Strictly Week 5 – Fright Night!

Strictly Come Dancing Week 5 – Fright Night for Halloween

Last week it was Rory who made a dignified exit but with Halloween in the air who would give us a fright this week and who would become the latest Pumpkin in the ballroom?

Russell & Flavia (Scored 4, 6, 6, 6, 22) : Suffering with his legs last week how would he battle through this week? Well the little devil treated us to a Samba that wasn’t quite up to par for us with a few errors here and there. He’s likeable and entertaining isn’t he, always willing to put himself out there, but technically this was lacking in several places. He’s still riding the wave of camp performances with his enthusiasm but technically will this allow him through the next few weeks?

Chelsee & Pasha (Scored 7, 8, 9, 8, 32) : Last week’s chart topper was surely under pressure to show a repeat of such a high scoring dance from last week? Despite dancing in a bit of a fog, and a tricky costume issue, she held her own and is improving her performances from those frenzied early weeks. She had some fire in the belly tonight, clearly worked up and wanted to deliver more. If she can keep this going then she’s in it for the longer term we think. Technically still more to do but getting there.

Audley & Natalie (Scored 3, 6, 6, 5, 20) : We feared for his jive, requiring such lightness of feet and it was completely unfounded in the end. It was another spirited (ho ho!) effort from the likeable Audley but he was heavy footed and struggled at times with the body speed. This dance showed his vulnerability and maybe leaves him vulnerable. We had to agree with Craig but Audley certainly threw himself into it and held a smile. Could be vulnerable this week.

Alex & James (Scored 7, 8, 8, 8, 31) : Their Paso did have some passion and drama, especially given the music wasn’t really filled with highlights to bring out their finest choreography. This was an improvement from last week but she certainly didn’t look too self-assured and quite relieved afterwards we felt. A good score and surely safe for another few weeks if she keeps going like this.

Holly & Artem (Scored 8, 9, 9, 9, 35) : It was their turn for the American Smooth this week, to Swan Lake for Halloween – what a recipe! Well, it was a little short in content we felt, but really atmospheric. Some of the lines weren’t 100% finished but she certainly looks a candidate for the later weeks with these strong performances. Very vulnerable in this dance tonight but held her own really well. Keep it going Holly.

Nancy & Anton (Scored 2, 5, 3, 4, 14) : Dancing the Rumba, would she be able to get into character or more importantly get that dancing going a fair bit better? Well, she didn’t show the improvement we all hope for each week, and she was somewhat behind the others already. It just isn’t competing with the others at the moment and the score reflected that fairly we felt. Poor Anton. Surely she can’t survive another week?

Harry & Aliona (Scored 8, 7, 10, 9, 34) : Their Tango had a good story with drama and character but there was so little Tango content here. We were left frustrated by the lack of steps he showed. Those he did, great and it was all looking so good but blink and you missed it. He’s capable but the choreography is more showdance than the dance subject for the week – this is what stopped him holding the highest score this week.

Robbie & Ola (Scored 4, 7, 8, 7, 26) : Paso was the dance that left Jason off the top of the leader board last week, and this is a bit similar for Robbie. Technically it was lacking – it’s a bit more that just walking strongly through the figures. It was full of energy from him again but it wasn’t the best Paso to top the charts this week. Come on Robbie,the others are upping their technique so you have to do the same now too.

Anita & Robin (Scored 7, 8, 8, 8, 31) : It was a good week for Anita last week so we hoped for much the same, in hold once again, for the Tango this week. She clearly got to grips with her Devil Woman character and acting is not a problem here. She showed more dance content than some of the others so didn’t shy away from it. She needs more attack with her feet, strength in the body and a few other improvements to really step up but this was not at all bad. Not the worst this week by any means, but needs more improvement.

Lulu & Brendan (Scored 6, 7, 8, 8, 29) : Lulu underperformed last with her Samba but remains popular with the public. Dancing the Paso, could she perform more strongly? Well, it didn’t seem to have the body strength here and there but she made it through a big performance full of content and flare – a big opening, big finish handling all of the flying so well. Brave stuff. More improvements! Safe for a while yet.

Jason & Kristina (Scored 9, 9, 10, 9, 37) : A tougher week for Jason last week saw him not get on top of the Paso as he had the other dances. With his quickstep, he didn’t to show poise, light and shade and good use of feet and ankles. Not only did he show some good signs of that, but what a clever choreography too. A really enjoyable story told very successfully; not flawless with a few minor bloopers and the odd passage with his bottom stuck out, but great way to end the show. Great score and the highest so far.

