Strictly Come Blogging

Louise. Lou. Loulabelle. Loulabelle44. Louby. loulabelle44@outlook.com.
Proudly blogging about Strictly Come Dancing ALL YEAR ROUND since 2006. Always spoiler-free.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Sunday Service: Week 10

Oft. This is getting tough. They really are all so good. It's going to be so sad to see anyone leave.

The paso wasn’t Rose & Giovanni’s best dance, but I certainly enjoyed it. Her walks could have perhaps a little more power and perhaps it was a little stiff. But I loved everything in hold, and the characterisation was spot on. She lived the character. She is so watchable that I end up forgiving the things that aren’t so great.
 
I expected Dan & Nadiya’s rumba to be a bit vanilla and a bit cringy, but I actually found myself enjoying it. It was quite intimate. The choreography was simple, but it meant that he was able to execute it well. He presented Nadiya very well. It wasn’t perfect, of course, but it was enjoyable. It’s nice to see the rumba on Strictly, because so many couples shy away from it.
 
AJ & Kai’s Couple’s Choice was cool and stylish. It was sharp and very well danced. It could have been a final showdance. The jump lift was brave and she executed it with confidence. It was a really strong performance.
 
I really wanted to love Rhys & Nancy’s waltz, but I just liked it. The opening was wonderful, so relaxed and calm. Once they took hold, his dancing was lovely, but his timing felt a little off in places. Just a little rushed some of the time. His frame has improved so much, his footwork was great and his smile was wonderful.
 
It was clear that Tilly enjoyed the samba. She brought the party and did a decent job at dancing it. I didn’t love Nikita’s choreography, though. It didn’t seem very fluid, a bit disjointed. I feel as though Tilly could have delivered a better performance with different choreography.
 
It was wonderful to see John & Johannes get back to their best. Their Argentine tango was strong and intimate. It was spot on, and it was great to see them do the same choreography that a couple of opposite gender would do, rather than the more ‘battle’ style we’ve often seen the pro men do in the group numbers.

My favourites of the week were AJ and John. While I am firmly in the 'Dan has overstayed his welcome' camp, I actually think Tilly was the weakest of the night. I almost want to see Dan and Tilly in the dance-off together to see who the judges save. It's going to be tough to see anyone leave. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Saturday Service: Week 9

It's Musicals Week. Even though at least four of the dances were actually movies before they were musicals. But, hey.

AJ & Kai’s waltz was very sweet. It’s really hard to sell such a slow dance, which has nothing flashy about it, but they did. It was calm, the footwork looked good, the whole thing was magical. A wonderful start to the show.

Rhys didn’t seem as confident in his jive as he has in other dances. He seemed to keep looking to Nancy for reassurance. There were a few errors, and timing issues. His feet were not pointed, which made everything look a tad untidy. It was a little uneasy to watch.

Tom & Amy’s Couple’s Choice was well danced, but lacked heart. Cynthia nailed it, he just doesn’t connect to the dancing on an emotion level. He’s a very nice dancer, but I guess there’s a reason his sister is an actor and he is a musician.

I loved Rose & Giovanni’s quickstep. It was fun and cute and joyful. The storytelling was great and the dancing was lovely too. There was a lovely balance of dancing in hold and out of hold. Rose nailed all of it. They are so wonderful to watch.

There were so lovely moments in John & Johannes’ Viennese waltz, but also some less lovely moments. John looked great when he was leading, especially on the natural turns. It looked less smooth on the reverse turns. And when he switched to following it was a bit flat. Out of hold, he looks great. Very confident.

I struggled to really get into Tilly & Nikita’s Couple’s Choice. I think it was the weird counts of the music. I’m not familiar with Matilda, so I ended up feeling a bit confused. That aside, I really enjoyed Tilly’s performance. She seemed to stay in time even if my brain couldn’t. I didn’t love the choreography, but Tilly gave it everything and made it an enjoyable watch. I didn’t really even notice Nikita.

