleston sections were particularly good, especially the one danced on the stage. Laura's knees were a bit too bent on the slower section. Her footwork was a bit iffy, which was exposed on the slower section. She needs to close her feet together properly. Anastacia & Brendan had the tough job of performing the competition's first rumba. Rumba can be a hard sell on Strictly, because it's not as spectacular as other dances. Anatsacia gave the rumba a good go. The transitions could have been much smoother, but her lines were OK. She posed well, and there was a nice développé, but she needs to fill all of the music. She also needs to keep her eyeline up. She seemed to look at the floor quite a bit. Claudia & AJ's foxtrot had a decent amount of content, for these days at least, although it would have been even better if they didn't break hold. Claudia needs to keep her feet together on heel turns, although at least they were in there for her to attempt! She should also release her toes on backward steps to give it a more professional finish. Oh dear. Ed & Katya's paso doble was a complete mess. He had a complete mind melt. The whole thing was a car crash. It was the minciest paso I have ever seen. Terrible shaping. Awful, just awful. And yet oddly entertaining... I did like the ending... Naga & Pasha's Charleston was generally OK. It was a nice routine. Naga looked to lose it a bit after the lifts in the middle. It was a more confident performance than we've seen from her in the past. But she's really going to have to step it up if she wants to stay much longer. Louise & Kevin finally started to steer the show around a corner into a better place. Their foxtrot routine was lovely. Great storytelling. It was a classy routine with lots of content and nice turns. It was clean. Another solid performance from Louise. I just wish they'd got into the routine a bit quicker, but this is 2016. Danny & Oti's quickstep was a masterclass. It was classy, fast and flawless. They flew around the whole floor. Danny has great posture. There really wasn't much wrong with it. But where can Danny go from here? Can he get any better? The public like to see progression. Where can he progress to? My hubby, who doesn't follow Strictly, happened to walk in the room while they were performing. When it got to the end, he was surprised to find that Danny was the celebrity. "Oh, I spent the whole routine watching her - I thought she must be the celeb". Daisy & Aljaž did one of the best rumbas we've seen in a while. It was intimate and tender. It had lots of content, lots of recognisable steps and no faffing about. The only thing which let it down was Daisy's weird facial expression. You would think that would be a major concern for a model, but she was challenging Robert in the gawping stakes. Speaking of Robert (Barrister Rinder if you prefer - he's not actually a judge), he and Oksana danced a ill-themed Viennese waltz. Not sure what milking cows has to do with Boom Bang A Bang or indeed Vienna. I think the geography was a bit out. Dodgy theming aside, it was nicely danced. I wish there had been more in hold. I found the constant hold-breaking a bit disruptive. But this is 2016. They covered the floor well, and it was pleasant enough to watch. He forgot his footwork toward the end. He needs to remember everything throughout. Lesley & Anton did an energetic Charleston. It was neat and tidy, and entertaining. Lesley used her facial expressions well, and without gurning. I'm really enjoying their partnership. Ore & Joanne's jive was action packed! Nice side-by-side sections. It was neat and precise. Almost spot-on with the timing. I loved that Joanne gave Ore a part by himself, it shows the faith she has in his ability. Just a shame that the only mistake he made came right after that. Did anyone miss Will Young? I would expect the bottom two to come from the first half of the programme. There are so many that could be in danger. Based on the performances, I would put Ed in the bottom two, probably with Naga. I think the leaderboard was pretty fair last night. However, I think the bottom to is likely to be a little more shocking. I would expect to see Anastacia and Naga, or maybe Greg. Greg is good, but easily forgotten in the crowd. Laura and Claudia could also get lost in the middle. I don't think we've seen the last of Ed yet. Here are the videos... Greg & Natalie
Will Young suddenly announced his withdrawal from Strictly Come Dancing last night, citing "personal reasons". The announcement came at around 7pm. Will issued a statement on his website, praising the crew, and thanking the BBC for the opportunity to take part. Of his professional partner, Karen Clifton, he said:"I have found a creative partnership with Karen that has been the most wonderful thing to experience. I will be eternally grateful to her for her direction, talent and guiding me through three wonderful dances that I will be able to show my grandkids in years to come." Speculation is rife in the newspapers and on social media, as Will did not give any specifics: "Unfortunately, I am leaving the show for personal reasons. I leave with joy in my heart that I have been able to take part in one of the most loved shows on British television." Karen tweeted her good wishes to Will.