It looks like Nancy might be vulnerable this week, with Audley not far off her towards the bottom of the leader board. It all depends on the public vote and in some ways that what is keeping Russell out of trouble for the time being.

Jason, whilst maybe not coming across as the most enigmatic off stage, has certainly pulled out the stops again this week but now has Chelsee and Harry improving and nipping at his heels. It’s getting tougher at the top. Quite right too.

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

 

 

 

 

Strictly Week 4 – Time to Step Up

Strictly Come Dancing Week 4 Summary

After last week’s huge spread of marks as the dancers took on their Broadway theme, who would raise their game this week and who looks set for an early departure? Here’s how we saw it:

Jason & Kristina (6, 7, 7, 7, 27) : Dancing first this week with with a dynamic and charismatic Paso Doble. There were noticeable efforts for shaping and posture but there were more things to improve here than some of Jason’s recent board-topping dances. We didn’t study the buttocks as closely as Len (!) but agreed with him 100% that some technique was missing. Appels were too high and there was too much stiffness in Jason’s legs and core which didn’t help in developing and finishing the lines and shapes. Maybe this dance will prove to be Jason’s weak spot but doesn’t him look motivated? Perhaps not topping the board this week will do him yet more good.

Alex & James (4, 7, 7, 7, 25) : Dancing Rumba this week – the romantic story of two lovers, which James had been clearly working to try and coax out of reserved Alex. The dance was good, conservative, with some elements of Rumba technique missing (like pointing the toes and that crucial central body action), but overall we thoguht Alex should be pleased with how she coped. We didn’t think she was going to get as high up the board as last week and that turned out to be the case. Safe for another week though surely?

Rory & Erin (4, 7, 6, 7, 24) After the Quickstep success can Rory do Cha Cha justice? Well, the style of Rory’s performance this week was much different to the elegant, fast and light quickstep. In some ways did he play safe with the slightly camp approach patented by Russel. Maybe, but let’s not forget the degree fo difficulty with these faster Latin dances to do all the correct footwork, hip action, leg straightening, leading and keeping the timing all at the same time. Rory did well but is he this week’s grey man? Dan showed last week what a dangerous position that was to be in. Definitely not the worst though!

Audley & Natalie (6, 7, 6, 6, 25) Boxer doing a ballet? Amazing sight to see isn’t it and well done him for stepping so far out of his comfort zone! It was an elegant and surprisingly (again) light Foxtrot. As the most difficult ballroom dance it was definitely full of challenges with footwork, swing, sway and timing to master. Again it wasn’t perfect with several noticeable improvements still to develop but there is something likeable about him isn’t there? Surely he’s safe for another week with this?

Nancy & Anton (3, 5, 5, 5, 18) In Paso Doble the man is a matador and the lady… well we weren’t quite sure in this case. Usually the lady is the cape but this was soemthing slightly more violent! There was some improvement shown from previous weeks in shapes, attack and character, but we fear there is still a long way to go mainly with her approach to the dances and the competition before she can really show us what she can do. Her time must be getting shorter.

Lulu & Brendan (5, 6, 7, 7, 25) Samba, what a dance. It can even get Lulu excited and bouncy. Great job this time, it was clearly her dance – so enjoyed and enjoyable to watch. Not without mistakes and yes that time filler up and down the stairs, but best dance for her so far. So much fun! Must be safe this week.

Holly & Artem (7, 7, 8, 8, 30) Lovely opening to this Viennese Waltz. Len may say it was too long and that there was too much ‘faffing around’ at the end, but what a nice style to it and story telling! Holly became a princess for the evening keeping all that elegance in hold. We think that ballroom suits her more than Latin. Is it because it’s so different to other performances in her career? Who can tell? Safe as houses this week….

Chelsee & Pasha (9, 9, 9, 9, 36) Great Quickstep choreography – they clearly worked very hard on it and the result was great, fun and upbeat. It’s definitely a step up for Chelsee and her highest score so far. Not without technical things to work on but well done them! We think it will be popular with the public, too.

Harry & Aliona (8, 8, 10, 9, 35) A romantic, classical Waltz. Harry already proved he can dance Latin with last week’s Jive and now he’s showing his talent for ballroom as well. Strong contestant for the final, starting to tick more and more boxes: footwork, timing, hold, character, shaping, etc. Safe as…. Fort Knox?

