It’s been a funny old series so far. The usually harsh but fair Craig seems to have been replaced by a thoroughly nasty random number generator. Tess either looks like Veronica Lake or as if wardrobe hate her. The cricketer who couldn’t dance produced the most beautiful quickstep and Denise has been accused of being a ringer. I thought this was a tad unfair, since the only ringers I know are racehorse doppelgangers but apparently ‘ringer’ can just mean ‘cheat’. I’m still sitting on the fence on that one. Given her background, is she cheating any more than Jason Donovan, or any of the other stage school products? And if she really is a professional dancer, as some have said, how come she practices more than almost anybody else?
Anyway, this week someone appears to have had a word in someone else’s shell like, because Brucie is mercifully given much less air time. Michael is without doubt the least natural of the seven dancers left but he’s also the one who works hardest. And so long as I get to see Louis do a show dance, I’m in the fortunate position of not minding too much what else happens. We start off with:
Kimberley: dancing the jive. It’s got an enormous amount of content, the kicks and flicks are good but she fumbled in one place which then put her off. And there was a very dodgy moment when Pasha went to pull her through his legs and I thought she was going to get stuck. The judges love her, don’t seem to mind the fluffed bits too much and Darcey says she looked like a professional. But then Bruno said she looked like a frisky rabbit which causes some confusion on my part.
Score: 34 (joint 2nd)
Dani: dancing the Viennese Waltz. Dani appears to me to have wonderful balance, shaping and control. And her partnership with Vincent looks very natural – you might think they had been dancing together for years. Bruno was moved to speak in Italian and then switched back to English to tell us it was enchanting. Craig had some minor niggles, thought it was sweet but said that it did not blow him away. Darcey liked it but wanted more curve in Dani’s upper body. Len praised the fact that whilst it had plenty of traditional VW content, it had some original extras in it.
Score: 34 (joint 2nd)
Michael: dancing the samba. I fear for him. People go out on salsas and sambas and Michael’s Latin dances are not good. Nat gets us in the party mood and you can see that Michael has worked really hard and is trying. Which is kind of the problem. It should look rather more effortless. Craig says it wasn’t completely dreadful whilst Darcey says it had great content. Len says that his left hip doesn’t know what his right hip is doing and Bruno calls him a one hip wonder. Then he forgets it’s before the watershed and tells him to swing both ways.
Score: 24 (last)
Nicky: this week he’s got the Argentine Tango with a Bond theme. He’s intense and quick, with great lifts but his posture is still off. Hunched shoulders are fine for a Charleston but don’t suit an AT. It was dramatic and in places well performed but there was something just not quite right about it. Darcey says it wasn’t sensual enough. Len praised the lifts but said it was too much of a ballroom tango and needed more fluidity to be a true AT. Bruno once again forgets what time of day it is but basically he liked it. Craig praises the story telling but says it was aggressive and stompy.
Score: 30 (6th)
Lisa: quickstepping to Bring me Sunshine. The song is appropriate but Lisa loses it completely in places. Lisa has a natural rhythm but other dancers have improved more quickly than she has. Her timing is off, she misses some steps, and at the end she falls over. Craig praises the incredible energy and says there was a messy incident. Darcey praises her energy and says she’s fast and light. Bruno loved it and Len says it was fast and fun.
Score: 31 (5th)
Denise: has the salsa, or the dance of death. Except she’s got it the week that Michael has to samba, so she’s probably safe. Fair play to Denise, whatever her background and training, the woman can perform. However, just when I’m thinking how great the lifts are something goes seriously wrong somewhere and there’s a bewildering pause followed by James chucking her over his shoulder. Bruno says there were a couple of near misses which she covered well and he would like to see her move her hips more. James then confesses that he blanked when he was supposed to lift her. Brave of him, I can’t really see him living that down and Craig suddenly looks happier than he’s been in weeks. Craig says she has the best spins, Darcey and Len also liked it.
Score: 32 (4th)
Louis: dancing the Charleston. I’ve seen clips of this in practice and I’ve been looking forward to it so much I’ve become worried that it can’t live up to expectations. Fortunately it exceeds them. Flavia brought in an acting coach who seems to have done wonders. The Charleston proves to be Louis’s dance. It has few rules meaning Flavia can chuck in as many acrobatics as she likes, and she has. The hands free cartwheel was one of the least athletic things she asked Louis to do – it is worth watching it again because his control on landing was amazing. And it was control that he needed because he also backflipped, landing astride Flavia as she lay on the floor. Over-acting will always be easier than acting and the Charleston allows Louis to ham it up to the max. He’s even been allowed to moon walk. Oh, and in all of that were a load of kicks, flicks and swivels as well. Darcey says he has the makings of a silent movie star, Len praises the performance, Bruno wants a house call from the doctor and Craig looks peeved that he’s been deprived of his favourite hobby of Louis-bashing this week.
Score: 37 (1st)
I am bewildered by Craig this year. He gave both Denise and Louis an 8 and I’ll be intrigued to hear his justification on It Takes Two. Denise’s routine had some obvious errors whereas Louis’s didn’t. Peering at some of the side by side sections, Louis and Flavia didn’t always quite mirror each other but otherwise I was hard put to see anything wrong with it. And he’s the only celebrity I’ve seen who can swivel equally on both sides.
I think 37 was a fair score for Louis’s Charleston in total, it’s just that other people have been overmarked and the marking is very inconsistent overall. The judges spend a lot of time praising performance but their attitude to technique varies between dancers. Rarely do they give Lisa any technical feedback whereas some other competitors get hammered for tiny details. I’d love to see a breakdown of how they score, or if they even have some kind of breakdown.
Anyway, onto the later on Saturday results show. I have no idea what Tess is wearing. She is a beautiful woman so how she’s been made to look like a sequinned frump is beyond me. Louis is announced as safe first, followed by Lisa. Michael, a little unsurprisingly, is in the dance off. He and Nat both kind of shrug as if they both half expected it. Then Denise and Dani are saved leaving a petrified Kimberley alongside Nicky. But it’s Nicky in the dance off.
Michael is having fun but his second dance looks as wooden as his first. Nicky ups his game and is clearly the better dancer. Or, at least, his AT is better than Michael’s samba. If Michael had had a ballroom dance this week it might have been another story. Anyway, the judges are unanimous in saving Nicky. I think the right dancer went but I will miss Michael. I went from an irrational dislike of him to really admiring him and his ability to work and learn. Watching him, you could aspire to be a dancer because you could see how hard work would pay off and he and Natalie had a really lovely partnership. And surely Strictly should be about watching someone with no dance background learn how to enjoy dancing? It shouldn’t really be about the egos of Bruce, Craig and Len, though at the moment it seems as if it is.