Sunday, 13 December 2015

All Bright on the night

Week 12: Top 5 Perform (Semi-Final) - 12 December 2015

Last week! It was musicals week. This basically meant it was the same as every other week except with the addition of more prop dancers. Anita and Gleb hit the bottom of the leaderboard and the judges put Helen and Aljaz in second-to-bottom place and then whined that they ended up in the dance-off because of this and it wasn’t faaaaaaair and the Radio Times did its annual article asking if ‘shock’ dance-offs like that meant the judges should have all the power. The power that put Helen in the bottom two in the first place I swear to god. [Sweet Jesus, that article. Of all the things that are wrong with the format of this show, "allowing the public to vote for people" is really not one of them. - Steve]

Tonight! We are reminded of everybody’s journeys: Anita learning to dance for the first time, Katie being good at ballroom but not so much Latin, Georgia being a special little princess, Jay being a total woobie and Kellie very much looking forward to having some sleep at some point thank you.

Cue credits! There are lions in the background of Oti and Antony’s shot. Lions!

Tess and Claudia enter, accompanied by Gleb and Anton. Daly dress watch: black, with a sort of glitzy top that looks a little bit boxy, although the shape of the skirt is nice. What Winkleman’s wearing: black again, with one shoulder in a vest and one shoulder in a sleeve. Both of these outfits are ‘almost but not quite’ type affairs. Still, I suspect Tess isn’t going to perfectly match the scenery like she did last week.

The judges wander on and if you think their attempts at doing ‘The Strictly’ had got more lacklustre as the series has gone on, tonight they’re not even pretending. Only Craig makes any attempt to dance and even that is with a giggle and a ‘fuck this, who cares’ shrug when he sees no-one else bothering. Such a tone to set for the rest of the evening! [We should've noticed the warning signs and got out while we still could. - Steve] Our contestants enter: Kellie and Kevin; Anita and Gleb; Katie and Anton; Georgia and Giovanni; Jay and Aliona. Kellie is really putting her energy into the theme tune jig. Everybody else: not so much.

The first couple of the evening are Katie and Anton. Their VT focuses on how "Katie" [i.e. Anton] can’t believe she’s in the semifinals and how she feels intimidated by the Charleston because everybody else has done well. The training footage doesn’t bode well, as neither of them appear to be into it and keep fluffing their moves. She then watches some superimposed messages from viewers on a tablet wishing her well. She appears to be a favourite amongst grandmotherly types.

They are dancing the Charleston to ‘Too Damn Hot’ and the lighting is comprised of really nice blues and yellows. See, I’m trying to say something nice about it. It doesn’t start out too badly, but it very quickly starts to fall apart. It’s incredibly sloppy and it looks under-rehearsed (the joys of two-dance week). Katie’s arms in particular are giving it nothing except a feeling of not really caring. It isn’t quite as bad as a certain judge’s comments and marks will claim, but it’s pretty sloppy and clumsy and all of the lifts and transitions are executed quite poorly. Then towards the end the two of them get out of time with one another and the whole thing falls to pieces. They just about manage to style it that it’s meant to look that way, because drunken messes are part of their charm but overall, it’s not a great result and they may as well have gone for the samba if they were going to embarrass themselves, it would have been more spectacular.

Tess welcomes the singers, Dave Arch, and the orchestra and goes over to the judges. Len says the song was hot and they looked great, but the lifts were clumsy, the dance wasn’t slick and they looked out of their comfort zones. The audience boo and Len says ‘it’s the semi-final, we praise everyone!’ I love how this show is now so blatant about the way the scoring and comments work being nothing to do with the dances and all to do with their position in the schedule. Bruno says it was ‘Loosey Goosey’ and it should be better in the quarter-finals and then is reminded that this is the semi-finals. Anton says ‘don’t take being in the semi-final away from me now!’ We get a cut to Harry Judd in the audience looking very disapproving. Craig says it was stiff looking with no swivel, the kicks were out of time and they need to hope their next dance is perfect because that dance won’t get them into the final. Darcey says it was charming at the start, but they need to follow that through until the end and she faded as the dance went on and they lost stamina and went out of sync with each other.