Anita & Robin (8, 8, 8, 8, 32) First time this year for the American Smooth, allowing open holds from time-to-time. Taken from Hollywood it should be glamorous, soft and smooth (as name suggests). Unfortunately Anita’s version was a little on the bumpy side and stiff in places. She redeemed herself with beautiful finishes of arms and head position. Overall it was a good performance from her btu did show a few weaknesses here and there that will need to be ironed out to really challenge in the later weeks; anything is achievable though. Safe for this week.

Robbie & Ola (5, 8, 7, 7, 27) Kicks and flicks promising (feet flapping around in the mist though!), but what about those other characteristic Jive steps? Flat footed and without jive action, but he tried very hard to dance with Ola once again. Possibly ballroom is Robbie’s forte in this competition but Jive was definitely fun to watch and he never seems to lack that all important performance confidence. Can’t see him on the bench just yet.

Russell & Flavia (5, 6, 6, 7, 24) Sweet dreams Russell! We’ve had two or three camp performances from the very likeable Russell, and now he invites us all into his bedroom with teddy for his latest dance! Definitely good, joyful and entertaining piece, but was that for the right reason? There is a certain charm about Russell and his interpretations of those well known dances. Flavia has come out with some astute choreography for these memorable performances so far – can she keep it up? Good luck and keep us entertained. Technically not strong but he’s not going home yet is he?

Vulnerable this week – Nancy has to be high on the list of “soon to exits”, possibly Rory this week too. Russell, although down toward the bottom, has made enough of an impression to continue we feel.

Scorching – Chelsee really stepped up didn’t she; is that a sign of things to come? Jason you have to feel had an off week and is surely tipped to be stronger again next week. Then Holly and Harry. Strictly week 4 – it looks like its getting very competitive at the top; great!

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

Strictly End Game for ex-tennis star Dan.

Perhaps it was not such a shock tonight as Edwina’s untimely departure was last week that Dan exited the show thanks to a third from bottom score from the judges and a lack of support from the public.

We wondered whether Dan’s impression with his dancing was going to be enough, as he appeared in the dangerous role of the “grey” man; not really creating a very memorable appearance this week. So it seemed that this was to be his undoing. There were not so capable dancers who in the end finished above him and yet they got through, rightly or wrongly.

Maybe the bigger shock was that Nancy, who had been sprung from the lower positions by the public last week, had not been saved so spectacularly this week. If that trend continues then surely her time is numbered unless suddenly she starts to produce some better dancing, and creates a better impression.

One thing that did happen this week – everyone stepped up their performances and for us this starts to make the show more enjoyable. Unlike whatever that singing program on the other station can yield, Strictly is a real progression from very little dance experience (sometimes none) to show pieces of dance worthy of our TV licences. We really enjoy the show as the dancers become more capable and we see less distractions on the technical side. There are signs already for a strong run of entertaining pieces from Strictly and we look forward to them.

Whatever the standard though, the cast of Footloose really took the stage by storm this evening and stole the show (from the likes of all the other pro dancers and Susan Boyle!) with a high energy number that made us think we have to go and see their show! Cinema – yes, we know it’s all over the screens at the moment but there’s something special about that live performance that might make us find some time…. if we can find some!

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

Strictly Week 3 – Dancing Broadway Style!

After Edwina’s graceful exit last week, Strictly took a trip to Broadway this week and started a fresh chapter but how did they cope under those Broadway lights…

Holly & Artem (Scored 7, 8, 7, 8, 30) : Opening the show promising to sell her performance a little more than the two previous dances, and entering locked in a cage, their Tango started with artistry and drama. She dealt with the dress getting hooked up well but did it throw her off? Some of that fire from the opening seemed to diminish a little but it was another strong performance from her with elements of International and Argentine Tango. Technically, not extremely strong, but there was more character this week, resembling Chicago and Fosse – Broadway? Oh Yes!

Dan & Katya (Scored 5, 7, 6, 6, 24) : Dancing the Viennese Waltz we were looking for improvement over the previous two performances but it was of a similar (not bad mind you) standard. Somehow this lacked some razzle dazzle (following the first number) and refinement to make it resound of Broadway but it wasn’t bad with some traditional elements. Footwork wasn’t that strong and the frame wasn’t held throughout. The judges seemed to respond in similar luke warm manner. He’s got to show more improvement and some finesse now and seems like he’s in that dangerous “grey-man” territory where his performances just don’t stand out (compare with Audley).

