Strictly Come Dancing – Week 11, The Famous Five: Semi-final Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 11, The Famous Five: Semi-final Strictly

Nicky stumbled at the dance off against Denise last week which left us with a 5-couple line-up. With two dances for each of the couples this week, who would make that wonderful final, and who would be exiting with dignity this week?

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (Tango 9, 10, 10, 10, T39, Rumba 9, 9, 10, 10, T38 Gran Total 77)
In the last couple of weeks, Denise, for whatever reason, had not managed to bring out her best performances and if ever there was a time for that to change, it was now. Dancing her Tango, you could clearly see the nerves in the legs as they got into their first dance. As the dance progressed, she seemed to settle more and almost got better as the dance went on. This was much better from Denise; a good clean, solid performance and showing more posture and poise than Kimberley’s perfect 40 Tango fusion of last week. Good score at 39, and just what she needed.
Dancing the Rumba, we couldn’t help but feel that they’d slightly craftily hidden Denise hip- and middloe body-line behind a somewhat floaty dress! The dance was lovely, and captivated everyone in the mood, and showing some good dance skills but it that slightly stiffer middle body moving freely? We didn’t think so. Great score from the judges, well desereved we thought but a slight unanswered question for us here. At the moment it looks set to be a Kimberley-Denise fight to the end!

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (Salsa 7, 8, 8, 8, T31, Am Smooth 8, 8, 8, 8, T32 Grand Total 63)
Lisa continues to be great fun to watch but there remains those questions hanging over her of should she go through to the final without some of those better dance techniques the others have developed. Her Samba was again brimming with enthusiasm and she even managed to get away with a floor spin as a spectacular splash. The second dance was slightly more refined but needs technical bits and bobs. As a dancer she’s behind, as an on stage fun entertainer she’s miles ahead.

Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone (Am Smooth 8, 9, 8, 9, T34, Arg Tango 9, 10, 9, 10, T38 Grand Total 72)
With her Argentine Tango, we didn’t expect anything other than a good performance dancing with Vincent. Vincent has a repertoire of more than 30 Argentine Tango showdances and is no stranger to what they need If you want to learn, we have a new course starting in January!!). She pulled this off well with some complex elements too. Still we’d like to see her grow in intensity and pull off an even more mature (danse-wise) perforance. Her Foxtrot was good too, but didn’t fire us up as some of the others had done. Good score, well deserved, but could be vulnerable now.

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (Jive 7, 8, 8, 8, T31, Foxtrot 9, 9, 9, 10, T38 Grand Total 69)
Oh Louis! You’ve got to feel with him that his body is so capabale of so many things with dancing, he just hasn’t got it under control enough. He has the opposite problem of some of the others where his range of movements is so well developed, the others by contrast have been trying to increase, improve, stretch and develop. Ironic that this might be his undoing then! He wasn’t bad tonight, and has certainly ‘performed’ better over the last few weeks, but his jive was untidy here and there, lacking some finesse, sharpness and looking a bit loose. He’s looking vulnerable here now.

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (Am Smooth 9, 10, 9, 10, T38 Charleston 10, 10, 10, 10, Total 40 Grand Total 78)
We felt Kimberley was slightly fortunate to have a big show-closing number last week and be handed a perfect 40. Denise pulled off a better Tango tonight, but Kimberley pulled out her Ace card, her Charleston, which got her yet another perfect score. Crucially for her though, this dance wasn’t one to beat Denise’ Charleston from Wembley week. Perhaps this means technically Denise might still be a nose in front on equal terms but boy-oh-boy this is going to be some final…. bring it on!

We thought last week was good, but this week we had some even better dancing from the remaining celebrities. So far you have got to feel that more or less the final five have been deserved of being in this good semi-final, but who should go out now, and who should progress? Lisa and Louis must be looking over their shoulders now, but maybe Dani is the quiet dancer in the middle?

