Strictly Come Dancing – Week 8, Getting serious now!

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 8, Getting serious now!

After Richard and Erin’s departure from Wembley last week, who would be the next to fall victim to the dreaded dance off and who would step up and challenge Denise?

Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone (9, 9, 9, 9, Total 36)
Dancing the Salsa,this was another good, solid performance from her, looking increasingly confident too. It’s always good to see a bit of solo dancing from the celebrities to give a really clear idea of how they are “without influence” from their pro partners, and she coped well with a flamboyant opening. Sometimes she needs to use the middle body more, at the moment there is still some stiffness there, but overall not a bad dance. Good score for a very solid performance, well done Dani!

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (8, 9, 8, 9, Total 34)
Kimberley’s Tango showed some good qualities tonight – some of that characteristic staccato action, and really showed some feel for the dance. There was much to work on, with her left hand splayed, the head often too much rightwards and forwards, not following the curve of her back, and the footwork week, but this all was secondary to finding and setting the right mood with the dance.

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (4, 6,6, 5, Total 21)
Oh, Victoria! After her Paso from last week left us hoping for more (i.e. better!) this week, her salsa just didn’t tick the right boxes. There was plenty of salsa variations and arm stylings but this was too stiff and sometimes even looked a little awkward. She has to find a way of keeping movement through that strong body and not stiffening up. This wasn’t bad but for week 8, we need more dancing in that highly toned body of hers! Will she be on her bike soon? Maybe….

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (6, 7, 7, 7, Total 27)
For a few weeks now we’d been writing of an air of reservation in the dances from Louis and the same theme continued tonight with his Paso Doble. Unfortunately the Paso, of all the dances, is the last one to be reserved about, and should be overflowing with passion, strength, shaping and character. Louis has the ability with the shaping and movement but this one needed more from him – fuller shapes, stronger shapes, faster shapes and it needed to show through his facial expression too. He can do better, but getting the acting in to the dance is not easy for him and will need work.

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (7, 6, 7, 7, Total 27)
Our happy dancer needed to be passionate and seductive with her Rumba tonight and whilst she did a good job with her steps, this was another dance that didn’t really light up fully. The middle body action was missing greatly here to really show more movement and continuity of movement through the slow parts of the rhythm. Our fear for Lisa is that whilst she brings so much energy and personality to the floor, when there needs to be more sophistication in the character, that is her weakness. Come on Lisa!

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (6, 7, 7, 6, Total 26)
Michael had to take on the Argentine Tango tonight, quite a change from the high-kicking, show-closing spectacle of his outing last week. This dance, more than any other, should show the reactions of the lady to the leads of the man. Whilst Michael went through his choreography quite well, for us, it didn’t show that all important lead-follow look of the dance. It looks completely different if you watch two individual dancers side by side, compared to a dancer giving an action that causes a reaction in another, and this wasn’t close enough. OK, so in the space of a week he has to learn the dance and maybe it’s asking too much to learn a lead for all of that too but it needed at least some. Not bad, but a bit more needed to pull this dance off better.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (9, 9, 9, 9, Total 36)
Nicky had been improving over the last few weeks so how would he get on with a characterful dance, the Charleston? Well, actually excellent! This seemed to suit Nicky even though he had a slightly stomping style once again. This was fun-packed, classic choreography and full of character, cleanly danced. Possibly the most improved overall performance this week. Well done Nicky!

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (9, 9, 9, 10, Total 37)
The problem is now we expect Denise to steal the show. No, let’s at least try to be neutral as we look at her American Smooth. This was a very classy looking dance, flowing nicely from one variation to the next, and some well executed lifts. Maybe the choreography didn’t quite absorb us enough but overall, you have to say she’s still the one to beat and has now a better grip of the dancers body than any of the others.

After a bit of a come down from the dizzy heights of Wembley, who came down to earth with a bump, and who raised their game? Well, at the top there’s no surprise with Denise on 37, but Nicky is up there for the first time too, with Dani, & Kimberley at the top. That left Victoria and Michael trailing at the bottom.

Strictly Come Dancing – Wembley Week 7 for Dancing through the ages!

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 7, Wembley here we come!! Dancing through the ages!

Still recovering from Kimberley being in the dance off last week, and Fern exiting just as it looked like she might be getting going, what dramas would unfold in front of the huge Wembley audience tonight?

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (8, 8, 8, 8, Total 32)
Lisa continued to bring happiness and energy to the floor to open the show tonight with her samba. This was a vibrant and colourful opening to the show. There’s refinements needed in that all-important Samba technique but you had to feel she really gave this everything. She was clearly overwhelmed by the audience support too.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (6, 8, 8, 8, Total 30)
Nicky made a good step forward with his foxtrot last week. Dancing the Jive, that theme continued although some of the actions lacked a little sharpness. This was a good performance on such an enormous stage and he’s certainly continuing in the right direction. He does need some more improvements in the dancing now to raise the game once again. Craig’s not his biggest fan is he?!

