It's been a busy week for our HELLO! columnist this week, Strictly's head judge Shirley Ballas. The dance expert has dealt with social media trolls and battled the lurgy that seems to be going around the BBC show. But she's also seen some dances that have delighted her, from the female contestants in particular – although she hasn't handed out any more tens. Read on to find out what she thought of David's not-entirely-unexpected departure, how Mike can pull his socks up, and which female celebrity pulled off the biggest transformation…
It was David's time to go, although had he not made so many mistakes he might have been in with a chance of staying. The jive is a difficult dance for anybody let alone somebody who is 6' 5" and I have to say the posture was correct and the little bits of jive he did were actually quite good. But Mike didn't make any mistakes and he went hell for leather in the dance-off, he wasn't going without a fight so I think the judge's decision to save him was absolutely correct.
We had a lot of pushback from fans about Dianne and Dev leaving last weekend, and I have to say, this was one of the worst weeks of my life on social media. People tell me not to read it, but I like to keep people in touch with the show. Some of the things people said to me, though, I'd no idea those kinds of things could come out of people's mouths. Let's keep this in perspective: this is a reality TV show competition. I understand that people have favourites but every week from here on in someone's got to go home and they don't like it so they blame the judges. It's concerning, not just for me but I think of younger people who are bullied on social media. I want to encourage any boys and girls who are in that position to tell an adult and to not believe hurtful or harmful messages that people might send to you. I also hope that if people are upset by someone leaving they can pause, take a breath and appreciate their journey.
David had an amazing journey. He represented every man who has ever sat there thinking, 'Shall I get up and have a dance? No, I've got two left feet.' It's a breath of fresh air for people to understand that they can get out there and learn to dance in such a short space of time. At the beginning of the competition, Mike showed off his humour and energy but we're at the point now where the dancers who have rhythm in their bodies start to become clear and he's got personality in spades but he needs to work on his musicality.
It's still a bit early to tell which dancers are going to pull ahead. Kelvin started at a really high level and set the bar, but now other people have moved towards him. What he can do to improve is work on a seamless flow, but he has a good personality and he's a great competitor. Karim's tricks and highlights are always executed well but it was a little bit like an aerobics routine and he definitely needs more careful foot placement. Saffron pulled it up a notch this week. She danced to the end of the beat which is something world champions strive to do. She was extremely comfortable to watch, beautiful footwork and great chemistry – another breath-taking performance from someone we didn't expect it from. She's moved the leader board around a bit.
I was getting worried that the girls weren't quite as strong as the boys but now they're starting to do well. Alex's Charleston with a hip hop feel was her best so far and a lovely improvement of the dynamic between her and Neil. One of the most impressive and outstanding performances of the evening was Emma Weymouth. When she started she had too many issues with her neck and her frame, you've got to have a strong core and strong legs and feet and I just thought the improvement from week one to being in the bottom two and then coming out to do a performance like that was nothing short of miraculous. I take my hat off to Aljaz for getting her to do that! The one that was a bit concerning for me was Emma and Anton, the Paso Doble was nicely done and had some nice leaps and jumps in there yeah but it lacked that true feeling of the bullfight or flamenco dancing, even though her arms were nicely in place and the choreography so was delivered quite well. They need to find that passion as a couple and then direct it to the audience.
I had no idea until Will's video that he had started his journey in Great Ormond Street and I think the message he sent out yesterday was the kind of message we should be sending to young people, especially children who are gravely ill. They can look at that and think 'I'll never give up'. I know he's inspired lots and lots of children and should feel proud of that. Performances can be about musicality, technical achievement, or they can come from the heart and soul and although his dancing was really pretty good I think it was more touching and moving. Motsi was obviously very overwhelmed and I was trying to comfort her during the number because we've both got children and I just thought it was amazing. I love that Strictly's added these contemporary performances, they never really mess with the format but they keep it interesting and it gives different people a chance to shine.
Johannes and Graziano are set to perform the show's first same-sex duet I think that's fantastic. I teach a lot of same-sex couples to get them ready for world championships so if that was part of the competitive aspect of Strictly, I'd be an advocate for it. Why not? The world is a changing place and I just like to see people moving to music. We miss Bruno when he isn't there but Alfonso is always so positive, it's a delight to have him around. His wife's just had another baby and they were there with him on Saturday. His dance with Mike was a classic moment that will go down in the history books!
I didn't give out any tens this week, and the show is only going to get tougher. You can be a bit more flexible with contemporary or Charleston because it's not confined to a particular technique but although people know me as a technician, I'm an all-rounder, so if I'm going to give out a ten, I'm looking at the feet, the arms, the back, the projection to the audience and at the end of the day do they leave me with that goosebumps feeling, that's what I'm looking for.
Come back next week to see which Halloween couples thrilled Shirley, and who left her cold…
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