14 weeks later, we find ourselves in Blackpool, home of ballroom dancing, with three worthy finalist couples suited, booted and ready for battle royal on the dance floor. but who would prevail? Would Harry manage to keep his nose in front or would the glints we had often seen from Jason and Chelsee spoil his Blackpool illuminations?
On with the show.
Harry & Aliona (Scored 10, 10, 10, 10, 40) : Opening the show with their highest scoring dance of the series, their quickstep, we were (and Harry was!) off to a great start with an improved second run at this dance. He’s turned out a really competent dancer over the 14 weeks and maybe this was his best so far, a lovely varied routine with some flashy bits, basic steps, well danced. A well deserved perfect 40 for Harry for this one and puts the others under pressure to perform at their very best.
Showdance (Scored 9, 9, 10, 9, 37) : Into the second half of the 3 couple part of the show where showdance gives the opportunity for lifts, freedom and that extra creativity. being a Rock and Roll number, it was lively, energetic and a real crowd pleaser full of variety. There were a couple of very minor bloopers, and we felt it needed a stronger ending of them both together rather than Harry on the drums. Then the scores rolled in and suddenly was this a little chink in the armour that the others might be able to steal the show with?
Jason & Kristina (Scored 9, 10, 10, 9, 38) : We were impressed how Jason pulled his best dance out of the bag with his last of the semi-final and maybe that was the one that really got him here. Now he had to be Mr Consistent with that level to take the dancing fight to Harry. They took to the floor with their Tango and you could see the determination to entertain and perform from both of them (How apt a music choice, “I will survive!”). It wasn’t flawless and the hold wasn’t as good as Harry’s throughout, with a few minor postural (posterior!) distractions, but full of vibrancy and fun. Perhaps not a performance to win but certainly full of entertainment factor for that all important public vote.
Showdance (Scored 10, 10, 10, 10, 40) : Following Harry’s showdance, we felt if Jason (and Chelsee) could really pull the stops out now it could level the competition again. Once again, out he roared with a showdance based on Quickstep, full of that big stage performance factor we’ve become used to from him. no major bloopers here, great variety in the show too with some nippy costume rip-offs that seemed to add some different looks and interest. It looked more than Harry’s showdance with it’s variety and equalled with energy. Then came the scores, and Jason had hauled himself right back into the mix. But wait, it’s not about the judges this week, but the public, had he won the public appeal?
Chelsee & Pasha (Scored 9, 10, 10, 10, 39) : Shrek stormed onto the Balckpool Tower floor as Chelsee showed us her Jive once again. We felt some deja vous from Jason’s dance as we saw Chelsee spring to life, full of energy and entertainment, but the odd very minor technical distraction for us – occasionally looking a little flatter in the feet, and calling for a little more fuller Jive action from the legs and body. She should be so proud though of what she has achieved. From the outset we wondered how the youngest pairing would handle the pressure but her they are in the final, entertaining the nation. After the three had danced their first dance, Harry already had a nose in front, something Jason and Chelsee would find tricky to overcome without pulling out their very best dancing in the showdances.
Showdance (Scored 9, 9, 9, 9, 36) : After Harry’s showdance had possibly left him open to a good challenge, then Jason bringing out a 40 for his, Chelsee had to step up for this one. It was a shaky, nervy looking opening, until she got going with Pasha into a rip-roaring lift-fest! She was, for us, starting to tire a little towards the latter half of this extremely high energy routine, or maybe it was slightly loss of focus. Great music (“For one night only”) but there was more potential here to be squeezed out and yet it didn’t quite reach that dizzy level. And the scores were in…. 36, and surely she hadn’t made enough of an impression over over Harry?
After the first part of the show, Jason leads with the judges on 78, Harry on 77 and Chelsee behind on 75, but that doesn’t mean anything. How would the public vote reveal itself. We had maybe seen signs that the public hadn’t warmed to Jason with previous votes but for us he’s neck and neck with Harry at this stage. The only thing we had noticed is that all important connection between the dance and emotional expression – this might sound strange but possibly with Jason’s big stage experience he was used to over expressing whereas Harry seemed more genuine, sometimes more introvert in his approach and this made a difference to the natural look of the dancers. An hour to go…..
…..and then they’re back! Phone lines not close, but frozen – was this because of the additional cold tonight we wondered?
The first result was in…. Jason out!! The public had probably removed the last remaining threat to Harry lifting the title this year. What could Chelsee do now, with two dances already in the shadows? Phone lines already un-frozen. Come on Chelsee, give it your all!
Harry & Aliona (Scored 9, 10, 10, 10, 39) : Dancing their American Smooth, they were now beginning to have a confident look about them. This partnership had gelled several weeks back and he became our “nose in front” and never really overtaken since. Ha had a few things to work on still here, with very splayed hands and still looking rightwards in the right turns, but this was a lovely dance, nicely choreographed and he showed a great feel and right emotion for the dance too. Then the scores, and another strong vote form the judges, not that it counted in the total, although it was bound to prove influential.
Second Dance (Scored 10, 10, 10, 10, 40) : With their Tango, they were clearly focused and this showed through the dance. This was nicely done, with a good mix of traditional and showey elements; this couple really had started to have a good luck together. Stronger expression Len said, and yes, we agreed, it did seem stronger. Scores in… 40, and you could sense the relief after all that hard work. With this, surely he’d now sealed the title? But, remember last week, Jason nipping through with that last dance of the night making such a strong impression? Could Chelsee do the same?
Chelsee & Pasha (Scored 9, 10, 10, 10, 39) : Dancing the Rumba, this now had to be very good. How did we see it, well another lovely dance, with a nice story and cleanly danced. For us she still lacked that middle body action to really get into the movements more but in 14 weeks, phewph! Well done Chelsee, and great upper body presentation here. Scores were in… great score but she really needed one more point to make a bigger impression than Harry here we felt. At this stage, we had Harry still ahead.
Second dance (Scored 9, 10, 10, 10, 39) : Finishing this fabulous series with a quickstep, Chelsee has the humor of being the last to grace the floor. Nice routine, with a little story telling too, in general nicely danced. She had a good few moments when her feet weren’t closed elegantly when they should have been, and the hold lost some poise in the tricky steps, but she’s done such a great job with this enormous dancing challenge. And the scores… 39, a great score but for us this left her behind Prince Harry.
So after the two sets of two dances, the judges had Harry on 79 and Chelsee on 78, not accounting for the other earlier dances. We were all (and there were two other experienced dancers with us) of the view that Harry was about to lift the trophy and give Aliona her first Strictly win too. Chelsee had raised her game and done extremely well but it wasn’t enough to challenge.
And then the big result of the year…. and Harry had done it! Well done, a huge congratulations for all the hard work. A terrific final, close at times, but this was a worthy winner and one you could see coming from those early weeks. You had to feel for Jason and Chelsee but what a show they made of it, and a great contribution to a fantastic series. Roll on next year, although a bit of a rest for some in between might be nice!
Our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,
James & Joanna