Anita & Robin (Scored 6, 7, 7, 7, 27) : Dancing the Jive, which looked a fun and vibrant routine, there was plenty of playful and joyful expression but some obvious weaknesses too – those knees weren’t pumping away too well, the feet rarely pointed but let’s face it; this is their first few weeks and for a fast dance it wasn’t that bad. Technically she does need to work but bags of character. Safe? Well, with her characterful performances, we think so for the moment.

Alex & James (Scored 8, 8, 8, 8, 32) : Danced with real sincerity (to “Midnight”) there was something more about this performance than Dan’s but still so conservative – the steps were tiny which really stopped much swing in this dance. Tricky song but something wonderfully simple about it. Hat’s off to James for some intelligent choreography there. We’re not sure she’s the most improved as some of the judges claimed but the overall performance was certainly stronger.

Rory & Erin (Scored 7, 8, 8, 8, 31) : Dancing the Quickstep in the hands of a good ballroom lady, and bringing with him an Astaire look, he gave maybe his best performance so far. Some improvements to that ballroom posture had been worked in but his bottom still stuck out in places and the hold and poise needs further refinement. That aside, this was much better and he carried off the routine well with some style too. Well done Rory!

Lulu & Brendan (Scored 5, 7, 7, 7, 26) : Lulu hadn’t had an easy run so far so we’d been hoping it would be stronger. Her emotional video intro didn’t give us much hope for their Rumba but this should be Brendan’s forte shouldn’t it? Well, she still looked a little stick-legged in places giving the odd awkward moment and there was uncertainty in hands now and again, but it was commendable and convincing in places (danced to the wonderful Music of the Night). Controversy arrived with the illegal lift but what could you say – the rules say no, and for well thought out reason too (think about where it would lead), but naughty Brendan couldn’t resist it, could he? With her popularity you’d expect her to be safe for a while yet.

Nancy & Anton (Scored 4, 5, 5, 6, 20)  : After last week’s tension with Anton, had they really much chance of pulling it all together again? Their intro video showed yet more fire in the belly but Anton was getting tough wasn’t he?! Their Tango played to Anton’s strength and you would have thought to her Italian passion, but no. She seemed like she didn’t care much for each movement and her head poise was a bit bland. There was some character and Anton was doing his best to carry the both of them. It was sadly lacking for us, maybe slightly better than last week but perhaps just because she was in hold more. With her public popularity though, it seems she doesn’t need to do much more anyway! Come on Nancy, pull the plugs out and knuckle down with Anton! We can’t help but think her time is running short and she doesn’t seem to be coming across so well on telly; will the public keep her in again?

Audley & Natalie (Scored 5, 6, 6, 7, 24) : We feared for him in the Quickstep where those feet and ankle rotations are so important. Well, actually there was some footwork! There was his usual sort of rhythm in the body but a little out of timing here and there. His hold flopped a little now and again but he is working hard. Those feet – well, they’re not letting him down and he is working hard it seems. Keep it up Audley, who has lost a stone already! He comes across so well on the TV. Bottom two last week which we felt was harsh so anything could happen again this week.

Robbie & Ola (Scored 7, 7, 8, 8, 30) : Abba would be proud of the pony-tails all-round wouldn’t they. His Tango impressed more than his other dances so far. We felt the performance was strong and there was plenty of energy. Some refinements in posture, poise and movement will get him really dancing underneath all that too but he’s got to be safe for another week hasn’t he? Well done Robbie.

Russel & Flavia (Scored 6, 7, 7, 8, 28) : Right, our worry here is how can they keep surviving on camp-ish numbers to get them through with fun and vibrance each week? When will the week come when he is exposed to refinement and sophistication? Enter the foxtrot…. and the surprises! He’s not too bad is he! Flavia has worked incredibly hard with him and full credit to her for an amazing job, and to Russel for stepping up, again. Foxtrot did not defeat him and he showed footwork, an early hold, and the start of refinement from him too. Don’t get us wrong, it wasn’t flawless, but he’s in for longer isn’t he. What can he do? How far could he get? Come on Flavia, come on Russel….

Jason & Kristina (Scored 9, 9, 9, 9, 36) : Maybe their problem is that expectations are now quite high so how could they achieve anything like equal to last Saturday’s board-topping scores? Well, they could light up the floor all on their own couldn’t they – and so they did. A few footwork issues and a claw-like left hand didn’t let him down. A Tango of entertainment, fire and passion, well rehearsed and convincingly performed. They’re in it to win it – who will challenge them? With these scores there’s no-one close yet.