A few interesting stats for you before we go:

  • Highest Average score so far is Denise on 33.6, then Kimberley on 32.9.
  • The average score for the Charleston is higher than any other dance.
  • Louis, Lisa and Dani are below the average score improvements now.
  • Denise holds the highest number of chart-topping scores at 6.
  • Over the last 4 weeks, the couple with the lowest judges score has exited.
  • Looking at the mean scores, and rates of improvement, Denise should win, Kimberley second, with a tie between Dani & Louis, and Lisa not making the final.

Somehow we don’t even what to look at the public effect; far too complicated!

With one week left to go for that wonderful final, it’s looking like a tough, tough competition, particularly between Kimberley and Denise….. great! We can’t wait.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 10, The Dirty Dozen: The Dancing Mission

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 10, The Dirty Dozen: The Dancing Mission

After Michael was caught out by his Samba in last Sunday’s dance off, that left us the last 6 couples to tussle for the top spoils tonight. After a slightly below par week from Denise too, would she bounce back this week?

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (8, 9, 9, 9, Total 35)
Dancing the fusion of Quickstep and Jive, Denise and James really had an energetic pair of dances to contend with. With all the talk of James’ blooper last week, this was a pressure cooker waiting for something to happen… and it did! They did a great job with their jive, and the quickstpe, if a little bouncey, was respectable, but the heel got caught in the dress gremlin krept in just to keep things exciting! She receovered well but you couldn’t help but feel the judges we’ren’t understanding enough. Top scores were spoilt we felt and another week below par for her. It’s still all there when it comes together.

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (7, 8, 7, 8, Total 30)
For the last few weeks we have seen Lisa increasingly vulnerable as her dance improvements hadn’t kept pace with the others; her energetic joyful character aside. Dancing the Tango-Cha Cha Cha fusion, there are a good few things needed to make a more refined performance now, although she still was full of character. She needs more refinements and up against some of the others, she will need to address these. Beginning to look a little more vulnerable here, although hugely popular.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (5, 7, 8, 7, Total 27)
Nicky really stepped up in the dance off last week to get through here but here he had his hands full having to dance the Samba-American Smooth fusion. His Samba needed to be stronger through his centre but did have some bounce, and the Smooth part needed more smooth, flowing movement and better posture. The overall dance was nice, but left him a bit expsosed this week. Tough draw, not looking that safe either.

Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone (9, 10, 9, 10, Total 38)
The fusion of Charleston-Quickstep was probably a match made in heaven, the dances being very strongly related, and we haven’t often seen a week Charleston have we? That being said, they did a good job here, with plenty of stylish elements of both dances, being performed well. There is something with Dani that sometimes doesn’t look too sophisticated but these dances really suited her. Great score, well deserved!

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (9, 9, 9, 10, Total 37)
Finally Louis gave us some personality in his performance last week and we hope that’s just the start for him. Dancing the Tango-Rumba fusion, this was one of hte better male celebrity Rumbas we’ve had, although the Tango lacked some attack and stronger demeanour. He did ‘perform’ again which is great. Fix that thumb Louis! Another strong score from Louis keeps him up there.

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (10, 10, 10, 10, Total 40)
Traditionally the Strictly gods had determined that the show should open with a strong performance, and finish with a good crowd pleaser too, so our hopes were high. Dancing the Cha Cha Cha-Tango fusion to “Raining Men,” this was certainly a big, extrovert performance to close the show. Her Cha Cha Cha was much improved and performed fully for this big song, the Tango for us showed some weakness still in her neck line which should follow the line of her back, but was often held forward. If we ignored that, this was a step up from Kimberley and we hoped enough to take the fight of the others all the way to the end now. Unbeatable score, caught us slightly by surprise as we’d put her 38-39, but not yet that 40. A lovely emotional reaction from Kimberley really shows just what they’re putting into it. Well done Kimberley!!

This was a real corker of a show, full with everything from beginning to end, and really signifying the competition has hotted up, possibly beyond what we have seen before. With another slightly weaker outing from Denise, Kimberley stepped up, and the others did too! That left Nicky and Lisa trailing at the bottom (with Denise next up!). Is it Lisa’s time? Maybe a reality check has come at the right time for Denise and it’s now left us with a tough, tough competition….. great! We can’t wait.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 9, The Magnificent Seven

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 9, The Magnificent Seven?!