Dan & Nadiya’s Charleston was annoyingly good. It was quite charming. His timing was good. His performance was good too. I was actually quite surprised by the 7s from Cynthia and Motsi.

Rose was my favourite this week. My least favourite were probably Tom and Rhys. But with so few couples left, anyone could end up in the dance-off.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Cynthia Erivo To Guest Judge

Actor and singer Cynthia Erivo will stand in for Craig Revel Horwood as a guest judge on Strictly for Musicals Week.

The BBC announced on Monday that Craig would miss tomorrow's programme as he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Today it was announced that Cynthia Erivo will join the panel as a guest in his place. This will be the first time that the panel has been more than 50% female.

Cynthia said: “I’m so delighted to be joining the Strictly judging panel for Musicals Week. Musicals have a unique place in my heart, it’s such a special way of connecting all art and making it one. I’m excited to bring my experience to the show and I can’t wait to see what the couples have in store this weekend.”

Cynthia definitely has the credentials to judge the competition during Musicals Week. She won Tony award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Celie Harris Johnson in The Color Purple on Broadway. She also appeared in I Can't Sing! in the West End, alongside Nigel Harman and a cardboard cut-out of me! And lots of other shows, obviously.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Sunday Service: Week 8

 Here are my thoughts on last night's Strictly.

The show kicked off with a bright and light quickstep from Tilly & Nikita. It was a really strong performance. Tilly looked as though she was having lots of fun and acted really well. There was very little gapping. Great choreography from Nikita. I definitely seemed to like it more than the judges did. I thought they were a hit harsh on Tilly.
 
I don’t think the paso was AJ & Kai’s strongest dance. She looked unbalanced on some of the turns and it seemed a bit unstable. The running steps lacked flair. Everything in hold was fine, but it was lacking a little out of hold. I never thought we’d see a dance which AJ didn’t nail, especially one with the drama of the paso.
 
Dan & Nadiya’s American smooth lacked the smooth. The top of the routine on the step was actually quick stylish, but it fell away as he got into the routine. His knees were bent when it was in hold, and forward steps lacked drive. The lifts were pretty awkward and laboured. On the positive side, his timing was good. The little bits out of hold were quite nice.
 
Rhys & Nancy’s Charleston had the trademark Rhys attack. It could have been dialled down a little, but it didn’t detract from this dance as much as it has on other weeks. It was fast, but it was all in time. This is probably Rhys’ dance to date, and I have a feeling we’ll look back on this dance as his peak. I’m not sure he’ll be able to top this one.
 
I wasn’t a fan of Sara & Aljaž’s Argentine tango. It lacked resistance and tension. It also lacked story and chemistry. She seemed to be anticipating the steps, and it’s so important to wait for the lead in Argentine tango. It wasn’t awful, but it could have been so much better.
 
I smiled all the way through John & Johannes’ samba. It was so joyful. Johannes did steal the show a little bit, and John looked laid back and was happy to let him go for it. It just worked.
 
Tom & Amy’s Viennese waltz was just OK. His frame wasn’t great, his bottom was stuck out a little and his shoulders weren’t pulled back enough. I agree with Anton that they got lost among a really big song. The whole thing was just a bit lacking for me.
 
I totally agree with Anton. I’ve watched Strictly since day 1. I’ve not missed a single dance. In all these years, nothing has moved me as much as Rose & Giovanni’s couple’s choice. Dancing has power and can communicate things which cannot be communicated in words.

My favourites of the night were Rhys, John and Rose. My bottom two are Tom and Dan. Neither of them excites me. I never look forward to the moment they walk on the floor. 

It's getting really close now, and it's concerning that there might come a point when two really good couples end up in the dance-off.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Congratulations Pasha & Rachel!

Congratulations to former Strictly pro Pasha Kovalev and his partner Rachel Riley who recently welcomed their second daughter Noa into the world.

