I'm still reeling from the departure of Pixie, but the show, and the blogging, must go on!
Jake & Janette's first routine was the cha cha. It was OK, but didn't blow me away. Jake was trying too hard to make his hips work, and they ended up looking odd. The entry to the lift in the middle of the routine looked awkward. I liked the story, and Jake's applejacks were very good.
Their Viennese waltz was better in my opinion. It was romantic, traveled well and Jake had pretty good footwork. His posture was a bit odd at times, he sometimes hunches his shoulders. Again, it was solid, but not amazing.
I was a bit disappointed with Frankie & Kevin's rumba, not because of the way it was danced, but because I longed to see some intimacy between them, and the dolly routine left me a little disappointed. It also hid a few things, with Frankie doing stiff dolly walks instead of rumba walks. As a showpiece, however, it was brilliant. It had lovely light and shade, switching between the hard dolly parts and the soft rumba parts. It was a lovely routine, very innovative, but it just didn't scratch the itch I have to see Frankie do something less 'vanilla'.
Their Argentine tango went some way to scratching that itch. It was intense, dark and intimate. The decoration was great. Frankie waited to be led by Kevin and did not anticipate the routine. The lifts were nice, and effortlessly executed.
Mark & Karen's Viennese waltz was sweet and elegant. Mark looked relaxed and it was clear that he just wanted to take it in and enjoy the dance. Mark's footwork was good, and the routine covered the floor well. It was very engaging and well performed. It was a shame they couldn't quite manage the fleckerl.
I'm not sure where the content was in the rumba. As a lyrical routine, it was lovely, but this was supposed to be a rumba. I didn't like the decision to perform barefoot. We really didn't see much from Mark apart from posing and presenting Karen. There was a nice romance between them, but it wasn't what it was supposed to be.
In terms of content, Simon probably had the best routines of the night. I loved Simon & Kristina's samba. Simon displayed the best samba hip action of the series. It's such a shame there was a mistake in the middle with the samba rolls, because it should have scored so much higher.
Simon & Kristina's foxtrot was proper, old school Strictly. It hard charm, fun, elegance and content. They barely broke hold throughout the whole routine, so hats off to Kristina for that. Simon has really started to perform over the last few weeks. His footwork was solid, and the whole thing was a pleasure to watch.
Caroline & Pasha's foxtrot was interesting. It was very lyrical and emotional. However, it looked to me that there were a few small stumbles in the routine, or odd places where Caroline seemed to be trying to catch up to Pasha. Caroline is an excellent dancer, but the foxtrot wasn't as clean as some of her other routines in my opinion. That's not to say it was bad. Caroline was amazing, but in the semi-final we expect to see perfection.
Their salsa was perfection. It was fast and furious, with brilliant armography. Caroline just went for it. She totally sold every step, and made you want to get up and dance too. It was a great performance, and deserving of a top score.
I thought that Caroline's salsa and Simon's foxtort were the best dances of the night. I thought it odd that Mark & Karen elected to do the rumba in the dance-off. I guess they just chose the routine which was their favourite, expecting it to be their last dance. I was happy to see Mark saved, as he has improved throughout the competition. Jake started strong, but tailed off, and never lived up to the salsa in week 2.
Here are the videos...
Jake & Janette - cha cha
Jake & Janette - Viennese waltz
Frankie & Kevin - rumba
Frankie & Kevin - Argentine tango
Mark & Karen - rumba
Simon & Kristina - samba
Simon & Kristina - foxtrot
Caroline & Pasha - foxtrot
Caroline & Pasha - salsa