Up in the Clauditorium, everyone welcomes them with sympathy and Katie says she didn’t think it was that bad, but then she wasn’t watching it, she was dancing it. We are reminded that Katie loves ballroom and she says she does, but she’s loved everything. Scores: four, seven, seven, seven for a total of 25. Katie and Anton both look floored by the four. Anton asks if they can get Donny Osmond on the phone. Tee hee. [I'm inclined to think the four was too harsh, but the sevens were way too generous. So nobody marked this dance correctly, well done everyone. - Steve]

Because it’s two dance week, Claudia makes a joke that she is going to read the terms and conditions twice, but she doesn’t follow through and she begs ‘fire me’ and Tess pleads ‘never’. Aww.  Such a love between these two.  It’s much nicer than when Tess had to grimace her way through sexual harassment every week. [I notice Tess doesn't dare to tempt anyone to fire her. - Steve]

Jay and Aliona are second and in the so-called death slot. He says that he felt ‘wicked’ in musicals week last week. Wrong musical, Jay. They also get some good luck messages from a more diverse range of ages, everyone from kids to pensioners.

They are dancing the Viennese waltz to ‘Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?’ because the ghost of Bryan Adams is apparently all over this series for some reason.  It is basically the same contemporary dance you tend to get in a rumba, with a couple of in-hold spins around the floor as a slight nod to the genre. It’s pretty and lovely and everything, but it’s nothing to do with the dance it’s meant to be-or at least, very little. Still, it’s testament to Aliona knowing what she’s got to work with and trying to play to Jay’s strengths so I can’t entirely blame her for it.

Jay says it’s been difficult learning two dances, but they’re quite different and that’s helped him keep them separate in his mind. All this time, he and Tess are holding hands, how sweet. Bruno says he loves the atmosphere and the turns and the way Jay’s arms flow, although he thought it could have done with more drive. Craig loved the contemporary dance opening and the use of pirouettes. He thought it was simple and effective, though Jay could work more on his top line, but he thought the storyline felt more like Aliona had dumped him (dear God) because he was pulling faces and looked miserable throughout. Tess says that he’s saving his performance breakthrough for the Charleston. Ha! Darcey says she disagrees with Craig and says she could feel the romance between them from the start because the dance was incredibly lyrical. She says sometimes, because this technique is so good, he does look a little bit uncomfortable but it was a very nice performance overall. Len says he’s in a bit of a pickle although he doesn’t want to be. He loved the start and the use of fleckerls, but he’s going to say something that is ‘not being nasty’, which is that Jay has to close his feet more.  The audience boo and Len snaps that he is passionate about getting the right people into the final. Yes, because Jay is totally the one in danger of not getting there rather than the only one whose place is pretty much guaranteed. Note the lack of ‘purity of dance’ criticisms here, they might come in handy later for a bit of grumbling about the judges’ comments.  Just a hunch.

In the Clauditorium, Jay says they do focus on technique and performance in rehearsals and Claudia says he seems to have enjoyed the Viennese waltz even more than the Charleston. Jay says he really enjoys romance. Aliona then drapes herself over him. These two are really not helping with those rumours, are they? Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. Jay makes unconvincing ‘whoa’ noises at those scores, pretending to be impressed, and it’s about the best acting he’s done so far this series.

The third couple of the evening are Georgia and Giovanni. Georgia’s hair has been madly curled which makes her look like a long lost McQueen sister. [I keep getting "Katy Perry" from her lately, personally. - Steve] Their VT features Georgia crying a lot because she didn’t want to be in the bottom two and then she is really really ill with pharyngitis. Her doctor says she can’t get thrown around the floor too much and this makes the rehearsals for their cha-cha-cha quite difficult. Poor Georgia. She really does appear very upset in this VT, although I guess that will probably keep her out of the bottom two. Her supporters seem to be fairly diverse, although not as much as Jay’s.

Their cha-cha-cha is to 'I Will Survive' and Georgia is in red with lace all up for the sides whilst Giovanni’s red shirt is entirely open with his chest out. It’s disco Latin, so it plays out as most other disco Latin numbers do. If you’re going to turn any genre of Latin dance into disco, however, it may as well be cha-cha-cha, which is the boringest of all the Latins. The under-rehearsal and Georgia’s illness have clearly taken their toll on this performance, which is incredibly rote and workmanlike. It’s very sloppy in the arm work and feels like it’s something they’re doing because they have to get through it, rather than something they are enjoying. Of course, it’s Georgia, so even a bad dance from her looks okay, but I think they’re probably happy to get that over and done with.