Rachel posted the news and some photos on Instagram.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Sunday Service: Week 7

The week after a theme week is often a bit flat, but this was a strong week for many of the contestants.

Adam & Katya’s jive was light and relaxed. His kicks were neat and everything was pretty tidy. It’s a shame there was a big error in the middle, which threw his timing off. But I think this was an improvement for Adam. He deserved to be saved last week. I don’t approve of their dancing on the baize, though.
 
Is there anything Rose can’t do? Her samba looked so natural, her hip action is amazing. It’s clear that Rose has to work harder with the timing in Latin, and she was counting out loud again, but it was still a joy to watch. I love Rose & Giovanni’s partnership. Wonderful stuff.
 
A pretty decent paso from Tom & Amy. Tom is very ‘up and down’ for me, but this dance was an up. It was nice to see a proper traditional paso on Strictly. We don’t get enough of those these days. Lovely lines, everything was very neat, and some lovely cape work in the middle. Not 100% sure about his ‘stank face’, but if it helped him get into character then that’s fine.
 
I didn’t really follow why the theming of Rhys & Nancy’s quickstep was Uptown Girl. It was probably the most calm we’ve seen these two and their hard work showed. In hold, they were glued together with no gapping. It’s not perfect, but it was an impressive improvement for Rhys.
 
I loved Tilly & Nikita’s tango. It was fierce and staccato. Tilly has improved so much, and she is no longer someone to overlook. I really enjoyed her performance. I’m not sure why the judges didn’t love it.
 
I found Dan & Nadiya’s Couple’s Choice baffling. I didn’t hate it. But I’m not sure I loved it either. I don’t really know what it was, and there were several times where my brain went ‘That’s Dan off BBC Breakfast’. This is probably why Couple’s Choice is better when there are clearly defined styles to choose from.
 
Loved John & Johannes’ rumba. Absolutely wonderful, beautifully danced. Gorgeous choreography, beautiful hip action, and it was so simple. It was beautifully immersive and like Motsi said, it was like you were in a room alone with them. Possibly their best dance for me.
 
AJ & Kai’s Charleston was everything we expected. It was sharp and fizzy. The lifts were insane, the swivel was perfect. Brilliant.
 
Sara & Aljaž’s quickstep was solid. Their hold was better than I expected based on their training footage in the week. Sara is very comfortable in hold, her frame was good and her footwork was good. But I wasn’t moved by them.

I did not agree with the leaderboard this week. I was shocked to see Rose and Tilly so low down. They were my favourites, alongside John and AJ. It's really hard to predict who might be in the dance-off, but it could easily be Dan and Adam. I really feel that it's Dan's time to go, but he seems to be really popular with the public. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sunday Service: Week 6

There were some really good routines this Halloween, and a few less strong. But it’s always a joy to watch.
 
John & Johannes kicked off the night with a werewolf quickstep. It was fast and it covered the floor well. I felt as though the hold could have been a little tighter and more solid, but that’s being really nitpicky. I guess it just wasn’t as showstopping as previous weeks.
 
AJ & Kai continue to kill it! Their Viennese waltz was fantastic. It covered the floor well and had all the drama of previous weeks. Brilliant choreography from Kai. Loved it.
 
I didn’t really enjoy Dan & Nadiya’s jive. There was a lot of Nadiya dancing around Dan, while his feet were not really moving. The jive steps were a bit heavy, his feet weren’t pointed on the kicks. The timing looked a bit off at the start. Dan is OK, but this just wasn’t his dance.
 
I liked Rhys & Nancy’s paso. Rhys had more control than he has shown in other dances. He led Nancy well and showed fire. Some of his shaping wasn’t quite right, but I think it was Rhys’ best performance for some weeks.
 