Chelsee & Pasha (Scored 6, 8, 8, 8, 30) : A Cha Cha Cha with great energy and vibrance (that’s something we’ve seen every dance so far from her) but there were highs and lows for us. Sometimes she seemed a real firecracker and used her feet and legs better, other times they’d gone to sleep again. New Yorks, Cuban Breaks, Fans, Alemanas – it was all there in content. Can she get some more core and leg strength for her next Latin outing? That will be key to whether she can challenge towards the later weeks.

Harry & Aliona (Scored 8, 8, 9, 8, 33) : Jive with his shirt off, surely the public vote won’t be lacking! It was a wonderful showpiece for Grease, and wonderfully in character but lacking in Jive content for us. The little Jive he did wasn’t bad though, which is why we raise it – the dancing isn’t his weakness so why not show some more. Flicks, kicks, basic actions – all not too bad and some feet finished too! Hooray! Overall, a good performance and brought him right into the competition fore but more dancing content please!!

So that’s it for another week. Jason top again, Harry chasing hard, but perhaps Dan, Audley and Nancy in likely trouble again (if the public doesn’t save Nancy again). We’ll find out tomorrow.

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

Strictly Shock as Edwina exits first.

Strictly Come Dancing 2011 : Edwina Curry is the first to exit

There was some degree of surprise over the weekend as Edwina Curry became the first to be voted off Strictly with partner Vincent Simone following a disappointing public vote for them.

Strictly Come Dancing – the public vote kicks out

Nancy and Anton had been left trailing the leader board with a result of 2 to their name. Edwina was actually one place above with 3 points but it was Audley with 5 points that also suffered the indignity of being in the bottom 2 after the public vote.

Unwrapping the Public Vote

What can we deduce from the public vote? Well it’s a closely guarded secret with no data given to back it all up, but what we can say is that Nancy received more votes than Audley and Edwina in order to lift her and Anton from the bottom with the combined score. Note only that, Nancy must have received more than 3 points difference, let’s say a minimum of 4 in order for Audley to be ranked lower than her overall.

However, if Audley finished bottom in the public vote, he would have been awarded two points. It total this makes seven. With Nancy on two from the judges, she would therefore have to have scored six or more from the public to keep her out of the bottom two. Now that was a surprise for us as we felt she might be on her way. This may well keep her safe for at least another couple of weeks regardless of how the fireworks evolve with her and Anton.

The summary of the public vote is therefore Nancy (or is it Anton?) carries greater weight with the public vote than both Audley and Edwina (possibly even Lulu as well although Lulu might well have achieved a very high public score that we have no information on yet). With Edwina gone, Audley is left looking vulnerable because even if he finishes well above Nancy again, he’s vulnerable with the public vote.

It will be interesting to see how the weeks unfold. Clearly there are some early favourites, and those already under pressure too. We didn’t feel Vincent and Edwina had clicked and their dancing and choreography weren’t making a good impression although we felt they would be safe for another week.

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

Strictly Week 2 – Classey Dance or in need of Dance Classes?

Strictly Come Dancing – Week Two

Strictly entered the Saturday night TV screen once again and after a mixture of outings for the celebrities last weekend, how did they fare this week? Well, here are our thoughts before the public vote tomorrow night. Of course the public vote is that so little known element so far that everything could look so very different once popularity is thrown into the pot.

Foxtrot & Salsa, Week 2 : How did they do?

Here are our thoughts on the couples and how they danced tonight:

Chelsee & Pasha (Scored 7, 7, 8, 7, 29) : Pasha seemed to have some frustrations with Chelsee’s concentration, or lack of, during their rehearsals but would this show in their dancing. Dancing the Salsa, with some high risk lifts, it was an energetic performance but there was something slightly “frantic Disco” rather than authentic Salsa, possibly with a Cha Cha feel. There was yet another sign of that slightly frenzied (is it nerves?) look, but perhaps when she relaxes into future performances this will mellow out in the right way. Not a bad second outing though.

Edwina & Vincent (Scored 4, 5, 5, 5, 19) : Was this another feather in the cap (actually it was a fascinator wasn’t it?)?? After an intro video that we just couldn’t take seriously (what did they mean?), we had too much intro to the dance as well and again from Vincent saw a disappointing amount of dance content. Yes, it was a little show piece but to only have a dozen Foxtrot variations danced and then the quality of the dance was below par, with poor posture throughout, it was disappointing. Surely Vincent has not got the best of Edwina, or maybe the hours aren’t there for them to maximise what they can do. They must be at risk!

