Blackpool week beckons and I get the feeling we will be hearing this word about 50 times too many on tonight's Strictly Come Dancing but I'm not bothered about that. Blackpool week is always a milestone for the couples. It's an incredible show to be a part of with a big crowd, a lot of fuss and and it's also a chance for a jolly up north. There's also a little added incentive for the celebs of a small bonus in their pay packet. As much as it can be a bit of an upheaval in a busy Strictly schedule, once you get up there it's a great weekend and one that the show puts a lot of effort into. I for one will slightly miss being there with everyone but won't miss the countless rehearsals including the big one today (Sunday) happening as I write this piece. I'm told that the pros have already had about five rehearsal days on this one dance so I hope it's worth it!
On to last night's show and it's Kate and Aljaz to kick us off. Their dance is a wedding-themed number which is a theme I went out on in last year's Strictly with lovely Charlotte Hawkins. If you have read any of my columns from previous weeks you'll know that I started out being a big fan of Kate but in recent weeks my excitement has started to dwindle. The judges were full of praise but unfortunately I can’t agree. I love Aljaz's choreography, it's a fun number and yes it's light and fluffy but unfortunately it does actually look like a slightly casual wedding dance. This is Strictly and once the music is playing and the quirky intro is done it's time to perform and this didn’t happen. No proper Ballroom position from Kate, no power and a lack of attack. I hope they don't face the same short honeymoon that Charlotte and I had last year!
Danny and Amy have been in the press this week
Danny and Amy have apparently had a big week according to the media? Rumours of arguments, Amy in tears and the standard 'everything is fine' post-interview on It Takes Two. I'm not one to believe stories from the media but the interview did seem to confirm that there was a problem so how did it affect their week? Samba is a soft dance and Danny is normally quite stiff, only his stiffness gives his Samba quite a slick feel which I quite like. Most people fall at the Samba hurdle but I think he suits this dance and apart from the over egged facial expressions from his partner and a lack of softness in the knees it’s a good dance. I guess if anything is going to hurt his chances this week it will be the audience's disdain for couples not getting along.
Ashley and Pasha's contemporary dance was beautiful
Here we go, Ashley and Pasha doing a couple's choice contemporary number. An emotional VT to kick things off, a barefoot dance to an emotional piece of music and wow…Absolutely beautiful! She is a great performer and a beautiful dancer. What I am loving is Pasha this year. It just shows with the right partner, the professional dancers become inspired and really step up. I think this is the first year since Caroline Flack that I've seen him really perform. They are clearly a credit to each other this series and that was a very moving and excellent dance. The judges were also full of praise and I particularly liked Craig's comments. But the Oscar for best actress goes to…
Graeme and Oti doing a Salsa certainly brought the emotional feeling running through the studio to an abrupt end. I have to be brutally honest about this… l really hated it. I love them as a couple, he's one of my favourite contestants but it was a horrible dance. I'm not sure that the audience will like it despite the judges giving it so much praise. Maybe you had to be there in the studio to appreciate it but it just lacked the Strictly magic for me. I also don’t get why the pros still need "experts" to help them with Salsa. It's such an easy dance to choreograph and teach and I think they should think about changing that up.
I really hated Graeme and Oti's dance this week
Anyone else get the feeling Shirley is not a fan? Anyway… Maybe Faye should have properly creamed Gio's face with the ice-cream, that would have been very 'dynamic'! I am not a fan of a 50’s/60’s style jive but I can’t argue with Faye's ability. I'm surprised by the music and theme decision on this one, especially given that it is Gio's favourite dance but maybe that decision was out of their hands? She danced well and matched him throughout. My critique on the dance would be that her feet were too turned out which made things a little stiff and gave it a slightly balletic look. Still a front runner and still heading north next week! Have to mention Faye's perplexed face during Shirley's judgement and Gio looked like he was about to blow (but he didn't)! In Shirley's defence she did say that she is 'very competent and capable'… nice!
According to Tess, Stacey would really love her first 10! I'm sure a lot of the contestants would… So after that announcement I wonder if any judge will give her one, probably not able to this week given the actual dance but praise will be coming. I liked their VT, we got to see them in training and see the chemistry between them which is really nice. I have to compliment Kevin… A lovely routine, very complex which most people don’t do for a Waltz. He really put some thought into it and it was a beautiful and challenging number. Stacey's dancing could have been better executed though and although it was really good, there were a few small things that let her down. Better transitions between the different pieces of choreography and being more believable within the story they were telling (especially at the beginning) would have really improved this pretty dance.
Joe and Dianne's dance was over-scored
I'm afraid that Joe and Diane's Samba was less than good but yet again, the judges went into their 'We Love Joe' fan club mode… Judges scores 7-8-8-9? Wonder if they've gained anymore followers by now? Let me explain. We can compare like for like here… Danny JJ v Joe S. Two male celebs, both doing a Samba on the same night. Danny scored 6-7-7-7. If anything, you need to reverse these scores. This is a clear case of blatant favouritism in my opinion and it’s disgraceful. No disrespect to Joe as he just performed to his best ability an average at best Samba but giving 8’s and 9’s for this dance is a terrible injustice to the other couples. I'm actually outraged.
Lauren has arrived! What a beautiful dance. I've been waiting to see her get into the feeling of Strictly and she finally has. I loved this dance from start to finish. She's by no means a natural dancer and her technique still needs work but this was a real step up from anything she’s done so far and makes the number even more impressive. A little world on AJ… This young man is proving his ability as a dancer and teacher and is standing out in the competition for me amongst some of his peers. I also have to applaud the BBC’s choice of VT and mentioning of Lauren's disability. The more my children see and hear about inspirational, capable people like Lauren and know that they are just like everyone else, the better. Congratulations BBC!
Charles and Karen ended the show on a high
Spot on from Charles and Karen! Great way to finish the show and it’s fantastic to see him dancing well, fighting for his spot in the competition and not letting the bad results get him down. Could have had more intensity in the various kicking actions to match Karen and there were times he didn’t really commit in the traditions but what a come-back, what a dance and what a partnership! Who's not coming to Blackpool? Who knows but one thing is for sure… some very deserving couples are and they all have a big week ahead!
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