Sara & Aljaž’s Couple’s Choice routine didn’t do it for me. It was paso inspired, but Sara lacked purpose and shape. She needs more attack and core strength. Her walks looked a little like she was walking to the bus stop. It just didn’t land. It still feels a bit pro-am, rather than a true partnership.
 
Such a brilliant tango from Rose & Giovanni. As Craig said, they smashed it. The quality of her dancing is wonderful, and she brought her acting skills. The way she grabbed Giovanni’s face in the middle was a proper moment. Totally deserved scores.
 
Tilly & Nikita’s cha cha was cute. It was fun, and was something nice and light in a night full of dramatic numbers. Cha cha isn’t really a crowd pleaser, and they did a good job. I loved her look too, one of my favourites of the night. Well done hair, make-up and costume.
 
I think this might be Adam’s best performance so far. His Viennese waltz with Katya was good, especially in hold. His flerkerl was a bit ploddy, and the timing toward the end was a bit iffy. He’s not the best dancer in the competition, but he continues to slowly improve.
 
It was a massive thrill to see Judi & Graziano training at my old dance studio in south-east London! It was clear that they didn’t have much time to train. It was fine, but it lacked a bit of confidence and there was an error or two in there. I hope Judi gets the opportunity to do something else, as I would hate to see her go out on this.

I think Tom & Amy overdid it with the fake tan this week! The tango was good, but he really needs to work on his frame and pull his shoulders back. He was leading with his left arm and lent forward a little. I didn’t love it.
 
I think the leaderboard was actually a pretty good reflection of everyone’s position this week. Rose and AJ were my favourites of the week by a long way. Dan, Sara and Judi could all be in trouble.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Panto Round-Up

Panto is back. So the Panto Round-Up is also back!

Here is where to find your favourite Strictly stars, past and present, in pantomime this Christmas.

Shirley Ballas (judge), Snow White - Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells
Anton du Beke (judge, ex-pro), Cinderella - Richmond Theatre, London
Craig Revel Horwood (judge), Cinderella - Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Donny Osmond (guest judge), Pantoland at the Palladium, London Palladium, London

Katya Jones (pro), Snow White - King George's Hall, Blackburn
Brendan Cole (ex-pro), Robin Hood - White Rock Theatre, Hastings
Joanne Clifton (ex-pro), Jack & The Beanstalk - Malthouse Theatre, Canterbury
AJ Pritchard (ex-pro), Cinderella - Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
Robin Windsor (ex-pro), Beauty & The Beast - The Pavilion, Worthing

Claire Sweeney (Series 1), Cinderella - The Atkinson, Southport
Julian Clary (Series 2), Pantoland at the Palladium, London Palladium, London
Colin Jackson (Series 3), Snow White - Grand Theatre, Swansea
Brian Capron (Series 5), Dick Whittington - Stockport Plaza, Stockport
Anita Dobson (Series 9), Aladdin - Brighton Centre, Brighton
Jason Donovan (Series 9), Goldilocks & The Three Bears - Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham
Dani Harmer (Series 10), Cinderella - Theatre Royal, Bath
Jake Wood (Series 12), Peter Pan - Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
Lesley Joseph (Series 14), Snow White - Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol
Robert Rinder (Series 14), Snow White - Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol
Alexandra Burke (Series 15), Aladdin - Opera House, Manchester
Brian Conley (Series 15), Cinderella - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Ranj Singh (Series 16), Sleeping Beauty - Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Faye Tozer (Series 16), Cinderella - Darlington Hippodrome, Darlington

Su Pollard (Christmas 2011), Snow White - Sunderland Empire, Sunderland
Rufus Hound (Christmas 2013), Aladdin - New Theatre, Peterborough

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sunday Service: Week 5

What a show! So many couples put in their best performances of the series. And so much talk of technique in the VTs. Be still my beating dancer heart!

Dan & Nadiya’s Viennese waltz was very romantic. There were a few things he could have done better, of course. Some of the steps could be longer and have more drive. His fleckerl looked a little bit ‘jumpy’. That aside, it was a lovely routine and Dan really presented Nadiya well. I think it could be Dan’s best dance so far.

