The big semi-final. This is the one show that is the most nerve-wracking for all who are left in the competition. If you get kicked out tonight, you will have danced in every single show up to the final only to fall at the last hurdle, do every single week on It Takes Two and then be the only couple who has to rehearse with all who have been kicked out whilst the others stay in the fight for the glory. You are the ultimate bridesmaid, the runner up of all runner-ups and it's complete heartbreak for you, the unlucky couple.
Choosing the right dances at the right time is crucial. If you leave a harder dance until the semi final you are asking for trouble. You have to be clever. Performing a Cha Cha, Rumba or a Samba might be a mistake for most people so best to get these done earlier in the competition. The perfect equation would be something powerful, fun or quirky, followed by something beautiful and mesmerising.
Stacey and Kevin started off with a Charleston
In last week's column I predicted a Stacey and Kevin win and their dance choices tonight have done nothing but confirm that. Charleston to start off, a peoples favourite and performed without a hitch. A solid dance, not amazing for a semi final but certainly fun and a well thought out dance. The judges loved it though scoring it 9-10-10-10 and it was a great start to the show.
MORE: Strictly bosses just made a groundbreaking decision
Joe and Diane also have the perfect equation in dance choice starting with the beautiful Viennese Waltz. If you are doing a simple dance like this, the lead up is crucial. You need to arrive at the semi final with quality and experience and this is where Joe and Diane failed for me. If they’d danced more proper Ballroom throughout the show, understanding and rehearsing the Ballroom technique, this dance would have been a lot better. For the first time in the competition, three of the judges who in my opinion have been over scoring them had no choice but to mark this one down. On a positive note, it was beautifully set, well choreographed and had a lovely feeling so it won’t stop them on their journey to next week.
Ashley and Pasha start with drama. We expect so much from these two now. She is a fantastic dancer and completely able within every aspect of the show. This dance was possibly too hectic. It needed time to breathe. You cannot say it was in any way bad. The judges have not fallen in love with them like they have others. 9-9-9-9 from them which is harsh as we’ve already seen three 10s from a dance that wasn’t nearly as good? I say they are brilliant, they deserve the utmost of praise and I think she is possibly the best celebrity dancer the show has ever had!
There aren't many couples left in the competition now
Lauren and AJ start with a Tango. It's good but not amazing. She's absolutely getting better week upon week but we are looking at two different competitions now. I have loved her journey. Not sure the black shoes were the right choice as her feet are a weak point and it just highlighted them. Full praise to AJ as he has made her shine to the maximum.
READ: Katya Jones reflects on exhausting Strictly experience
My favourites from the start, Faye and Gio. Oh no…Samba! Well this was potentially a mistake and let me explain why. It's not that Samba is necessarily hard compared to other dances, it’s just that there is so much more to learn to get it right. There are a lot of different timings used within it. It has both bounce and flat aspects, it's fast, it travels. All in all there is so much that can go wrong and it’s generally difficult to get all of those elements working together in a short space of time and this week they have two dances to perfect. Their dance for me was unfortunately far from perfect. You could pull it apart on the technical aspects that weren’t quite right. Faye managed a very good Samba but it needed another week to get it spot on. Scores were still high and I hope that the public like her as much as I do.
The second half… A very pretty Viennese Waltz from Stacey and Kevin. Technique wasn't great. Stacey’s fleckerl was on the toes, it's supposed to be flat. The arms weren’t danced, they were flailing, the top line wasn’t perfect because of the left arm. It can't be a 10 with all of this, yet they got one! It certainly had a beauty about it and there is no doubt about their chemistry. They deserve the final and they danced two lovely dances to get them there.
All the couples danced twice on Saturday
Joe and Diane's second number was an Argentine Tango. I think it's fair to say, he's been one of my least favourites in the later part of this competition because for me the dancing standard hasn't been good enough. This was actually one of my favourites of his even though it wasn’t particularly well danced. I loved the start, it kept in character throughout and Joe was very strong for her when he stood still and she danced off him. It astounds me that certain judges can continue their plight to champion him though. He is of course very likeable and seems to be the most lovely guy but this is still a competition and if the dancing is not great, it should be critiqued accordingly.
Ashley and Pasha and the American Smooth: their lifts were outstanding! The transitions were incredible, a lovely dance that showed just how good she is. My critique was with their costuming. Her dress was pretty, he looked dapper, but put her in a ballgown head to toe in Swarovski Crystal and him in top hat (which he had) and a beautifully cut tail suit and it would’ve changed that number into a masterpiece. As it was, it was just another number. This is the difference that is going to allow Stacey and Kevin to win this. Together with the show they have had this judged perfectly. There’s still the final Ash and Pash!
Ashley is incredible at doing lifts
Lauren and AJ's dance number two, a Samba??? Who's idea was that? It just fell short I’m afraid. I don't need to be horrible here. She's done an incredible job making it this far. She smiled throughout, despite the mistakes. So I say congratulations, as a semi final is an outstanding achievement!
Closing the show…Faye and Giovanni. Exquisite! Beautiful choreography, perfectly executed and powerfully performed. It was precision meets drama meets final! Brilliant!
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.