Audley & Natalie (Scored 5, 6, 6, 6, 23) : Our biggest surprise from last week, although not the best performer, stated firmly he would be aiming for improvement. Those sized 17 feet took to the floor once again and got straight on with it and showed a rhythm. In honesty we were scared of how he might rise to the challenge of the Salsa, but once again, not technically amazing, he really did make you happy to watch him, very enjoyable. Clever choreography, a little disco-esque again but great fun. Needs more dance from the body centre and foot action. Surely he isn’t going home yet? We don’t think so but now more improvement please.

Alex & James (Scored 6, 8, 7, 8, 29) : Struggling with her rights and lefts, brought the most brutal teaching techniques out from James. It was a high profile, exposed start for her which she seemed to tackle confidently and then in hold it was a step up from what we had seen with Edwina. Improvements in hold, core strength and those long legs still to come but it was a good start. Good performance for her and must have assured her safety for a little while.

Dan & Katya (Scored 4, 6, 6, 5, 21) : Still we were hoping Dan’s tennis feet might kick in for his salsa, but somehow he seemed stiffer in the body than Audley and didn’t wow us, even with the front flip! He did his best we felt but sometimes transitions lacked flow and was he being out-danced by Katya. We weren’t convinced here and were expecting a little more. He probably doesn’t feel safe but he’s not at the back just yet and there is time for him to step it up.

Lulu & Brendan (Scored 5, 6, 7, 7, 25) : With a bit of a reality check for the first week’s dance, could Lulu give a mistake-free performance this week? Well, it was better, not mistake free, but mostly held together and gave us a chance to see them in full swing. It wasn’t technically strong and needs some stronger ankles, better poise and shape, also some strange choreography in places (Viennese crosses!) but a big improvement over last week was a relief for us. Not the best dance but better. Safe for another week, maybe, and surely not going to be struggling with popularity votes.

Holly & Artem (Scored 7, 7, 8, 8, 30) : Another Latin dance with her Salsa but could she follow up the strong start to the series she made last weekend? She struggled to hold timing a few times and was slightly held back in places. Another good performance for the early weeks but we’d like something from her less inhibited, danced more strongly to really work those legs and body hard. You’ve got to think she’s capable of going a long way but she’s got to start taking to the lid off. Shame we didn’t get to see her ballroom over the two weeks though.

Rory & Erin (Scored 4, 6, 6, 6, 22) : Latin was our worry with this couple. Could they find some fire, body rhythm and step into the Latino role? It was maybe better than we thought, but he gave a solid, if not spectacular performance. It was energetic but quite heavy footed and a little awkward at times. For us, he didn’t move past Audley in this dance and it seems the judges just about agreed. Safe? Ballroom, yes, Latin, not yet!

Robbie & Ola (Scored 7, 8, 7, 7, 29) : A tough first week for him, but how would he react? Come and fighting or an early exit? A stylish opening to their foxtrot showed us he’s not finished yet. A great improvement over last week and very stylishly done. Technically not flawless, especially in the feet but showed signs of being light in the feet, with good foot speed, and a hold emerging (Tweak the frame, head and poise for him Ola!). So happy to see them doing better. Maybe this saved him from an early exit. Big improvement.

Anita & Robin (Scored 7, 7, 7, 7, 28) : A high scoring first week from them, but could they replicate it with their Latin, surely it wouldn’t be to her taste as much? It wasn’t dance disaster, and with humorous elements to the choreography we felt she got away with it. But the legs weren’t the strongest, and sometimes she looked quite wobbly, with Artem getting hold of her firmly at least once. She did herself proud but has more work to do with her Latin than ballroom we feel – can Robin keep her in longer? If they can keep some light-hearted approach to their Latin maybe they can keep getting a light let off as this week with the judges.

Jason & Kristina (Scored 8, 8, 9, 8, 33) : Last weeks winner with the judges and clearly one to watch out for. Kristina sees an opportunity for that elusive win, and Jason seems highly motivated, as usual ready to work incredibly hard. Another stylish opening showed us maybe foxtrot wasn’t going be his weakness. He wasn’t moving much on the slow, although maybe wasn’t encouraged to, and his head poise wasn’t great, also dancing slightly high in places, but it was a good performance in this most difficult of dances and what a score (although where does that leave the judges to go in the final weeks?).