Bless Adam. It was clear that he had worked really hard on the samba. Katya’s routine was pleasant, and I actually enjoyed how seriously Adam had taken it. His lock steps were decent, he looked better in hold than out. It wasn’t a bad effort for a really difficult dance. And I don’t think it’s the first time Adam’s taken a jacket off like that…

Sara & Aljaž’s rumba was fine, but a little dull. Like Adam, it was clear that Sara had worked hard all week, but it fell a bit flat for me. It lacked a bit of finesse and performance. It was all a bit nice. I’m not sure if her timing was all there, it seemed as though Aljaž was doing all the work to keep the timing.

Tom & Amy’s salsa was probably the best routine he’s done so far. Great choreography, decent lifts, lots of rhythm. I’ve found him a bit uninteresting so far, but this dance made me sit up and take notice of him. He seems pretty popular and now I am starting to see what other people like about him.

I really enjoyed Tilly & Nikita’s foxtrot. It was elegant and sweet. Her technique was the best I’ve seen from her. She released her heels on the backward steps, her heel turn was lovely. Another personal best this week.

AJ & Kai gave us everything we want to see in the Argentine tango. It was intense and passionate. I loved all of the leg work and the lifts. It was intimate and powerful. The only thing she could improve is the extension of her feet on some of the kicks, she really needs to point her feet. This pair is so watchable. I just love them together.

Ugo & Oti’s rumba was really good, especially considering Ugo’s injury. I thought Ugo partnered Oti really well, he presented her and allowed her to shine. I think the judges were actually a bit harsh on them, they were really easy on the eye.

We got a brilliant Charleston from John & Johannes. It was so synchronised. Their side-by-side dancing is always spot on, but this week they added some fun lifts too. Everything was clean and precise. Is there anything this pair can’t do?

It was wonderful to see Rose doing something so intense. She proved with her Viennese waltz that she can give us so many emotions. Giovanni’s choreography was brilliant, the timing was great as always, it was such a joy to watch.

Rhys & Nancy
are so dynamic out of hold. I loved all of the side-by-side sections in their American smooth. In hold, it all falls a bit flat and I lose interest. He’s still a bit pigeon-toed as well. I really wanted to love their routine, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

It was a week of personal bests. So many couples put in their best performances of the series for far. Tom, Tilly, John, Rose and AJ were all outstanding. Sara, Adam and Ugo could all be in trouble. It really is so close this series. And the leaderboard just keeps flipping.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Judi Tests Positive For Covid-19

Judi Love has tested positive for Covid-19, and therefore will not be able to perform tomorrow night. She tweeted the news yesterday:

It's a bit of an extreme way to avoid a third dance-off in a row!

In all seriousness, though, government advice is to self-isolate for 10 days following a positive PCR result. Presuming Judi's positive test was yesterday (Thursday), her isolation would not end until Saturday. This would mean that all her training for next week would need to be done via video call, assuming she is well enough to train at all. She would be unable to train in person with Graziano until Saturday. It's going to be a tough week ahead!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday Service: Week 4

Another day out tomorrow, so another early reaction.

I am sorry to see Robert withdraw from the competition. I was looking forward to seeing how he would progress, but his health absolutely comes first.

I hope Ugo is able to come back next week. He's probably on the sofa still in his Moana wig.

Rose & Giovanni’s cha cha was sweet. Rose had a good leg and hip action. There was a little error just before the New Yorkers, but otherwise it was good. She is always a joy to watch. I also loved that she is now not counting out loud so much. She’s got the confidence to count in her head and it made the whole atheistic even better. And we need to take a moment just to reflect on Giovanni’s velvet ‘leather’ jacket and Rose’s tasselled strides.