After Victoria had to get on her bike in last Sunday’s dance off, that left us the last 7 couples to tussle for the top spoils tonight Would anyone be able to challenge that elusive Denise?

Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (9, 8, 8, 9, Total 34)
Kimberley’s Jive showed a great amount of energy and character. There were a couple of slightly bumpy places but in general she really got into this dance and did as good a job as she could have hoped for with that tricky, fast footwork. She did well here and didn’t shy away from the more difficult aspects of the Jive too.

Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone (8, 8, 9, 9, Total 34)
This Viennese Waltz was danced with a wonderful character – the Venetian Gondola boy whisking away the lovely girl. This was a really sweet performance. Craig pulled them up for not having the wow factor but this dance wasn’t really about that. We thought she pulled this one off well, yes, still some improvements here and there, but good job Dani.

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (5, 7, 6, 6, Total 24)
Dancing the Samba, Michael had to show an improvement in his Latin or his weakness would be exposed once more. Well, certainly he’d improved and obviously worked hard to get it better. There is still more to come but here he danced more, was braver, got into the steps a bit more. Fingers crossed he can keep improving his Latin as that will really determine now how much further he can go. Not the best score for this one so will he be in trouble?

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (7, 8, 7, 8, Total 30)
Nicky pulled out a great Charleston last week and certainly that would be tough to follow. This week, his Argentine Tango he did show yet another quite strong performance to “Skyfall”. Sometimes this had too much of a brisk or brittle look to the dance, making it look a little stompy here and there, but in general it was full of quite strong character with a nice story. Not as good as last time, but what would have been?

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (7, 8, 8, 8, Total 31)
Our happy dancer brought her happy feel to the wet weather tonight with a bit of sunshine in her quickstep. She’s the sort of dancer that really cheers you up, regardless of some of the weaknesses in the technique; that’s been her strength from the first week and it continues. Sometimes she needs more refinements and up against some of the others, she will need to address these. Little Miss Sunshine this week though.

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (8, 8, 8, 8, Total 32)
Would it be another board topper? Dancing the Salsa, this was packed full of everything, in fact maybe too much of everything! There were lifts, multiple spins, a big package of choreography. Maybe this was just a but too much choreography here which sometimes left her looking shaky. She showed good skills again but a few minor niggles here. James confessed to not quite holding it together for her too. Their lowest score for a while but you’ve still got to see a big dancing toolbox under all that.

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (8, 10, 9, 10, Total 37)
We’ve wanted a bit more personality from Lewis over the last few weeks, and dancing the Charleston, this gave him that opportunity to express himself more. This was lovely, full of character and oozing facial expression too. Hooray! This was a dance, a performance, sprinkled with tricks, and a nice little act too. Without knowing the scores, you could see he was going to rise through the ashes this week. With a less strong outing from Denise, Louis finally steps up! We have a competition on our hands!

Well, this was an interesting week. With a slightly weaker outing from Denise, Louis headed the leader board confidently, hotly followed by Kimberley and Dani. That left Nicky and Michael trailing at the bottom. Surely Michael hasn’t done enough in his Latin here but we’ll have to wait to find out.

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.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 4 Halloween Special

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 4, it’s Halloween

After some improvements last week, and Jerry’s perhaps not so graceful exit, who would raise their game in week 4 and who would be in the Strictly coffin?

Danny & Vincent (6, 6, 8, 7, Total 27)
Dancing the Scooby-doo themed Cha Cha Cha, Danny was starting to dance choreography from a higher level which was encouraging – Vincent maybe getting a bit braver with her now? The technique still needs big developments to pull off this dance better (more body action, stronger legs will all make this dance look better) but it’s going the right way.