Nancy & Anton (Scored 3, 5, 2, 4, 14) : We were pleased to see them again as we wanted to finally see what they’re capable of given the costume disaster of last week. It wasn’t the strongest – timing issues all over the place put her out of sync with Anton who had to fight her all the way, legs not quite doing the business and there were several awkward moments. Very funny summary from Bruno too, “She’d had two gallons.” They needed a convincing performance but this wasn’t it and she had a bad attitude with Anton. Surely they must be at risk. Will they be having an early exit; we think they might.

Harry & Aliona (Scored 6, 6, 8, 7, 27) : Flew the flag well for younger celebrities in week one, so we were keen to see if he could show a mature foxtrot performance. He held a frame and showed he isn’t just going to be a Latin boy but it was a little stiff here and there, with some hunched posture. There’s potential and for week two this wasn’t bad but he hasn’t blown us out of the water yet. He could be in with a shout if he shows a good rate of improvement and Aliona doesn’t dominate him. Maybe one to watch.

Russel & Flavia (Scored 6, 6, 6, 7, 25) : Quite a popular performance in the first week and in some ways similar to Salsa so surely their week two dance should be similar? Hmm. Dancing Queen? Maybe not quite but he can move can’t he? In places not pretty, and are they relying on every performance being entertainingly camp? Somebody sort out the feather bower training too! Technically not the best, but entertaining again. We’re pleased to see him throwing himself into it unreservedly but hope he can show some refined performances especially in the ballroom too. He’s surely going to be around for the entertainment factor for a few more weeks at least we feel.

Strictly Public Voting

So now it’s the public vote and we all know this can change things significantly. Those at risk? Well, maybe it would be a blessing for Anton if he and Nancy were to leave before fireworks get any worse! The early star awards belong to Jason, Holly and maybe Harry. perhaps the biggest surprise for us has been Audley though who has consistently come across well. It’s early days. Tomorrow night we find out who’s going first though.

For those near the radio tomorrow, or have the Internet handy, tune in to the Graham Rogers show on BBC Wiltshire around 11.45am and hear us discuss tonight’s show in full.

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

Strictly Sabotage? Surely not…

We first got wind that something was stirring behond the scenes of Strictly yesterday and today it is being reported in the media too. Apparently the BBC are investigating just what did happen to Nancy’s dress during that fated dance on Saturday.

Reports are a little mixed but the essence of each discuss Nancy’s dress being found on the costume rail both wet and ripped shortly before they were due to dance in the evening. The repairs were made for the live show and we all know what happened next.

Sabotage? Surely not. We just can’t believe anything happened deliberately but its surely been enough for the media to start to get their teeth into. Maybe that’s just part of showbiz and PR sometimes. The fact remains, we didn’t see enough of Nancy dancing her best to judge the couples potential so far so fingers crossed for a good weekend for them both.

Best wishes,

James & Joanna

Strictly Come Dancing – first week

Ballroom Dancing hits the TV screens once again

So Strictly is underway and all of the celebrities and their professional ballroom dancing partners have danced for the first time. We thought we’d just make a few notes on the first dances for the couples and how they stand after the first show so here goes….

(In order of how they appeared on the show, starting with Friday night, then Saturday).

Artem & Holly (Scored 28, 6, 7, 8, 7) : One of our favourites from the outset and no surprise they did well. Holly showed she had potential with flares of body speed, great flexibility and some charisma to boot. There was some core stiffness and she’ll clearly have to work her legs harder but after three weeks, she’s well on her way. Surely Artem must be thinking about the double?

Dan & Katya (Scored 24, 4, 7, 7, 6) : These two are clearly going to have to work hard to overcome the big height difference in the ballroom especially. Their waltz wasn’t bad but it was a little stiff and mechanical despite having some correct footwork now and again. We wondered whether he would be light on his feet but this was a bit inconclusive.

Brendan & Lulu (Scored  17, 2, 5, 5, 5) : This perhaps wasn’t the most solid Cha Cha start that Brendan might have hoped for. There was never much doubt that Lulu would be at home on the live arena but she’s got her work cut out keeping with some of the others now. Tonight it was messy in places, ridden with mistakes and as one of the judges said, she just seemed to get a bit over excited. Can Brendan get her back on track – we’re not convinced at the moment.