I'm so sad that Will has decided to quit the show and I know it wasn't an easy decision for him.
Bruno likes to express himself during his critiques, often flailing his arms wildly as only an Italian can. But it's reportedly getting on Len's wick. After Saturday's programme, Len finally took Bruno aside and asked him to keep his limbs under control. TheDaily Mirrorreports that a source told the Daily Star: “There have been several times this series when Bruno has clonked Len in the face, but it was the final straw on Saturday. Len told Bruno to control himself and to stop bashing into him in an exchange off camera. Len knows it’s just Bruno’s bonkers personality but he thinks he could end up with a black eye.” Bruno's behavior has been getting more and more exaggerated over the years, to the point where it's quite cringy to watch. It's not natural any more, but all part of Bruno's on-screen persona. It's starting to become ridiculous, and I would quite happily see him stop. At least he hasn't 'accidentally' fallen off his chair so far this year...
Week three? Time for a theme! Yes, it's Movie Week. Where we choose music that's completely inappropriate for the dance we are doing, then theme the dance so much that you can't even work out what it's supposed to be. Action! Daisy & Aljaž were up first with their Mary Poppins quickstep. After 20 minutes of getting things out of her carpet, Daisy was finally ready to dance. Daisy danced the routine pretty well. She had an odd head position in places, and there was a dodgy-looking moment right at the very beginning where it was a bit off-time, but otherwise it was a good effort. Anastacia & Brendan's Viennese waltz looked, understandably, very tentative. She looked nervous, rather than the usual confident, sassy Anastacia we are used to. There were a few mis-steps in the routine. However, I liked that it was full of content with no faffing about. Danny & Oti were amazing once again. Their paso was almost perfect. It was bang on point the whole way through. Danny's shaping was excellent, and the interplay he had with Oti was fantastic. I worry that Danny has peaked too early, and the public will get bored with him being this good. Lesley & Anton's quickstep was a bit skippy in places. Lesley acted it very well, of course, and the choreography nicely picked up the accents in the music. I would have liked more dancing, though. There was a lot of walking and acting, with quickstep sprinkled in between. What can I say about Will & Karen's Bollywood salsa? In Will's defense, he danced the choreography he was given well. It was probably his best performance so far. Great timing, great side-by-side sections. Nice body rolls. And I liked the routine. But it was way too much Bollywood and not enough salsa. Will said there were 24 counts of salsa. 24 counts? In a 90 second routine? It's not enough. If it had been a 'fusion' week, they'd have smashed it. But for a salsa on movie week, it just won't do. The producers need to have a long hard look at themselves. The music selections need some serious re-evaluation. There was a moment when I thought Naga & Pasha were going to need a Karen Hardy-style do-over, after Pasha struggled to unhook Naga's harness. It killed the mood of their tango right from the off. It meant we missed a whole section of torchography. On to the proper part of the dance, and it all felt a bit loose. Naga was wobbly, especially in the upper body. I agree with Bruno's comment that she shows flashes of greatness, but then it's gone again. It's too fleeting. I really enjoyed Robert & Oksana's Flintstones Charleston. It was just the right side of bonkers. There was a mistake early on, which Robert didn't cover all that well, but he carried on. There was also a very iffy lift. His timing was good overall. It was very enjoyable. I've always thought it is very mean to give couples the American smooth before the quickstep or foxtrot, but that didn't seem to matter for Ore & Joanne. Their American smooth was stunning. Gorgeous choreography presented with great musicality and finesse. Beautiful. The only thing that was lacking was heel leads. He was up on his toes way too much. Laura & Giovanni's routine had more salsa than Will & Karen's. Laura does odd things with her arms when she's out on her own. The lifts seem to take ages to get in and out of, which made the whole thing a bit clunky. She has potential, and I hope to see her improve as the series goes on. Greg & Natalie's American smooth was solid. It was a pleasant routine. Not amazing, but competent. Greg is a bit pigeon-toed, and doesn't straighten his legs enough on the travelling steps. But the lifts were clean and smooth. Claudia & AJ's Charleston was fab. Her timing was excellent. The whole routine was fast and precise. The lifts were well executed and