Richard Arnold & Erin Boag (5, 5, 7, 5, Total 22)
After an improvement for his Quickstep last week, could Richard keep moving forward with his dancing this week? Dancing the Paso Doble he certainly threw himself into this, and maybe earned some points for that. However, now he was back out of hold, there was still some improvements not yet made. He really needs to raise his game in the quality of his Latin now to keep up with those at the front.

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (6, 6, 7, 7, Total 26)
Dancing the Halloween Charleston once again Lisa entered full of personality on the floor, bright, cheerful and happy. This was a very fast track and did expose some lack of technique in this dance, not going unmissed by the judges this time. Her personality really is carrying her further and further, but is this the start of the calls for more quality to go into her dance.

Sid Owen & Ola Jordan (2, 5, 5, 5, Total 17)
Dancing the Ghostbusters’ Cha Cha Cha, we were hoping for a step forward after a bit of a dip last week. Well, this was a little restrained and left us feeling not quite brought into his dance enough (Compare this with Lisa who also lacked some technique but pulled herself forward). Sid is in trouble and under pressure on the dance floor at the moment and will need to raise his game and find some confidence very quickly to last out a bit longer.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (6, 6, 7, 7, Total 26)
Nicky made a good positive step forward last week so we hoped this week would continue in the same theme, maybe relaxing into a more confident role too. Dancing the Tango (to Weird Science!), you’d have to say he did achieve just that. He has raised his game, and didn’t lack confidence stamping out his steps! Yes, still much to do, but he seemed to get away with Weird Tango this week.

Fern Britton & Artem Chigvintsev (4, 5, 6, 6, Total 21)
Last weekend Fern was needing an injection of energy and sharpness. Dancing the American Smooth, there was an opportunity to play to a bad-girl here but we saw a softer role. Len said she needed more “Wow factor” and we felt just the same. She needs to indulge some more, and express much more through her body to really get the most out of it. More expression Fern, come on! This is holding her back now.

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (7, 7, 7, 7, Total 28)
Denise has now risen expectations each week that she will be the one to beat. Dancing the ‘freaky’ Cha Cha Cha to “Can’t touch this”, she was slightly more exposed in this dance and you could see there needed to be more leg and hip action. The basic quality of the dances is hardest to achieve and whilst often hidden in choreography and fuller outfits, here it was in need of development as it was on full show. Still heading for the late weeks of the show but more dance quality developments needed now.

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (8, 8, 8, 7, Total 31)
Michael has been struggling, particularly with his Latin. Dancing his Quickstep, he was back in hold and much better once again. OK, so there were refinements in his hold and movement needed but this was so much better than last week. If he’s going to take to ballroom much better than Latin, Natalie’s challenge will be getting him through the Latin dances more successfully. Well done Michael, the best step up from one week to the next we’ve seen. Cracking score!

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (7, 8, 8, 8, Total 31)
After a tricky costume issue last week, we’d been waiting for two weeks now to see if she’d settled into the competition more. Dancing the Tango (and another wonderful costume and theatrical setting) she was much improved, a developing hold and posture, only a minor bloopster, but very solid. Very pleased to see her perform now, and another cracking score.

Colin Salmon & Kristina Rihanoff (5, 7, 6, 6, Total 24)
Last week we felt he hadn’t been able to spend enough time in training and it showed in amongst the tricks and lifts. Dancing the Salsa ( to “Superstition”) he did have a pleasant rhythm ticking away but more footwork, body action and a few bloopers all dragged the scores down. Difficult for Kristina here but her job will be made easier in the studio if she can get him there enough. We feel he could do better with more time.

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (8, 9, 9, 9, Total 35)
After a couple of weeks of this series it was becoming clearer that Louis might be the one to push Denise. Dancing the Tango (and another amazing wardrobe set-up), this was very solid. Flavia has clearly worked him so hard with this routine, full of tricky content and some characterful play brought into that too. Highest score of the series so far. Keep it up Louis!