Choreographically, I really enjoyed Tom & Amy’s foxtrot. It was charming and Hollywood. There were a couple of things that made it look a bit odd. Tom is very pigeon-toed, and his left arm was too far forward at times which made his top line odd. It made him lean over Amy at times. His timing is perfect, though. He has a way to go, but he shows potential.

Tilly & Nikita’s paso was very hit and miss for me. Some of Tilly’s lines were gorgeous, but some of her travelling steps were a bit stompy. She also needs to make sure she keeps her chin up, her head was tilted down too much of the time.

Greg & Karen. Oh dear. The most dad dancing we’ve seen in a while. It was just too serious to be a comedy samba, but not good enough. Just cringy. I didn’t like it. Greg is a nice guy, but I think he’s hit the ceiling.

I didn’t really get the beginning of John & Johannes’ American smooth, but once they both got up and dancing, it was really good. Everything they do looks effortless. The lift was very nice. I think that the hold could have been tighter, though. Maybe it was just a little too much time out of hold.

Rhys & Nancy’s salsa was a bit nuts, much like them. It could have done with more partnering, and less time out of hold. It was fine, but I didn’t love it. Maybe it was the music. I don’t know. I’d like to see Rhys take it down a level some time. I did enjoy the popcorn pyro at the end, though.

Poor music choice for Sara & Aljaž’s tango, too Argentine to make it work for me. Sara’s feet are good (except for not pointing her toes on the ganchos) and her topline is good, but her mid-section needs more attack. She didn’t twist her hips all that well when she should have. Sorry, judges. I didn’t like it.

I enjoyed Dan & Nadiya’s cha cha. It was bonkers and fun. Was it a proper cha cha? Of course not! Dan’s right hand was very dodgy at times – he really needs to finish his arm lines properly. It was what Greg & Karen’s routine should have been.

There’s something very watchable about Judi. Was it a perfect waltz? No. Her footwork was poor, she didn’t move her head from left to right with the steps. Graziano spent a lot of the routine dancing around her. But I enjoyed seeing a softer side to Judi. She brought the emotion and romance. I look forward to seeing her do ballroom again.

Adam & Katya’s Argentine tango was a whole lot of lift. It was very intense, but I didn’t really feel anything other than thinking it was quite clever. Adam’s movement lacks finesse in the transitions. It seemed to lack non-lift content.

I really enjoyed AJ & Kai’s samba, and didn’t think it was as bad as the judges made out. OK, her batucadas were not great, but she had great rhythm and attack. She brought the party and I enjoyed it.

My favourites tonight were Rose and AJ. The weakest for me by a country mile for me was Greg, and if he's in the dance-off, his days are numbered. Judi and Dan could also be in trouble if they land in the dance-off.

It's such a good competition. It's going to get brutal as the weeks go on.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Saturday Service: Week 3

Theme weeks are always a bit of a gamble. Movie week can often not live up to the hype. Thankfully, there were enough good routines this time around.

Judi & Graziano’s Charleston was solid. It was far from being one we’ll remember in years to come, but she did a decent job. I loved the song choice, it was perfect for Judi. It could have been cheekier and quirkier, but it was a good performance.

 

Dan & Nadiya’s foxtrot was sweet, even if it didn’t quite work out. It did feel like Nadiya was leading from behind. It lacked a little bit of command and drive. I think Dan can bounce back from a disappointing week. As Shirley said, it is only week three.

 

I didn’t really enjoy Sara & Aliaž’s samba. It was just all a bit cringy. The dancing lacked a bit of bounce. She managed all of the choreography. I just felt like the theme overtook everything. And those shoes, but I guess green latin sandals aren’t a thing.

 

I loved AJ & Kai’s American smooth. I’m glad they went for a Viennese waltz rather than another foxtrot. The chemistry was amazing. The musicality of Kai’s routine was great, he really choreographed to the accents in the music. AJ’s quality had improved since last week. I thought the weakest part was the fleckerl, she started to lose her steps a little toward the end.