seamless. It was all very clean. I really didn't like the music for Tameka & Gorka's tango. The Heat Is On should be a cha cha to my mind, not a tango. I also didn't like the fact that they were both dressed all in black, because it make it difficult to tell their bodies apart in hold. Those niggles aside, which are not Tameka's fault, I thought it was a decent performance. Not a show stopper, but good enough. What Ed lacked in samba technique, he made up for in attitude and characterisation. He totally thought he was The Mask. He needed more hip action. Katya put together a packed routine, in which she moved her feet a lot more than he did, and I would possibly have liked to have seen even more samba steps. But it was very entertaining for the right reasons. His best performance so far. I loved Louise & Kevin's cha cha routine, especially all the nods to Flashdance in the choreography. Louise looked great. But she needs to remember to perform to the audience. She was looking at Kevin when they were facing each other, but then her eyeline fell to the floor when she turned away from him. She needs to perform outwards more. Ore was the best of the night for me. I just loved everything about that routine, and the performance. It's difficult to choose a bottom two because there are so many good couples. Naga could find herself in trouble. And possibly Anastacia. But who knows? It's all so close this year, every exit is going to be tough. Here are the videos... Daisy & Aljaž
Bruno Tonioli reportedly did not agree with the 'rule' that the public vote would decide Sunday's result, feeling that Anastacia should have had to forfeit her place in the competition for failure to perform. According to the Daily Star, Bruno stormed out when he heard the news, and demanded to be taken home, delaying the recording of the results show. Perhaps Bruno's trademark Italian flamboyance was misconstrued as something more by an onlooker. This is the Daily Star, after all. Or perhaps he genuinely disagreed with the resolution. However, the a 'spokesperson' for the show told OK! (but oddly no other media channel...): "Bruno did not get into his car and demand to be taken home and nor did he hold up recording."
Good on Craig Revel Horwood, who has decided to quit smoking as one of the celebrity faces of the Stoptober campaign. Stoptober is an NHS initiative to get smokers to try and quit, beginning their journey in the month of October. It's not an easy thing to do (so I'm told, I've never been a smoker myself), and I wish Craig, and everyone else planning to quit, every success. I remember a poster as school which has always stuck with me. It read "If you think you are a smoker, you are not. It is the cigarette that smokes, you are just the sucker on the end." Wise words. Click here for some video encouragement from Craig.
Anastacia was unable to perform in last night's dance-off due to injury. The rules of the competition, which no-one has actually seen but presumably exist, state that the public vote will be used to determine who goes home if the dance-off cannot go ahead. Anastacia had sustained injuries to pre-existing scar tissue. Brendan had changed their choreography on Saturday night so that she could perform in the main show, but to perform a second time was not possible. Based on the public vote, Melvin & Janette had the least votes, and therefore were eliminated. The decision to not eliminate Anastacia for failure to perform seems to have ruffled some feathers among some viewers, and there have been some very unkind comments on social media. I think that the decision taken by the BBC is the correct one. If a celebrity cannot perform in the main show, they are given a bye through to the next week. In 2010, Tina O'Brien had chicken pox. She was given a bye, and returned the following week. In 2009, Jade Johnson was given a bye due to injury. She was unable to perform the following week, and then had to withdraw. This is a similar situation, it is the equivalent of a bye from the dance-off. I think the result is a fair one. The judges' leaderboard reflects the scores they gave. Their decision after the dance-off very rarely deviates from that ranking. The pair lower on the leaderboard generally goes home unless they mess up the dance off. This would imply that the judges would have saved Anastacia & Brendan. The public vote was used to determine who went home. Again, Anastacia & Brendan are saved. I really don't see how there is anything controversial here. The result is fair. October is breast cancer awareness month. Anastacia is a breast cancer survivor, and the scars which lead to her injury are those related to the mastectomy which saved her life, and allowed her to be on the dancefloor. Let's make the conversation about awareness, and not the trivial rules of a TV show.