Kimberly Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (8, 8, 7, 8, Total 31)
After a good week with the quickstep last week, could Kimberly keep it up this week? Dancing the Paso Doble (as Little Red Riding Hood), there she was acting and dancing like a Diva! It looked like the gates had been opened and now she’s finding confidence, style and enjoying the actions of dancing more too. Thoroughly deserved best score to date from her too.

So, after four weeks, we maybe have Louis and Denise as early stars, but Kimberly and Victoria are raising their game now too. Denise, Louis, Kimberley, Victoria, and Michael should all be in it for a while yet, Sid, Fern, Richard and Colin might have a sleepless spook night waiting to see how the public rate them.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 3 Hollywood Week

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 3, it’s Hollywood

After some improvements last week, who would raise their game in week 3 and who would be joining poor Johnny in the early exits?

Fern Britton & Artem Chigvintsev (5, 6, 6, 6, Total 23)
Last weekend Fern was starting to look more at home on the Strictly floor, and seemed to be enjoying herself. This week, dancing the Charleston, there was potential for complications with the canes, hats and umbrellas in the mix, but they pulled it off. Maybe this wasn’t the rip roaring, gimmick-packed Charleston we hoped for, but this was positive, in character and was free of errors. They were pulled up by the judges who were left wanting more content and energy but not at all bad, still going in the right direction. Will need more energy and technique soon though!!

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (4, 5, 7, 6, Total 22)
After a slightly better week 2 dancing the Foxtrot, this week would her Rumba start to light up the floor with? Well, costume issues stepped right in to steal her thunder. Wrapped up in the dress more than twice this was a costume that she shouldn’t have been given. It looked like she was just going to open up and shine, then it was hampered away again. We were left frustrated that she couldn’t show us her best this week but felt there is something improving under that naughty chiffon!

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (3, 6, 6, 4, Total 19)
We felt Michael had to show improvement this week after a week Jive in the last show. He might have nearly fallen of his chair, but we didn’t quite fall off ours! Top comment from the judges, “At least the top and the bottom of your body were connected this week!” Maybe this was better than his Jive, but there needs to be some strong improvements from him to make it to the later weeks. Latin is a real weakness for him at the moment.

Jerry Hall & Anton du Beke (3, 6, 5, 4, Total 18)
After seeing her struggling a bit last week, we were hoping for a positive step this week! Sadly, it still lacked the posture needed to carry off this dance. Footwork, not too bad, but please, please Jerry, we want you to step up and dance like the glamour lady you are!

Sid Owen & Ola Jordan (4, 4, 5, 4, Total 17)
Dancing the Tango, they had the tricky task of combining head-banging rock with staccato and legato body rhythms and it didn’t suit. He did take a good while to get dancing and when he did, the dance was weaker, lacking that key Tango character. He’s gone backwards this week so let’s hope it’s a one off blooper.

Kimberly Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (7, 7, 7, 8, Total 29)
The problem with Kimberly is that people expect so much. Dancing the Quickstep, a good follow-on to the Foxtrot from last week, there was certainly much there to be proud of- the makings of a hold coming along, early signs of developing posture, good feel for the quickstep, and even a few smiles. Well done Kimberly! One to watch.

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (8, 8, 8, 8, Total 32)
After a chart-topping week last week, Denise put herself in the spotlight. With their Foxtrot from Toy Story, they showed that it wasn’t a one-week wonder, and has now shown capability across very different dances. The judges resisted bringing out the “9” just yet. Denise is the one to beat at the moment and we don’t see a challenger right now.

Colin Salmon & Kristina Rihanoff (7, 7, 6, 6, Total 26)
Dancing the Argentine Tango, he stepped back into the James Bond movie style. It was performed and carried off in character, but there was really little Argentine Tango content to this. He partnered Kristina well in the lifts but we wanted more dancing from Colin please! Only ten hours this week was really not enough. Come on Colin, show us your stuff!

Richard Arnold & Erin Boag (6, 7, 6, 6, Total 25)
Cha Cha showed some weaknesses last week. Dancing the Quickstep this week, with Strictly’s Queen of Quickstep, Erin, this was definitely a step up from last week, beginnings of posture, hold, footwork, and it caused no offence with the judges too! Much better Richard, well done!