Tess asks Georgia if she is feeling better and Georgia says no, not really. Bless. Craig says she lost hip action (which gets boos) but he adored it and loved the disco feel. Craig does seem to have a weird soft spot for disco Latin, doesn’t he? Darcey says she loves the relationship between them and liked that they were playing with each other in the dance although the moves needed to have more straightness in the finishing. Len said it lacked some polish because they’d had limited time to rehearse, and the hip action and the straight legs weren’t really there, but she did well considering how ill she’s been. Bruno said he is all shaken and stirred and calls her a sexy little thing and 'yeah there’s a tiny thing of getting the movement right, but she had a great time, so who cares'?

In the Clauditorium, Giovanni says they only finished that dance yesterday. Claudia asks Georgia which she prefers, ballroom or Latin and Georgia says she likes them both, but she does have a soft spot for ballroom. Scores: eight, eight, eight, nine for a total of 33.

The fourth couple are Anita and Gleb. Anita laughs in her VT that she thought she did all right last week until Craig started having a go at her feet. As with all this week's VTs, she is shown having difficulty in training and being driven on by public support. Having seen this four times in a row, I’m getting slightly bored of the storyline. Anita’s fan base is much smaller than the others’, and consists of teenagers upwards.

They are dancing the foxtrot to 'New York, New York' and the dance opens with Anita lying on a grand piano, whilst Gleb swishes on with a black Panama hat, which he tips to Anita, before doing a little dance with the hat dropped over his eyes. See - Gleb is so good he can dance without watching! Eventually, he remembers that he is supposed to be dancing with Anita, and turns back to lift her off the piano. They begin their hold with some lovely swirls, but as the dance progresses, it suffers a little from the fact that it is a song that really requires a ritzy, American smooth style production, rather than a foxtrot - and so it starts to lean into that genre a bit more than it maybe should. Anita also has some very weird ribbons around her wrists that keep getting in her face whenever she lifts her arms up and that’s a bit distracting. [They really were awful. I'm not sure if full arm-hankies would have been less disruptive or more, but at least they would have left Anita looking less like she was trapped in a really crap ghost train. - Steve] There’s a lovely split in the middle, and then there’s a wonderful bits where Gleb swishes her around the floor and manages to get her up without it collapsing [phrasing - Steve] as it has done in so many other routines where that’s been tried. I think that’s probably one of their best ballroom routines so far, but it would have been better without the silly arm ribbons and with a bit less faffing about at the start.

Darcey says it was lovely, but Anita needs to watch her top line, especially when she’s in hold, and she doesn’t hold her own top line as well as she could. However, she could see that Anita was really thinking about the extension and everything. Len says when she got into hold, there were all the things he loved in the footwork, but then it sort of turned into an American smooth and she forgot all about staying in hold. I think that’s the fault of the music more than anything. Now, I have absolutely no problem with the judges criticising the choreography: I don’t mind that they are judging a pair rather than the celebrity (I know some people would wish that they only judge the celebrity though). However, I do take issue when they blame the celebrity for the choreography. If you’re going to criticise that, then directs the criticism at the professional dancer (or the third party choreographer)-it’s not as if the celebrity can do anything to help that, is it? Len said it was a lovely American Smooth, but he was looking for more than a foxtrot. Okay, Len, get pernickety over this one but ignore the waft-o-rama that was Jay’s “Viennese waltz”. Whatever. [Foxtrots are boring, I say making them more like American smooths can only be a good thing. - Steve] Bruno says she really understood the spirit of the dance. He says he sometimes been a bit hard on her because of the flow of the movements, but he thought tonight this was correct aside from a few problems with the top line and overall he thought it was wonderful. Craig says he was slightly more impressed than last week and he liked the foxtrot part, but worried when they go into the American smooth, because when she extends, she doesn’t fully do so. Darcey wrinkles her nose up at this, given that it’s effectively the reverse of her comments. Craig says there are problems when she tries to do things is too ambitious and thinks that she can’t do it, she shouldn’t. I don’t think Gleb takes that as an answer, Craig. Anyway, Craig still loved it apparently.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says she is trying so hard and she’s really moved that the public saved her and Anita says yes and she was really thinking about her footwork and she’s happy that the judges give her good advice and she was really delighted to dance to New York on Frank Sinatra’s birthday. Scores: seven (even though Craig 'loved' it), eight, eight, nine for a total of 32. I guess that’s four dances in a row where we are expecting to see a second dance breakthrough. Let’s see if Kellie and Kevin can make it a clean sweep of underwhelming routines/scores, shall we?