Audley & Natalie (Scored 20, 3, 5, 6, 6) : For those who had seen Audley and his size 17 feet battle his way in the boxing ring, you’d surely got to be impressed with how he adapted himself rather well to the ballroom. We didn’t expect him to adapt this well and were full of admiration. Technically it was week – with very little foot work and often quite flat-footed (don’t mention the hands!) but there was something almost elegant starting to appear. They mentioned they’d had just 3 days of rehearsal, not three weeks so if they can knuckle down, maybe Audley is capable of stepping up his game plan here. Interesting.

Robbie & Ola (Scored 19, 2, 6, 6, 5) : Very mixed feelings over this Cha Cha performance. It was full of drama and he’d clearly come on to the floor to put effort into the act but there was little dance content from him. Ola, as usual, was dancing away (on her birthday!) even when Robbie’s statue had apparently replaced him for a few bars (of some tricky Swingy music, unlike proper Cha Cha music). He’s got to get dancing more so we hope little Ola works him harder to see what level he can achieve.

Anita & Robin (Scored 28, 7, 7, 7, 7) : You might remember from our previous Strictly blog that we just hoped Anita had a great time and that was certainly achieved – she seemed to be in her element. Their waltz was respectable and with great characteristic waltz figures, they hadn’t played it too safe in week one. Plenty to work on here though – heel turns, gapping, softness, poise all to develop. Good first week score though so fingers crossed they work hard and keep it going.

Harry & Aliona (Scored 28, 6, 7, 8, 7) : A good score for their Cha Cha which started off the Saturday night show. This has surely got potential with so many things to work on yet still producing a solid first dance. There were all kinds of technical problems – footwork, hunched poise, a stiff middle etc but he used his arms more cleanly than some fo the others and shows promise. There were some classic Cha figures too – tops, hip twists, all good.

Rory & Erin (Scored 27,6, 7, 7, 7) : Another good score for their waltz took this couple up in our estimations. We thought this couple could go either way but for their ballroom things look strong and still so much to work on – poor posture, over deliberate footwork that was never actually used, sticking his bottom out – but, hey, there was something likable about the dancing and we hope they get in top of the refinements soon. Let’s see what their Latin is like before we make a judgement.

Alex & James (Scored 22, 4, 6, 6, 6) : They looked like they were enjoying their Cha Cha and we felt they gave it some good effort. But, with those legs she’s going to have to work them harder as they seemed to have only 2 settings – stiff or bent – without any subtlety and strength in between. She looked uncomfortable after Craig’s comments and maybe that’s why James sought to defend her so much. Hope she gets a broader back to it all as criticism is surely in abundance when you put yourself up for Strictly. Not bad for a first dance but we expected a bit more. Keep an eye on them.

Chelsee & Pasha (Scored 27, 7, 6, 7, 7) : The youngster did get a little carried away with it all mid-way through a respectable waltz we felt. She’s spinning so high as well, without much compression but showed some great promise with head and arm extensions and some shaping, not really expected for the first week. One to watch, but only if the nerves are in check.

Edwina & Vincent (Scored 17,2, 5, 5, 5) : Again this was pretty Swinging music for a good straight Cha Cha but let’s not make excuses. Whilst the performance was fun and there was some character coming out which we thought may not happen from the former MP, it was technically weak with not the best choreography, one New York section being repeated too. They’re going to have to step up their game to stay in a good while this season we feel. Is Vincent motivated – perhaps he doesn’t need to go against the grain? We think they should put in the time and enjoy themselves but hopes not hugely high.

Nancy & Anton (Scored 12, 1, 4, 3, 4) : Oh dear, a waltz that never really got going. The little glimse we saw after the wardrobe malfunction wasn’t great but let’s not judge them yet. Apparently everything was good for them in rehearsals so we keep quiet and let them perform properly first before we say too much.

Jason & Kristina (Scored 32, 8, 8, 8, 8) : Great start with their Cha Cha, and deservedly the highest score of the first week. Great performer (was that ever in any doubt),who oddly was not overpowered by Kristina dancing full throttle too. He seemed to have technique in amongst the performance too. He came bounding off the stage which so much positivity and enthusiasm maybe, just maybe, he is the one to watch in the early stages and he was also our pick of the bunch from week one.

So that’s it for now… Cha Cha and Waltz started it all off. We’re not certain but think it’s Foxtrot and Salsa next week, both dances able to show us some more insight into who the strong early candidates seem to be.

Don’t forget, if you want to learn some of the dances from Strictly, then come to our classes and lessons. You can find out more about them on our website here.

Keep dancing!

Best wishes,

James & Joanna