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (9, 10, 10, 10, Total 39)
Denise had started to pull away from the other contenders for this year’s title. In some ways our aspirations for her each week are raised higher than most and we almost don’t expect her to rise to them, but she does. Dancing this Charleston, with an imaginative Egyptian character, she’d raised the bar again. There was so much hard work went into this dance – the choreography, the technique, the character and wow, how all those things came together on the big stage so well. For us, this was one of the best performances on Strictly ever and wonderful to watch. There were some minor things we noted but we’re not even going to mention them. Very, very well done Denise! She’s leaving the rest standing at the moment and almost looking uncatchable. What a score!

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (7, 8, 8, 7, Total 30)
Last week we noted an air of reservation about Louis which made his dance looked a little distant. This week dancing the American Smooth, this did continue to some extent. Maybe this is coming through the lack of expression – we need to see some facial expression of enjoyment. This was a dance of two halves, traditional quickstep first, then into a freestyle, or ‘tricks,’ section where clearly Louis has some exceptional gymnastic skills to bring to the floor. Was it nerves? Was it apprehension? Either way, that magic expression really needs to start happening now as it’s holding him back – talk to Lisa, Louis!!

Richard Arnold & Erin Boag (5, 6, 7, 6, Total 24)
After raising his game in the dance off last week, Richard certainly looked relieved to have made it Wembley  – BUT, this Salsa never really kicked off for us. He was putting some energy into it but the dance lacked a quality through the middle body and stronger feel through the core. He seemed slightly awkward and maybe out of his comfort zone afterwards. It was fun and laughable in places, but it just wasn’t strong enough underneath all that. Richard needs some improvements quick to avoid the exit soon. Difficult score to recover from in the face of the competition.

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (5, 6, 7, 6, Total 24)
Dancing the Paso Doble, Victoria entered form the heavens on her bicycle as Brendan stormed the floor with his cape like Batman chasing ET. This somehow didn’t capture the essence of a good Paso Doble, full of building dram and tension. In a way we can’t blame Victoria for this, but it certainly didn’t allow her to be seen in the best light. We’d like to see more of her dancing, real dancing with continuity and drama. The little we gleaned from this was perhaps of an improving Victoria. Roll on next week!

Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone (9, 9, 9, 9, Total 36)
Dancing the Quickstep, this was a very together and solid performance from her – we liked the run up the steps onto the central stage! There was good content here, plenty of famous quickstep variations, and hops, skips and tricks to go with it. She did well here. Now she needs some more shape through her body, especially to carry a larger hold on the bigger stage. Good score for a very solid performance, well done Dani!

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (8, 8, 9, 9, Total 34)
Kimberley had an unjustifiably tough week last week so we hope she just keeps her head down and keeps dancing well, and improving. Dancing the Samba, this was full of vibrancy and energy, just right for the big Wembley stage. Sometimes it was a little weaker through the body, and the movement came more from the shoulders and arms, rather than that happening as a reaction, but this was another very solid performance from Kimberley. She is a long way from the bottom two so we’re hoping she continues a good while longer. Good score for a Samba too!

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (9, 9, 9, 8, Total 35)
Michael managed to improve his Latin last week, keeping himself out of the dreaded dance off. Back to ballroom this week, for the big finish to the show as well. Dancing American Smooth to New York, New York, this was destined to be a strong number right from the outset. All he had to do was deliver a solid performance to this set, but he did go further and danced very well here. There was some good hard work to get the dance to this level and a fitting end to the show. Well done Michael.

So, after seven weeks, Denise, Dani, Michael & Kimberley take to the top, with Nicky, Louis, Richard, & Victoria bringing up the bottom. Wembley really tested the dancers and whilst everyone is progressing, there seems to be two halves to the group now, with Denise firmly on top of the pile for now. The voting last week showed that virtually no-one is safe so how will the public see it?

Strictly week 6 – everyone improving!

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 6, time for progress?

Now lacking it’s Bond-boy Colin after losing out in the dance off last week, how would the remaining celebrities step up for week 6 on the show. We felt it’s time to reveal some serious dance improvements all round so we sat eagerly awaiting their latest outing.

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (9, 9, 9, 9, Total 36)
Denise stepped up another level tonight with her Paso Doble, mind you she did have the help of not just one Latin dancer, but two, as Ian Waite stepped up to help with training. Denise showed more refinements in her dance and performance tonight. If she can do the same with some of the other dances, everyone else is in trouble! Looking like a contender for the final.