Kellie’s VT sees her wearing a very sparkly Christmas tree adorned jumper and saying that she loved last week where her character Linda Carter was basically the one dancing, let’s face it. Unsurprisingly, Kellie and Kevin are struggling in their training with being raunchy in the rumba. I can’t see it as an atmosphere that comes naturally to either of them. Their fan base is quite small according to the footage, with even fewer supporters than Anita and Gleb, although they also appeal to a range of ages.

Their rumba is to 'Songbird' and features Kellie in sparkly green, and Kevin in sparkly navy and I don’t think the two outfits go very well together, which suggests that perhaps one of them was a bit of a last-minute change from wardrobe. Technically, this is not bad as a rumba. The movements are there and it flows quite well. However, Kevin does look like he’s about to burst out laughing throughout the whole thing, which does undermine it somewhat. Then there’s the bits where Kellie leans forward and her legs start wobbling and it looks like she’s about to fall over because she’s not balanced properly. Fortunately, that seems to be the only slip-up in what is otherwise a fairly straightforward but generally well danced rumba. Kellie looks a bit disappointed at the end, I guess she felt that the slipup might have cost her.

Tess says Len seems to have either loved or hated rumbas the series and Len says there were a lot of elements that he loved like a spiral and the forward and back basics. He liked the way Kellie settled into her hip and that the routine had light and shade and different dynamics within it. He notes the wobble and he says he wished it hadn’t been there because otherwise he wouldn’t have found anything wrong with it. Bruno calls it prim, proper and correct - something which mother (/Brendan) would have approved. He says it looks more like a brother and sister dance. Kevin says he’d never dance like that with his sister and we cut to Joanne laughing and Karen looking slightly scared, whilst Oti pulls a face of ‘my god don’t start the incest jokes, what kind of show have I got myself into, I thought this was going to be prim and proper British uptight clean fun and not only do I have to put up with a Bruno, a Gleb and Tess, you’re now putting those unsavoury images in my mind.’

Bruno continues that Kellie lost balance on one of her extensions and he thought her arms could have been more stretched, but the content was generally fantastic and it was a good performance. Craig says he can tell that she worked really hard on the dance and he thought it was technically brilliant - at which the audience whoop loudly - and thinks it was almost perfect. Darcey says she wasn’t expecting that because she could see that Kellie has worked really hard, and she thought it was really lyrical and that Kellie caressed the floor. She says it was a shame about the mistake, but that shows how difficult the dance is. She would have liked a bit more chemistry, because she’s a sucker for showmance, even though these two are the two least likely.

As they run up to the Clauditorium, Kellie says she is annoyed with herself and Kevin reassures her that she is brilliant. They arrive to see Brendan and Aljaž on bent knees waiting to welcome her. What most of us wouldn’t give et cetera et cetera. Kellie keeps saying that she could kick herself for making the mistake and Claudia says she achieved the rare feat of actually enjoying the rumba. Kellie says she loves learning new things and thinks the dance is really challenging, even though she isn't a man. Scores: nine, eight, nine, eight for a total of 34. Kellie explodes at the nine from Craig, as well she might. Claudia says the other celebrities and pros are shouting ‘under marked!’

Were halfway through two dance week now and here we have a half-time leaderboard:

Jay and Aliona 34
Kellie and Kevin 34
Georgia and Giovanni 33
Anita and Gleb 32
Katie and Anton 25

So there's quite a discrepancy there between Katie and Anton and the rest of the pack, but that, of course, only leaves room for a redemption storyline with the waltz and Anton possibly getting his first tens, whilst there is room for everybody else to improve in the second dance as well.