Danny & Vincent (7, 6, 8, 8, Total 29)
Dancing the Foxtrot, she really had worked hard with this sometimes quite demanding choreography. This was a lovely routine, and well danced, especially for week 3. Not quite as strong as Denise’ Foxtrot but not far behind and improving.

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (8, 6, 7, 8, Total 29)
Once again, Lisa through herself into her dance, the Jive. She’s full of enthusiasm and character that makes a bigger impression that wonderful technique sometimes, and she’s clearly proving to be popular on the show. She’ll need to improve the dancing technique underneath all the pizzazz as the show goes on but she’s in it for a while longer yet – she has time.

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (6, 7, 7, 7, Total 27)
Choreography let him down last week, and what little cha there was needed to be stronger. Dancing the Quickstep to the Mask this week, he showed more energy and at least there was more dance content this week! He needs to carry on from here, work on the technique and throw himself into the dancing more. A real step forward.

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (8, 8, 6, 8, Total 30)
Louis had already shown himself capable in Ballroom and Latin with good previous scores in both disciplines. Dancing the part of the routine from Dirty Dancing, including the infamous lift, he held himself extremely well once again. There’s more to come from him in terms of action and technique still but this was a good performance so early in the series too. The only one keeping Denise vaguely honest at the moment.

So, after three weeks, we have a one horse race, with one horse chasing, the rest have yet to catch up. Denise, Louis, Kimberley, Dani, and Lisa should all be in it for a while yet, Sid, Jerry and Michael might have a sleepless night waiting to see how the public rate them.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 2

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 2

After some positive performances in the first week, and some that had clearly slumped to the bottom of the leader board, who would step up with style for the second week?

Nicky Byrne & Karen Hauer (4, 5, 4, 5, Total 18)
After a contraversiol week last week, Nicky needed a solid and safe performance to bring him back into the competition. Dancing the Cha Cha Cha, this was a little more like disco than Latin! As the routine unfolded we felt this wasn’t really what he needed to come out with. Stylish, but not really much Cha Cha Cha, and what little there was looked slightly underpowered. Come on Nicky, you’ve got to find the Strictly groove soon.

Colin Salmon & Kristina Rihanoff (6, 6, 6, 6, Total 24)
Dancing the Viennese Waltz, Colin didn’t manage to step into the ballroom shoes quite as comfortably as his Latin from last week. We felt his actual waltz steps (very few that there were) were lacking movement. That rise and fall action should be used in the Viennese to move across the floor, and here it was a little restricted. After a stronger showing in the Latin, his challenge will be how quickly can head apt to the ballroom styles?

Danny & Vincent (7, 6, 7, 7, Total 27)
Dancing her salsa, she certainly showed improvements from a nervous first week, and the routine added pressure with some higher risk lifts and drops too. Sometimes she became a little stiff in the back and slightly clumsy but for week two, this was a solid performance and showed she’s moving in the right direction.

Fern Britton & Artem Chigvintsev (6, 6, 6, 6, Total 24)
Dancing the Viennese Waltz, they were looking a little more comfortable than last week. Sometimes a little unfinished but there was more content than previous competitors. Hopefully if she can maintain the rate of improvement in the coming weeks she’ll grow in confidence.

Richard Arnold & Erin Boag (3, 6, 5, 5, Total 19)
Dancing the Cha Cha Cha (yes, in ‘full bloom’, where did he get that shirt?!), there was clearly room for improvement in those all-important fundamental actions, the body and leg actions, although there was some entertainment behind all of the ‘campness’. Maybe he’d have been better with a more conservative approach, working up those Cha Cha ingredients. Still, it wasn’t dance disaster in week two for him was it?

Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole (6, 6, 7, 7, Total 26)
If there was one person who needed to move up the leader board, Victoria was the one, and as such a competitor who would write her off. Dancing the foxtrot, this was a step up from her first week but there was still a little awkwardness in places that she’ll have to gain confidence to get on top of, especially when she’s spinning. Maybe, just maybe, this was the start of a more confident Victoria.

Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe (2, 5, 4, 4, Total 15)
Dancing the Jive, he threw himself in to it, and there was some entertainment factor. BUT, as far as the jiving went, the technique was lacking, and the timing had joined in a completely different dance we felt. Unfortunately we felt he’d regressed this week, spirited, but this one will be his weakness for a while and he will have to work it up.

Louis Smith & Flavia Cacace (7, 7, 8, 8, Total 30)
After starting with a good dance for him, his Cha Cha Cha, how would he get on with the different nature of the Viennese Waltz? He coped so well with the different demands of this dance. There was the beginners of poise, posture, good footwork (generally) and movement. He’s really shown himself to be capable for both the Latin & Ballroom and surely now, one to watch.

Denise Van Outen & James Jordan (8, 8, 8, 8, Total 32)
Dancing the Jive, we felt she threw absolutely everything into her dance, full of character, charisma, energy, fast-paced and flashy. For week two, this was a really terrific performance. In some ways it was crafty choreography as it had few of the tricky Jive chasses but plenty of other great content. A very enjoyable dance to watch, and a well deserved score too.

Johnny Ball & Aliona Vilani (Iveta Lukosiute) (5, 5, 5, 5, Total 20)
After being disappointed with his scores last week, he promised to raise his game for this week. Dancing the Foxtrot, we felt he’s really been working hard to get himself this far. He had tried to develop a hold, some movement and raise his game from last week. Ok, so there is much to do but this was no disgrace.

Sid Owen & Ola Jordan (6, 6, 5, 5, Total 22)
Dancing the Salsa, he certainly brought everything out onto the floor again, a big performance, and Ola made us laugh in taking on the gymnastics of Louis! We have to remember this is only week two for these celebrities and, in context, this was another solid performance and sure to keep him in a good while longer yet.

Kimberly Walsh & Pasha Pasha Kovalev (7, 6, 6, 7, Total 26)
After enjoying her first week experience so much, we were hoping that might mean a step up in confidence this week as she took to the floor for her Foxtrot. The problem with doing that with a Foxtrot is the dance is so, so demanding and reveals everything, and this revealed a few weaknesses. There were several big breaks of body connection, loss of tone through the hold, and some loss of self-belief we felt. The routine was quite ambitious and maybe over-exposed at this early stage. It was a solid score but people’s expectations are high of her. You’ve still got to think she’s in it for the long haul.

Jerry Hall & Anton du Beke (3, 5, 5, 5, Total 18)
Dancing the foxtrot, possibly one of Anton’s favourite dances, it was little like she draped everything over him and he had to power both of them around! She needs to work so much on posture, posture and more posture to carry herself better in the ballroom. At the moment she’ll be vulnerable until she sorts out some of these things and expects more of herself. Come on Jerry!

Lisa Riley & Robin Windsor (7, 6, 6, 6, Total 25)
After such an amazing, show-stealing week, how would that affect Lisa for her next performance, and a ballroom one with the Viennese Waltz? Plenty of confidence here and she has a very nice way about her on the floor. She struggled a little bit with posture in places, particularly when things got faster! Sometimes this gave a distraction, a few little bumps here and there, but generally she impressed once again and carried herself well with a wonderful smile right the way through. She’s surely going to be a good all-rounder but will need some ballroom refinements that perhaps could be masked in those more flamboyant Latin dances.

So, that’s it for the first and second shows. Now some poor celebrity has to be the first to be voted off and now the public vote adds a different aspect to success as popularity becomes a part of the story.

With another 24 hours to wait for the results show, we’ll await with interest how the public influence the outcomes in the coming hours. Those at the top of the leader board Louis & Flavia, Denise & James, Lisa & Robin, and Kimberley & Pasha might be feeling safer then those at the bottom, Michael & Natalie, Nicky & Karen, Jerry & Anton, and Johnny & Iveta. Good luck to them all!