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Louise. Lou. Loulabelle. Loulabelle44. Louby.
Proudly blogging about Strictly Come Dancing ALL YEAR ROUND since 2006. Always spoiler-free.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sunday Service: Week 11

The semi-finals mean it's time to start doing two dances. The usual number plus the 'Swingathon', where there are 'no rules' and 'anything goes'. So they say.

After the high of last week, this week just didn't live up to expectations. You so wanted the routines to be great, and nothing quite hit the mark.

Ashley & Ola's salsa was a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde routine. The lifts were showstopping and brave. The neck drop was one of the best tricks we have ever seen. However, the salsa content was very flat-footed on Ashley's part. There were a couple of errors, and his arms looked a bit awkward when they were free.

Natalie & Artem's paso was well-danced, precise and accurate. But not very interesting. There was too much skirtopgraphy, and not much else. Artem's choreography was supposed to please Len. Not only did it not please Len, but it alienated everyone else. Natalie is perhaps being let down by her partner here. But Natalie is brilliant, and, as always, danced what she was given expertly. The judges should still judge the performance of the celebrity. The celebrity does not get to decide the choreography. Well, expect Mark and The Dinosaur.

Patrick & Anya had decent chemistry, although the rumba did feel like a battle rather than a romance. It felt like one of those lyrical routines you always see on shows like So You Think You Can Dance. I felt that it could have done with being 'bigger' on Patrick's part. His walks were a bit short and his lunges could have been broader. His hip action was fair. He is quite unlucky to have rumba so late in the competition, as they are never classic dances. But I agreed with Darcey that he brought something new to the floor this week.

The song choice was the biggest problem with Susanna & Kevin's Argentine tango. It made the whole thing not quite right. It looked a bit tentative and under-rehearsed, which of course it wasn't. It was there, but it wasn't there. It was all a bit of a shame, actually.

Abbey & AljaĆŸ brought the show back on track with their Viennese waltz. It was really lovely and had simple choreography. I loved the underarm part by the stairs. Abbey did a decent fleckerl attempt. Their hold was lovely. A good job.

I loved Sophie & Brendan's tango routine. Brendan has been on fire this year, and this was one of his best ever. I loved the story. Unfortunately, the whole thing was let down by Sophie's lack of strength. The attitude and attack was there, but her frame and core was weak. It was very wobbly and wooly. The hold was a bit too ballroom and not enough tango. It's such a shame. If Sophie had nailed it, it could have been one of those routines that people talk about for years to come. Jill & Darren's jive. Mark & Karen's Argentine tango. Chis & Ola's Charleston. But poor execution means it will just be another tango.

The Swingathon is impossible to judge at home, because you can only see what the camera shows you. It doesn't add anything to our viewing experience. I don't think I would have placed Natalie & Artem first, as I thought their performance was too vanilla. It was clean and precise, but lacked something. We're at a real disadvantage at home. They should really find a way to address it. Maybe a Brady Bunch-style split screen, so we can see all of the couples at once. The best part of the Swingathon was Darcey's reactions. She clearly didn't agree on more than one occasion. She didn't agree that Susanna & Kevin should go first, and she wanted Patrick & Anya to win. I love how she just keeps her head down while Bruno and Len are talking. Watch the video below if you missed it. It's classic.

It's so hard to pick a bottom two. Everyone is decent that it is now more about popularity than talent. I would put Ashley in the bottom two. His salsa was too hit and miss to go through automatically. So many couples got it wrong stylistically last night, that any of them except Abbey could be in the bottom two. Patrick was too angry. Sophie was too wooly. And Natalie and Susanna had routines which just didn't quite hit the mark. I really couldn't call it. My least favourite of them is Patrick, but that's not based on his dancing. I just like all of the girls more. I agonised over who to vote for for the first time in a while. I don't envy the judges one iota.

Here are the videos...

Ashley & Ola

Natalie & Artem

Patrick & Anya

Susanna & Kevin

Sophie & Brendan



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