I am intrigued at the outfits the female pros are wearing in the background, by the way. Whilst the male pros all seem relatively subdued, the women are all in incredibly bright colours: Janette is in a bright pinky-purple fringed hotpants and cropped top getup, whilst Natalie is in a flamenco-on-acid pink dress, Kristina is in gold sequins, whilst Karen and Joanne are both in bright blue.  They all look a bit like they've been rummaging in the cast-off-costumes bin.

Tess and Claudia preview Jay coming up with the TARDIS, and Claudia gets into the TARDIS and disappears-by which, I mean closes the door-they don’t do the dematerialisation effect or anything. She then comes out in a dolphin costume where she says to Tess that in the future, the dolphins are in charge, so Tess needs to get one of those to learn to fit in. What makes it art is that you can’t see Claudia’s eyes for most of this and then she dips them to cheekily grin out at us at the end of the joke.

We are now at our annual judges standing room of lights and debating the contestants moment. Katie’s journey is, unsurprisingly, that "Katie" is good at ballroom but bad at Latin (it’s worth remembering at this point, that their quickstep was a complete car crash, whilst their rumba was surprisingly good), that Anton has got a good dancer et cetera et cetera move along here there is nothing to learn from this. [Also I'm not sure their claim that she has made a mistake every single week is necessarily borne out by the comments they made at the time. - Steve]

They are dancing the waltz to 'O Mio Babbino Caro' and it begins with lovely moody blue and purple lighting, a constellation of stars as the backdrop and dry ice all over the place, as Katie plays the part of an old wino sitting on a park bench stashing her bottle underneath a lovely wistful woman, sitting around, waiting for someone to sweep her off her feet. She looks lovely in pink and gold sparkles and her facial expressions are very Katie-serene with that light touch of a little too much Pinot Noir. The atmosphere of the dances all lovely and romantic, and the lighting couldn’t really be more flattering. However, it’s a shame that the dancing is not the semi-final ballroom wow we were all expecting. There are a couple of bits where it looks like Katie actually treads on Anton’s feet and her arms don’t seem to be especially polished, whilst her top line feels too relaxed and upright. It’s okay, but it’s kind of hard to get excited about the waltz at this stage in the competition. I would have much preferred to see their Samba, if only for the entertainment potential-and given that Anton is allegedly the king of ballroom, I would have liked to see the waltz pulled out a lot earlier, so they could flourish with a Viennese or an American smooth at this stage. Given that this is the dance that’s been all primed for an Anton getting his first 10 moment, it falls a bit flat.

Bruno says it’s very difficult to get a waltz right because of all the phrasing and emotion you have to get across and it has to be perfect at this stage, but it wasn’t. He says there were moments of imbalance and she lost the arch in her back. He says that he’s Italian and Puccini is God for him, and he needed everything to be perfect, when you are dancing to music that is a work of genius you aim to high and he says she fell short. Craig says he totally disagrees with Bruno and the audience cheer really loudly. He says he really enjoyed it and thinks Katie redeemed herself. He says there was a balance issue where she had to pinch Anton’s arm to stay up, but well done. Darcey says she did ‘such a better job’ but her top line is a little upright and she needed to lean out more concerned because the waltz is so slow, you need great control, and unfortunately-at which point the audience boo already-it went wrong in places, where she ended up on the wrong foot that then set up the next section wrong. He says it’s breaking his heart as well as probably breaking hers, but it was a bit unstable. Bruno says you can’t make it up, you can only judge what you see.

Katie and Anton both look a little bit disappointed that this and they slope off to the Clauditorium looking somewhat defeated and Katie looks like she’s about to burst into tears. Awww. Claudia reminds them that Craig liked it and he doesn’t even like that much and Katie says she’s always liked Craig and says she’s loved every minute and every dance even the ones that have been hard and she feels that she could kick herself when she makes mistake and spoils it for Anton. Anton says he’s not that interested in what goes on down below it’s all up top. [Poor Mrs Anton. - Steve] Yes, Anton, the top line that she was criticised for. Scores: eight, nine, seven, seven for a total of 31. Claudia says it’s higher than the Charleston. Anton says they should have had more smoke, up to their necks. I don’t normally like Anton humour, but he seems to be quite good form tonight.

