Strictly Come Dancing duo Ola and James Jordan discuss the highs and lows of week seven, including John and Johanness' groundbreaking Rumba as the show's first all-male pairing
Somehow, we're in Week Seven of Strictly Come Dancing with just nine remaining couples pulling out all the stops in the ballroom in an attempt to waltz their way closer to the Strictly glitterball.
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Here to give their expert intel on last night's performances, including John and Johannes' groundbreaking Rumba, Dan Walker's surprisingly cool Couple's Choice and the judges' controversial opinions, we're joined by Strictly's Ola and James Jordan - here to give the low down in their weekly column, Strictly Speaking.
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James: It wasn't one of the best weeks we've seen on the series, but then it is coming up to the halfway point.
Ola: We always found when it got halfway through the series everyone gets so exhausted, so it's natural that everyone has a bit of a flat week around this point in the competition.
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James: Take last week, for example, we were blown away with Rose and Giovanni's perfect scoring Tango but nobody got a clean sweep of 10s last night. Saying that I still think the judges were scoring some people extremely high which wasn't relevant to the standard of dancing - I almost wonder if the judges feel like they have to give higher scores because we're at a later stage in the competition.
In my opinion, if the dance isn't worth a higher score then I wouldn't give it one. Likewise, I thought AJ and Kai's epic Charleston was so deserving of four 10s last night - I mean what more could they have done? Craig is probably one of my favourite judges on the panel for his honesty, but did that dance seriously not deserve a ten from him?
AJ and Kai's showstopping Charleston missed out on a perfect score by one mark
Ola: AJ and Kai's Charleston really was amazing - but there's no way she has never danced before. Some of that footwork was so intricate and so perfectly executed.
James: In my opinion, AJ saying she has never danced before is a bit like someone who has never played golf before going out after three weeks and shooting four under par. It just wouldn't happen, it's an impossibility!
That doesn't take anything away from her talent, though. They are one of my favourites in the competition and have been for a long time - I just don't believe she's a complete novice. If she has been trained before, she should own it! They're an incredible couple and a very powerful pairing.
Ola: We couldn't fault her last night - sometimes her posture or technique isn't always on point, but that Charleston was so exceptional. We were shocked when she didn't get a perfect score.
Rose and Giovanni thrilled fans with their sassy Samba
Ola: We saw Rose and Giovanni tackle the Samba last night - typically a very difficult dance. We studied the intricacies and timing of the Samba for years before perfecting it, so for the celebrities to nail it in a week is so tricky.
James: Another example of undermarking in my opinion. Rose had a real natural feel for the style and I actually think that the judges underplayed how good it was. It was really quite exceptional - Shirley was the only judge who noted how natural her movement was.
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I think she did so well with such a difficult dance. Especially given her hearing impairment, the syncopated timing of a Samba is notoriously tricky. We go from whole beats and quarter beats, so I think she did amazingly.
Ola: Looking at the opposite end of the leaderboard, Adam and Katya were back with the lowest score after being in the bottom two last week. He could be in trouble tonight, don't you agree?
James: It was okay, I'm not sure his dance was anything special. Even though we had high expectations for Adam earlier in the competition because he looks good, he's young and full of charisma, I still think he looks a little awkward when he dances.
Could Adam and Katya's Jive land them in the bottom two?
Ola: Adam was bottom of the leaderboard, he was in the bottom two last week, and his Jive didn't blow us away this week… so it does seem likely that he'll be facing the dance-off again.
James: Someone else who could be in trouble is Tilly. Again, I find it hard to warm to Tilly and Nikita as a couple. I really like her dancing, but I wonder if they're best suited for each other as a pairing.
Ola: Take AJ and Kai, Tom and Amy, Sara and Aljaz - they all have that banter and rapport that is relatable and likeable, but with Tilly and Nikita I think we find it harder to relate to their relationship.
James: I do also feel that Tilly is slightly too tall for Nikita, I don't think it was a clever pairing heightwise.