 

If you set aside the frankly bizarre Kermit & Piggy costumes, Robert & Dianne’s quickstep was actually quite good. There was a lot of quickstep content in the routine. As the judges noted, it wasn’t perfect, but he kept going and kept it together.

 

Greg was a little bit campy for Bond. His paso lacked fluidity and was a bit jerky. It was a little ‘small’ in places as well. It could have been so good, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. Karen makes a wonderful Bond girl, though.

 

Some of Tilly’s jive was spot on, other parts of it were a bit heavy footed. It was a challenging routine, and Tilly was running out of energy toward the end. She was looking to Nikita a lot, she didn’t seem to be that confident with the choreography. There was a bit of a mistake in the middle. I think she is showing progression, though.

 

Rose & Giovanni’s foxtrot was beautiful. They moved and breathed as one. It was magical. Giovanni is the master of classy, simple ballroom choreography. It was fantastic.

 

Ugo & Oti did street commercial for their Couple’s Choice routine, and it worked well. There were a couple of nice tricks. It was the type of routine that means he didn’t have to worry about technique and he looked as though he enjoyed the performance. It was relaxed.

 

Tom & Amy’s jive was decent. High energy, with lots of flicks and sharp kicks. I found the guitar a bit cumbersome and wish they would have lost it earlier in the routine, but otherwise I liked it.

 

The rumba is a very exposing dance, and it’s really tough. I think Adam made some nice shapes, but his timing was not great. There were a couple of times he was ahead of the music and Katya had to hold him back a little.

 

I loved the Cruella movie, and I really wanted to love Katie & Gorka’s foxtrot American smooth, but I didn’t. I wanted more attitude in the characterisation. I also wanted cleaner footwork, and pointed toes on the kicks. It was a solid performance, but it just left me feeling a bit cold.

 

Rhys & Nancy’s street commercial Couple’s Choice was energetic and fun. Perfect for a kid’s TV presenter. It was a perfect routine for him. I did feel that it lacked a little bit of synchronicity – it wasn’t quite on point for me. I think it would have worked better as a solo.

 

Another strong performance from John & Johannes. Their paso picked up where their tango left off. John’s lines are just beautiful. It was powerful. They are fantastic in hold, and so in sync out of hold. I’m just gutted that the two most dramatic dances are already done. I hope the rest of their programme can live up to this.


My favourites of the night were Rose, AJ and John. I didn't really enjoy Robert or Sara, but I can't help thinking that Katie is a likely candidate for the bottom two again. I think Robert might join her.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Sunday Service: Week 2

After the high of last Saturday, last night's show felt really flat and took a long time to really get going. Definitely a show of two halves.

Rhys & Nancy’s cha cha routine took a little too long to get going for my taste. He tried hard with the leg action but it just wasn’t quite right for me. I can’t put my finger on why. The whole thing was a little jerky. Not as good as last week, but he’s still a great performer. He was better with the non-cha cha parts of the choreography.
 
Nina’s timing is fantastic, but sadly her tango wasn’t the triumph that the samba was. It looked a bit stompy out of hold. In hold, her head wasn’t far away enough. She needs to stretch over to her left much more. Her feet also didn’t look great, she needed to point her feet on the Argentine sections, and work through the heel better in the ballroom tango walks. I also felt she was anticipating the steps, rather than letting Neil lead. I love Nina, and she can give us so much more.
 
Adam & Kayta’s quickstep was OK, but not a stormer. Another routine which took a bit too long to get going. They weren’t in sync at all times, and it looked as though they were fighting against each other throughout. The grand jeté at the end didn’t come off either. It just wasn’t his dance.
 
Katie & Gorka’s jive just didn’t quite hit the mark. Katie has great timing, but seems to not quite to use her whole body. Everything seems a bit robotic in dancing terms, but she has the personality. She needs to point her toes as well.
 