The judges comments on Jay’s journey are that he is the last man standing, a musical dancer, that jive, a rubbish comedown the week after, no facial expression yada yada yada. Hey, guess what? He has the Charleston next the dance that is renowned for being everyone’s performance breakthrough and the obvious natural climax to Jay’s journey (beyond winning of course).

The theming for this dance is so bloody odd. It is ostensibly based on Doctor Who - which seems a bit superfluous once the series has ended - where was this earlier on as a ratings-boosting bit of in-house promotion? There isn’t even a guest actor from the show in the audience. You could at least have got Colin Baker, he'll turn up to anything. Aliona plays the part of generic companion-except, she looks nothing like any companion we’ve ever had, in a white bobbed wig and flasher mac. Jay, meanwhile, is what somebody who’s never actually watched Doctor Who would imagine The Doctor would look like: he has a scarf! And a bowtie! And, yeah, some other things too. He is meant to be, I guess, a hybrid of Tom Baker and Matt Smith, but also wearing stuff that isn’t really like any of them, such as a fawn jacket, waistcoat and trousers combo. However, the issue with this theme is less that it is completely inauthentic in terms of its reference to Doctor Who, more that it bears absolutely no relation to the story of the dance, which, once the two of them have done a little bit of mucking about in the TARDIS and gone back in time to the 1920s, reverts to a fairly normal Charleston. So much for Aliona’s claims that this would be a contemporary take on it - it’s as traditional as they come, pretty much. That’s not to say it isn’t energetic, fun and well danced, because it is all of those things. Jay kind of smiles in a couple of places, which I guess is the performance breakthrough we needed? He’s really light on his feet though, and this is probably not a surprise, given that this is the dance most like the jive and something he clearly excels at. His jumps and kicks look effortless but are quite complicated I think. Then there’s a bit where he full on drops Aliona in a lift and picks her up again, but fortunately does so without disrupting the dance too much.

The audience whoop and his bandmates in The Wanted are in the audience clapping. One of them seems more into it than the other. Tess asks Craig if he got the smile he wanted and Craig says Jay, with a long pause, that the audience boo at, because they haven’t yet learned what a Craig fake-out is. Of course, he thought it was brilliant and the whole room erupts in cheers. He says he doesn’t know whether Jay meant to drop Aliona and Aliona says yes, something she sticks to throughout the comments. I’m assuming she’s joking, because it didn’t look neat enough to be rehearsed, but at one point she does seem to sincerely believe it, so who knows? Darcey says the drop was odd, but he picked up well. We then get a cut to the pros in the Clauditorium and Natalie giving Joanne some sort of knowing look about an in-joke that I only wish we were party to. I know the BBC is cutting back on its red button footage, but what I would give for the red button to be used to pick up the backstage banter in the Clauditorium. It would be make way more entertaining than when they used to get Karen Hardy talking to some third place bloke from six series previous. Len says he loved that when things fell apart they just got on and picked it up and he thought it was a fantastic routine overall. Bruno, in Dalek voice, goes ‘Exhilarate! Exhilarate!’ and calls Jay the Time Lord of the dance. He says he thought the drop looked like it was meant to be there - Aliona says it was and gives him a high five.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia pretends that she thought Craig wouldn’t do his big old Craig fake out. Jay says the Charleston is cool. Claudia says 'who knew?' Jay says 'everyone'. Ha. Scores: nine, nine, nine, 10 for a total of 37. I guess that was originally destined for a 40 until the drop. It’s kind of feels a little odd that we haven’t had one this series yet, and that Craig has refused to pick up his 10 paddle for something completely random and underwhelming as he's usually done by this point.

We are now back with Georgia and Giovanni and reminded that they were in the dance off last week. The judges comments about them focus on her being young (Bruno even calls her a little girl at one point - she’s almost 25 Bruno), an all-rounder, having a breakthrough Charleston, having slightly crappy shoulders and neck.