It's always better in Latin and Ballroom when the man is a few inches taller than the woman. Take AJ and Kai, for example, Kai's height allows him to look more powerful than her at times, and in the ballroom, that difference between leader and follower is quite important.
Tom and Amy tackled a challenging Pasodoble
Ola: We saw Tom Fletcher getting 10s with his Pasodoble, which we were surprised by. There were elements of the dance that were fantastic, but I don't think it deserved that score!
James: I love them as a couple, but that bright costume wasn't my favourite, nor was the music. I love a classical Pasodoble, but felt like that particular piece of music was quite circus-like.
For me, it was a little bit soft and balletic rather than a powerful, masculine dance. When we think of a dance worthy of a 10, we think of AJ's Charleston, Rose's Tango from last week, and John and Johannes' Pasodoble from Week Three, but I wouldn't necessarily consider Tom's dance to be up there.
Speaking of overmarking, I thought Sara and Aljaz were totally overmarked. There was lots of gapping, her head and posture were way too far left and at times it looked like she was struggling to keep up with Aljaz, but the judges didn't seem to pick up on that at all...
Ola: What we do love about Sara though, is her passion for Strictly and enthusiasm for the show and dancing with Aljaz. They have such a likeable bond with each other - and actually, I think the public can see that too, irrelevant of what her dancing is like.
James: I agree, I think with Strictly that can sometimes be more important than the dancing itself.
Ola: Rhys' performance last night was our favourite of his so far - but we didn't expect it to be. Given he has so much energy, I thought that paired with a fast Quickstep was going to be a disaster, but it was actually very well executed.
James: I would love to have his energy and enthusiasm but he never manages to control it properly, however, last night changed that. I've slated him week on week, but I thought it was really sharp and clean. The dance was go, go, go, and it suited him! In the past, we haven't seen him be able to create strength and resistance in his movement, but he nailed it this week.
Rhys and Nancy took to the floor with a beautiful Quickstep
Ola: Out of everyone on that show, we think he could improve the most. He has the potential to go all the way to the final, but I wonder if the public will keep him in the competition long enough for him to get there.
James: I don't think he's final material just yet, but I agree he potentially could be.
Ola: Dan really surprised you last night, James! Do you think he's one of the competition's dark horses?
James: I just think he brought something different to the show last night. I really wasn't sure what the style was and I've never been a fan of Couple's Choice - but honestly, as a total non-dancer I was so impressed with him. I would vote for him because I loved the performance side of it and I really do like seeing how much he's improved week on week.
I would say though that Dan and Sara's days on the show could be numbered from now… there's no denying they're weakest dancers technically speaking, so I'm not sure how much their popularity with the public will last as we near the second half of the series.
Dan and Nadiya performed a showstopping Couple's Choice
Ola: Let's talk about John and Johannes' Rumba. We're yet to see a Rumba that's blown us away this series, but John and Johannes' dance last night was something special, don't you agree?
James: It didn't blow me away, but I do agree it was a special moment on Strictly for them. Being the first all-male pairing, tackling a dance of love must have been challenging and they did it beautifully. I'm sure when Johannes was choreographing it, and even when John was learning the dance - they probably felt that it was breaking the boundaries of Strictly, and may have even received a mixed reaction from the public - but I thought it was brilliant.
Ola: I thought Johannes did an incredible job with the routine, he kept it really simple and basic which is what I love in a Rumba - but they had the emotion in it, the face touching, the closeness, and that is what the dance is about.
James: It was just a beautiful understated Rumba, and a moment on the show which everybody has been waiting for. Up until now, John and Johannes haven't had that connection on the show yet. I enjoyed it.
John and Johannes' incredible Rumba left fans emotional
Ola: And let's not forget nailing that style of dance can be so difficult with your celebrity - it does depend on their personality and your chemistry with them.
James: True. Sometimes you're paired with someone and it's like dancing with a plank of wood, but other times you'll be paired with a celebrity that is so responsive to your touch, your look and your emotion, that it does become easier to teach!
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