Richard Arnold & Erin Boag (7, 8, 7, 7, Total 29)
Richard experienced dance disaster last week after messing up his steps and seeming himself quickly to the dance off. Fortunately, he pulled himself together and danced his best when it mattered and got himself through. Dancing the Charleston this week, surely he couldn’t go too far wrong with this one? In fact, has anyone ever gone out to a Charleston? Hmm. Sure enough, whilst not technically a masterpiece, he showed a characterful performance, where some of the cheekiness even disguised the odd dancing lapse. Surely he’ll get through with this one, and his highest score so far to go with it!

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (6, 9, 9, 9, Total 33)
Louis was dancing the Waltz this week and showed some improvements to his hold, poise and movement throughout. It was not as full in the movements as we’d liked to have seen with an element of care or reservation but it’s all going the right way and he’s becoming strong with all the dance styles. Craig took issue with him, and the others maybe were more sympathetic because of it.

Fern Britton & Artem Chigvintsev (6, 7, 7, 7, Total 27)
Please, please Fern, unleash some of that inner dancer we’ve wanted for the last 4 weeks! Salsa, surely this dance could get her energized?! YES! At last!!! Fern came out of that shell, piled the energy in and actually performed something. It looked like she was enjoying herself too. Oh, so happy after all those weeks of waiting. If you’re going to dance, you might as well get out there and enjoy yourself; that’s what it’s all about and finally Fern has discovered that. Technically, still vulnerable, but so much brighter from her.

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (7, 7, 8, 8, Total 30)
Victoria was out of her comfort zone with the Samba last week, despite some spirited defense from Brendan. Dancing the quickstep, she was looking much happier to be dancing this week. There are still some improvements needed in posture and movement but this was much better than last week. Maybe she needs a step up soon but she’s doing just fine for the time being.

Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone (8, 8, 9, 9, Total 34)
Dancing the Tango, this was another performance from tonight showing the celebrities are developing and improving all the time. We did agree with Darcey saying sometimes it appeared to be the moody teenager rather than the mature lady but overall this was strong, showed some good body speed. Still some improvements available to her but going the right way. Well done Dani.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (7, 7, 8, 8, Total 30)
Dancing the foxtrot, with a very stylish mood from the outset, this was Nicky’s best dance of the show so far we felt. Yes, it does need more movement and control of his feet but it was a great effort for a lovely, showy dance. We enjoyed it, but there are still plenty of obvious improvements to be made here. This was a good step up from Nicky though, well done!

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (8, 8, 9, 9, Total 34)
Kimberley has been improving arguably faster than some of the others, particularly gaining confidence quickly. Dancing the Viennese Waltz, she continued her improving theme, and carried this into a refined, gentle performance for this dance. Yes, more posture, more control, you can keep learning forever, but she’s getting better all the time. A few wobbles in the tricky standing spins but they’re not danced by most just because they are tricky!

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (5, 7, 7, 7, Total 26)
Michael had made great strides in recent weeks dancing his ballroom, but for the same few weeks we were wondering how he would cope when his less favoured Latin got another outing. Dancing the Salsa, Michael had certainly improved from the last Latin outing – more movement in the hips and body. Ok, there was a bit of a blooper, and there is much more work to do, and it was a bit stiff, but it was much better, and amazing lifts he came out with in this dance. Latin still the weakness here, but so much better.

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (8, 8, 8, 8, Total 32)
Lisa never fails to bring a wonderful personality to the floor, with such great expression and positivity. Dancing the foxtrot this week, all those qualities continued, and she’d worked hard at that oh so tricky foxtrot footwork too. Like the others, still plenty of room for improvements, particularly maintaining a lovely posture and poise throughout the dance. This was a good dance from her and showed there is more than just personality in her dancing.

So, after six weeks, Denise, Dani & Kimberley take to the top, with Richard, Fern & Michael bringing up the bottom. Certainly tonight we saw the most improved week from almost everyone which is lovely to see. We were most happy to see Fern finally enjoying herself and getting more out of it, but how would the public rate the other performances. Denise still has her nose in front!

The Results!

A bit of a shocker tonight, in the bottom two we had Fern and Kimberley! We didn’t see that one coming, and with Kimberley so high up on the judges scoreboard too. It made the dance off a bit of an obvious outcome with Kimberley showing herself to be a very able and improving dancer. Fern had really raised her game this week, and she could have easily gone in previous weeks so in some ways we were pleased she’d had the opportunity of finding that much better level of enjoyment out of the dancing in this last week for her.

Wembley next week and you can’t help but feel there will be a few more shocks to come!

Keep Dancing!

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 5 fireworks

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 5, will there be fireworks?