This week they are dancing the Viennese waltz. I was convinced they’d already done this about 8 million times, but it turns out that they’ve only done it once before, in their American smooth. I guess it’s partly because she’s worn so many classic ballroom dresses that it feels like she’s been doing those kinds of dances all series. They are dancing to 'Runaway' by The Corrs and Georgia is not in a classical ballroom dress for a change, rather a pretty white sundress, whilst Giovanni is in pale grey and white. The story is that they are sweethearts who meet up under a little tree and then leave the props behind to do a pretty but generic and Viennese waltz. I know most people seem to really like this dance, but it’s one of my least favourite genres, partly because the only interesting thing about it is all the spins and the spins make me feel a bit sick. Generally, this is well performed, but there is a stutter where it looks like she’s about to trip over his feet about halfway through. Fortunately, they don’t let that bother them too much and then they just spin a lot, sway a bit, smile plenty and it’s all very sweet and slightly dull.

The audience love it, because they are really trying to love everything this evening, despite it all being somewhat underwhelming.  Darcey calls her a breath of fresh air and Georgia beams at that. Darcey says that she kept the frame despite all the spins and we cut to Georgia’s boyfriend standing alone clapping. I’m sure that was not meant to look as hilarious as it actually did. [Maybe he's a distant relative of Arlene's? - Steve] Len says it was full of content, rotation and lyrical movement and he is full of admiration for her. Bruno says they are adorable sweethearts, swept away by romance and as a Viennese waltz, it was ‘right on the money, honey’, and if they are in the dance off tomorrow, he will do it in speedos. Given that is probably a fair chance that they could be, I wouldn’t make that bet if I were you, Bruno. Craig says he could watch her dance all night. Georgia gets hysterical as well you might given that there was no comment there about any room for improvement at all. However, is that enough for a clean sweep?

In the Clauditorium, Claudia mentions that Georgia’s boyfriend was standing and clapping alone, and we cut to him looking really embarrassed. Georgia says she loved both of her dancers, although she feels a bit more comfortable in ballroom, because she spent lots of time watching YouTube footage of Joanne Clifton. Who knew we had another fangirl romance going on in this show? Scores: nine, ten (at which Georgia screams, and then clutches her throat, remembering how much it hurts), nine, 10 for a total of 38. Giovanni hugs Georgia very tight and lifts her into the air. Georgia then bursts into tears and Claudia asks if she’s crying and she says no and promptly stops. Hee.

The penultimate couple are Anita and Gleb and Tess says that they have been both top and bottom of the leaderboard. Except top. #justiceforteamglita The judges’ comments are about how she works hard, throws everything into it, takes feedback on board and they lie that she was crap at the beginning and has that improved, rather than being someone who’s been pretty good all the way along, but she is not a natural dancer, and has poor footwork. However, they think her strengths outshine her weaknesses and her performance is really good.

Anita and Gleb are doing the salsa this week and they have come as some sort of futuristic cheerleader-cum-air steward-cum-majorette hybrids in bright blue and whites, with glitter all over Anita’s face. They are dancing to ‘Feel This Moment’ and it is completely, utterly insane. It is a show dance in all but name, with just a few hip wiggles as a nod to the salsa. Instead, it’s a whirlwind of lifts, jumps, hip-hop poses, armography a plenty, random kicks, a bit where Gleb looks like he’s punching Anita in the stomach, a crackers bit where he tips her upside down, pokes his head through her legs and moves her around slowly, backflips from Anita, lots of punching and kicking. It’s frenetic, entertaining and ridiculous and I love it even though it’s got about as much salsa in it as a Sunday dinner. It ends with Gleb tipping Anita pretty much upside down and the two of them jumping for joy when she's the right way up.

The audience go completely wild for it, I bet it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch that live. If that’s Gleb’s salsa, I can only imagine what he has prepared for show dance in the final, should he get there. I’m kind of leaning towards him probably going in the opposite direction and doing something wafting and contemporary, yet full of Gleb specials and ridiculousness. Dear God, I absolutely love Gleb. And Anita, but that was always a given before the series started. Tess says that Anita is really brave to do all those lifts and points at Gleb’s chest and asks if he’s still allergic to buttons.  Put the fingers away, Daly.