I've been out all day today, and will be out all day tomorrow, but such is my dedication to the best show on TV, that here I am on the wrong side of 11pm. It's totally worth it! So, up first were Ore & Joanne with their cha cha. I really enjoyed the routine. Joanne certainly worked Ore, and he kept up with it well. He was possibly off time a tiny bit at the beginning, but it was well attacked. Claudia & AJ's waltz took way too long to get going for me. Just get into hold, already! Where it was in hold, she performed well, although she missed a few heel leads. She was on the balls of her feet too much. But her lines are gorgeous. Will & Karen's jive was OK, but I felt Will was too soft in his arms which spoilt the routine. It wasn't strong enough. To give Will credit, he nicely continues when he made mistake in the middle - it noticed, but I did mentally question if he did go wrong. The routine was full of content, and Will had most of it. I loved the attack that Lesley & Anton gave the cha cha. Lesley needs to keep her shoulders back, and her feet together, but I loved the performance she gave it. It was a pleasure to watch. I actually enjoyed it more than last week's waltz. Greg & Natalie's jive last week was excellent. Sadly, the tango didn't live up to it. I loved the content - it was straight in with no filler. Sadly, the whole thing was ruined by Greg's terrible posture. Stuck out bottom and legs too bent. It was all too stompy and stalky. He had the rhythm, but it was ugly. Charlestons always steal the show, and Tameka & Gorka's was a brilliant. It was a shame they missed the hand grab on the through-the-legs move, because it thew off the timing of the next few steps. Everything else was great. Energetic. Spot on. And I want that bathing suit! I was a bit worried about Laura after last week, but her waltz with Giovanni was very nice. It was a lovely routine, and she danced it well. Perhaps it was the nerves of being out first last week, or maybe ballroom is more her thing. So elegant and way more confident. A vast improvement. Sadly, Melvin & Janette didn't really improve from last week. Atrocious tango song choice aside, I thought the whole thing was a bit soft. It lacked drive. His toes weren't pointed enough. He needed to bring his feel closer together. It just didn't do it for me. I presume Louise has done ballet at some point in her life, because her lines out of hold were gorgeous. I wish they had got into hold sooner, but I understand that the Viennese waltz can be a bit dull and Kevin wanted to fill for a bit. Their side-by-side sections were very nice, and in hold it was too. I love Anastacia, but her and Brendan's salsa left me a bit cold. I wanted more armography. The routine was a bit dull. It was a bit posy. Maybe it was the choreography changes which let it down. Who knows. Ed & Katya's Charleston wasn't a patch on Tameka & Gorka's. You have to give Ed credit for his timing. He didn't miss a step in the routine. It's just a shame that his doesn't execute the moves all that well. It lacked swivel and finesse, but boy, did he go for it. A good job. Naga & Pasha's cha cha was OK, but not amazing. There were moments of brilliance, but other moments were dodgy. The routine lost energy as it went on. She needs to watch her free arm, which often dangles by her side. She had the attitude, but not the footwork. I think it's criminal when celebrities have to do the American smooth before any other ballroom dance. There wasn't anything too smooth about Robert & Oksana's routine. There was a bit too much attack. The lifts were OK, but I did not enjoy watching the routine. I was impressed with Daisy & Aljaž's cha cha. It was sassy, clean and fun. It seems the waltz wasn't just a fluke. She can dance. Have we ever had a Viennese waltz as hot as Danny & Oti's? Sexy as hell, it played more like a tango. Brilliant storyline and characterisation. I loved it. Danny is such a pro, already. I am not sure where can go, though. He's so good. I think Danny deserved to be joint top of the leaderboard. I think Will might have been a bit overmarked. I can't disagree with the bottom two of Ed and Melvin. That would be the way I would go. I'd probably send Ed home, as I think Melvin has more potential, but it would be a close call. Here are the videos... Ore & Joanne