Greg & Karen’s Couple’s Choice disco routine was very sweet. It was calm and easy on the eye. He looked a tiny bit lost just before the big lift, but thankfully turned back in time.
 
I loved how John & Johannes avoided issues around who was leading and who was following by staying out of hold for almost the entire routine. They were so synchronised, and they needed to be for it to work. It was a great routine, and I am looking forward to more from them. I agree with Shirley and I hope they don’t shy away from being in hold. Based on last week’s tango, I’m sure they won’t.

I liked AJ & Kai’s foxtrot. It was elegant and effortless. I would have like to see AJ work more on her footwork. Her heel turn could have been better (sorry, Anton) and I would love to see her flicking up her toes on the backward steps. I’m being super critical, though. AJ is great.

I loved Judi’s samba so much! It was so joyful. And Graziano actually put plenty of samba content into the routine. There was a natural top, whisks and voltas. I’d love to see Judi push her arms out more in places – they were a bit too far forward. But who cares, it was great!

Robert & Dianne's tango was good. I was glad to see him take it seriously. He demonstrated that he is a capable dancer. He has great timing. I think the only thing that let him downs was his topline. He was leaning in to his left hand a bit. But overall it was good.
 
Rose & Giovanni’s salsa was brilliant. It looked even better than last week’s jive. Great movement throughout. I’m not sure she enjoyed it as much as the jive, but I did. Brilliant lifts. The faith Giovanni has in Rose’s timing was evident, as he put her in front of him for a section where she could not see him.
 
Sara has had a complete turnaround from last week. Her foxtrot was effortless. Her footwork was excellent. She and Aljaž filled the music completely and looked so elegant. I loved it.
 
I really liked Dan & Nadiya’s paso. It wasn’t perfect, but I really enjoyed. Perhaps it did lack a bit of light and shade and fluidity, but it worked somehow.
 
Ugo & Oti’s quickstep was decent. They covered the floor well. He had a good frame, and looked comfortable on the floor. He was better than last week, and proved why he should stay another week.
 
There was so much choreography in Tilly & Nikita’s Charleston, and she kept up with it really well. It was a really tricky routine. I think she might have started to flag toward the end, but who wouldn’t? It was fun. And you have to love racketograhy.

My favourites last night were Sara, Judi and Rose, closely followed by John.

It's so difficult to predict who might go home. Those that were bottom of the leaderboard in Week 1 pulled it out of the bag last night. For the first time, I can't pick an obvious candidate for an exit. It could end up being a shocker.

For me, the most likely candidate to go home is Katie. She has been the one that no-one has really talked about. She's not a bad dancer, but really didn't stand out in either week. I loved her tango, but it wasn't memorable enough. Nina could also be in trouble, although I hope last week's samba will swing it her way. Greg is flying a bit under the radar as well. And Tilly's first week wasn't so good, but she ended on a high with the Charleston. It's really too close to call.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Arlene Joins I'm A Celebrity...

Former Strictly judge Dame Arlene Phillips has reportedly signed up for this year's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!.

The Daily Mirror reports that Dame Arlene will join the show, this autumn which once again will take place at Gwrych Castle in Wales, and at 78 is I'm A Celebrity...'s oldest participant to date. A source told the paper: “Arlene is strong and tough and her energy is boundless. No doubt she’ll have the group dancing around the campfire in a bid to beat the cold and keep morale high. Should be fun.”

Hmm... I might have to tune in for the first time in a few years.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Tom & Amy Test Positive For Covid-19

Tom Fletcher & Amy Dowden have both tested positive for Covid-19, and will have to sit out of the competition next week.

Amy posted the news on Instagram:

It's really unfortunate this has happened, but hopefully the backstage protocols will mean that they are the only cast members affected.  Unlike real life for most of us now, Strictly still has social distancing rules in place and crew members are wearing masks. I'm sure they are both gutted that they have to sit out. I wish them both well.