After some incredible encounters with the make-up department last week, it was Syd, from the celebrities, who was confined to the Strictly Coffin. With the competition starting to hot up who would be the fire-cracker of week 5 and who would be in the damp squib?

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (8, 8, 8, 9, Total 33)
Kimberley had certainly started to gain in the confidence in the last few weeks, and dancing her salsa, the same theme continued. This dance was oozing confidence, despite the odd minor bloopster that didn’t phase her. She’s really improving and finding some additional poise and technique to bring each week too. In it for the long haul? We think so.

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (7, 7, 6, 7, Total 27)
After bringing so much fun and enthusiasm to the dance floor, Lisa had started to draw criticism for weaker technique. We were eager to see how she would react to this and whether she could respond well. Dancing the Tango, there were a few weaker areas with the technique, but there were certainly improvements compared to her last ballroom outing. She’d clearly worked to try and maintain her hold better, and didn’t break into the giggles! She never fails to bring everything she has to the floor. More refinements needed, yes, but this was better. She isn’t such a strong front runner any more though, is she?

Richard Arnold & Erin Boag (3, 5, 5, 4, Total 17)
Last week Richard showed us some improvements in the Paso, where Latin had looked his weak link for a while. Dancing the foxtrot, back in the comfort of the hold again, you’d have thought all would be well – but not quite! Half way through and all unraveled as the steps deserted him! It wasn’t bad to start with but this dance was dominated by a major attack of the bloopers. He needed a better one here, so we hope he doesn’t go out on this note.

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (9, 8, 9, 9, Total 35)
Dancing the Viennese Waltz, Denise was starting to show she could adapt to those more sultry, soft dances that perhaps hadn’t been her favorites. All good content here, some tricky solo turns, nicely finished arms too. We hope she enjoyed herself here as much as it looked like. The others should be concerned if she’s starting to enjoy the feel of the dancing more now… Certainly still for the long haul.

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (6, 6, 6, 5, Total 23)
Victoria finally showed us a clean performance and good Tango last week, dancing the Samba this week how would she cope? Firstly perhaps we should say that Samba is a bit of a tricky one, and needs so much middle body action and core strength to pull it off. She did look quite nervous in places and that maybe contributed to s stiffer look, but this wasn’t a bad attempt. She is going forward but needs some stronger technique now.

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (6, 7, 8, 8, Total 29)
Louis topped the score board last week and with a 35, finished with the highest score so far! Dancing the Samba, surely his reign was to be short-lived? We felt he came across slightly better than Victoria but had a whole different set of considerations. There was something slightly reserved about his dance, but he’d clearly worked hard to try to get this unique style going. Not bad, but needs to shake off those reservations now.

Colin Salmon & Kristina Rihanoff (6, 7, 7, 7, Total 27)
Saved by the judges in the dance-off last week Colin needs to get back on the game. And yes, he did it, with the very impressive kicks. But not only, footwork and  posture improved, but we feel he can move more. Kristina should push him a bit more and maybe tone down her own performance in order to show what’s best in Colin.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (4, 7, 7, 7, Total 25)
Dancing to unusually slow music, he gave a very respectable performance. Although we agree with Craig, who said it was a series of presentations, he deserves a praise for mastering the content given to him. Another thing he needs to learn is an emotional connection with Karen. Carry on Nicky, keep improving.

Fern Britton & Artem Chigvintsev (6, 6, 6, 6, Total 24)
Fern has been held back in the last few weeks with more reserved performances, but if one dance could fire her up, surely Paso Doble might do it. Well, erm, even with Artem’s muscle bound body trying to work it’s magic, she was still not firing on all cylinders here. She needed more shape and more intensity. Once again this looked too calm. Otherwise it was error free and a smart Paso. Fern just hasn’t found another performance level yet but slightly better than last week.

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (7, 8, 8, 8, Total 31)
We know Michael had been showing an aptitude for ballroom so maybe our expectations were high of him dancing this Slow Foxtrot. Once again, he did a good job and showed plenty of choreography and content here. We just hope he can keep this going through his Latin.

Danny & Vincent (8, 8, 9, 8, Total 33)
Dancing the Jive, this was a characterful and lively routine, style spot on. Craig made us laugh, who spotted poor Danny with her legs a adrift at the wrong time! In some ways with a dance of this character, maybe she was always destined to end with a solid score, and those having to pull off the Samba tonight might have felt a bit hard done by. Never the less, she should be pleased with a solid performance and a growing feel for the Jive.

So, after five weeks, Denise pops up at the top once again (not that she’s been trailing at the bottom in the other weeks) with Kimberley, Michael (maybe only a ballroom boy though?) and Dani in close company too. Fern, Richard and Victoria & Nicky might have a sleepless night waiting to see how the public rate them.