I have been on holiday for the past two weeks, so I'm only just getting back into Sparkleland, hence the tardy look back at last weeks shows. But I'm here now! I was pretty impressed with the standard across the board. Laura & Giovanni had the difficult task of going first. Laura tried hard. She was a bit stompy, and had bent knees throughout, and her arms looked a bit awkward. But for a non-dancer, it was a great start to the series. Naga & Pasha begun their series with a waltz. Naga has lots of potential. She looked so elegant. Like Laura, she needs to make sure she straightens her knees more. I can't wait to see her progress. I cannot bring myself to call Robert 'Judge' throughout the competition, as that's not his name. Anyway, I enjoyed Robert & Oksana's cha cha. Yes, Robert's open-mouthed face was distracting, but I loved that he gave the routine everything. Actually looking at his steps, he had tried so hard to get the styling of a real latin dancer. His rhythm is pretty good. Okasana has lots to work with. Lesley was always going to do well in a waltz with Anton. There's no way it can go wrong. The song choice was a no-brainer, too. She needs to watch her top line, which is difficult with such a height difference, but we need to see her neck. We're back to dodgy music choices for tango, but even that didn't detract from Ore & Joanne's tango. Great storytelling - I agreed with Len that it too long to get going, but that's not Ore's fault.He needs to make sure his posture is correct, his bottom was out and his shoulders were too far forward. But he has great potential. Probably a smart move for Greg & Natalie to get the jive out of the way early doors, although he did a really good job if it. He was a bit pigeon toed, and probably needs to make sure he straightens his legs properly. But it was a good start to the competition. I liked Louise & Kevin's jive, too. They looked good together, the side-by-side elements were pretty together. It was light and bouncy. Brilliant kick ball-change turns toward the end of the routine. A great start. Melvin & Jenette's cha cha was solid. It wasn't wowing, but it was a good start. It was just not very interesting. Not one to watch again. Daisy & Aljaž's waltz was delightful. Romantic, with a beautiful story. Perhaps a little gapping in places - she needs to make sure her hips are completely under. Lovely rise and fall, though. A great start.
Dirty ringer time. West end star Danny's cha cha was on point. If you didn't know Oti was the pro, you might have to ask your neighbour. Slick and professional, Danny was brilliant. I fear that he is too good for the general public, who want to see a J-word.
Fabulous paso doble from Tameka & Gorka. She was just delicious, and is delivering exactly what everyone hoped. She had the attitude and drive, and had the face to match. It wasn't perfect, and I'm not sure how she'll fare with the ballroom dances.
Anastacia gave the cha cha lots of attitude, and reminded me a bit of Claire King. There were a few mis-steps, and Brendan had to save her from going A-over-T in the middle, but I really enjoyed it. She's gorgeous. Can't wait to see more.
Ed & Katya's waltz was quite sweet. He needs to make sure he doesn't lead with his left arm, and should pull his shoulders back. In an earlier series, that would have been acceptable for week 1, but with everyone else in the competition being so good, I don't know if it is going to be good enough.
I had high expectations for Claudia & AJ's cha cha, but it didn't quite hit the mark. She looked off time in a couple of places. They seemed to rely on gymnastics a bit too much. She looked a bit awkward in the heels. She seemed more comfortable out of hold than in it.
I struggled to decide if it was those awful trousers, or just bad posture that made Will & Karen's tango look odd. Will needs to make sure his head is over his shoulder, it was square for much of the dance, which made it lose style. It was OK, and I think he showed potential, but it wasn't my favourite.
I think the leaderboard was a fair reflection of what happened for the most part. Ed and Melvin were definitely the ones who moved me the least. I probably would have had Danny at the top rather than Daisy, and would have had Ore and Greg higher than Will.