Len says they threw everything into it, but dance is a balance and if you do too much of one thing you lose a bit of something else, and this dance lost a bit of the salsa because of it being very athletic and full on. I like how you’ve got all purity of dance of this one, Len, when we had barely any Viennese waltz in Jay and Aliona’s performance. For some reason, it seems to be Gleb and Anita that are getting all of those rants from him this series. I guess Gleb is in the same position with Len that Aliona was a few years ago: a young upstart new pro who needs to be taught a few lessons from the Len School of hard knocks. [And I imagine Gleb's going to pay about as much attention as Aliona did. - Steve] Bruno says she was an amazing cheerleader who was thrown into place and into positions that he thought, under other circumstances, you could get arrested for. He appreciates what they did, but he thought there were some shaky moments and they lost the fluidity of the salsa somewhere. Gleb looks at him all ‘Who gives a fuck about the salsa?’ Craig calls her a brave woman and says it was like watching the Olympics rather than a salsa and he strangely really enjoyed it. Darcey asks how on earth she learned all that dancing in one week and says the routine was really complex, and most ladies would baulk at that and drop half of it. She says although it lost some of the salsa content, because-altogether now, the boys (or ‘guys’ tonight) are right-it was phenomenal.

Claudia says that it was extraordinary and more like a show dance and she asks Anita if she was scared of the lifts and Anita says there was no time for fear and she didn’t really have any choice because Gleb just made her do it. Scores: eight, eight, eight, eight, for a bullshit 32. I mean, sure, if you’re going to get all technical about it, it wasn’t much of a salsa, but there have been lots of other dances this series that didn’t resemble the thing they were meant to be, and that hasn’t stopped the judges giving them high marks. If that were Jay or Georgia, they would be rushing to shower it in tens. But then, they’ve been undermarking these two all series. I know that we are both unashamed stans here, so not really particularly objective, but it really does seem as though the judges have something against them - or possibly against Gleb. Claudia says if we don’t want Anita to go back to Countryfile just yet, we should vote. Claudia, have you not been watching all the VT’s where she was still presenting as well as doing this?

The final couple of the night are Kellie and Kevin and it feels like we’ve gone a marathon, as it inevitably does in two dance week. I would so rather we had an extra week in the series, and saved two dance week until the semi-final of four couples, before proceeding to a three couple final. That would also have the added benefit of others seeing the couples who got to the final dance every genre rather than missing one (I am, of course, issuing that they won’t be doing their missing routine in the final, as that’s not been how it’s played out the last few years). For info, the dances we have missed are:
  • Anton and Katie - samba
  • Kellie and Kevin - Argentine tango
  • Georgia and Giovanni - Argentine tango
  • Anita and Gleb - Viennese waltz
  • Jay and Aliona - samba
For what it’s worth, of those I would most have loved to see Anton and Katie doing the Samba for the hilarity, and Georgia and Giovanni doing the Argentine Tango for the technique (I believe they were meant to be doing that this week until she got ill and had to do the cha-cha-cha).

Anyway, back to Kellie and Kevin, and the judges’ comments note that they do well in the performance/fun heavy dances, but she needs to watch her top line sometimes. It feels like they have a lot less to say about this pairing than any of the others - maybe they are just as desperate to get two-dance week over and done with as we all are.

They are dancing the American smooth to 'Let’s face the music and dance' and almost immediately you can see why this was put in the pimp slot. Everything about it is set up to get the series' first 40: the perfect combination of music and genre, the Great Gatsby style art deco scenery and lighting, the two of them looking gorgeous in a ballgown and tails, Fred and Ginger style, the golden lighting, the two of them being slightly exaggerated performers as befits this style, the many, many lifts, including one really spectacular one where he keeps spinning her around, she steps on the floor with 1 foot and then gets whirled round again and this happens repeatedly - I’m sure there’s a proper technical term for this, but whatever it is, it looks really impressive. It’s fun, well danced, very traditional, very Kevin - and looks set to propel them to the top of the leaderboard, if not to the first perfect score of the series. It’s completely shameless in its plea for points, and is in no way a creative take on the dance, but it doesn’t always need to be when it’s executed so well. The whole thing erupts in a massive spin and a load of fireworks along with rapturous audience response. [I thought the staging looked very Mr Selfridge, and wondered if Kellie and Jay - or perhaps Kevin and Aliona - were having a secret TV theme week that they hadn't told anyone else about. - Steve]

Bruno says they have the Fred and Ginger legacy and he loved the cross-reference of the moves, which were taken from the films and Kevin smiles at this. Bruno says it was absolutely delicious, and Kevin and Kellie both be met this, as we cut to people in the audience who seem very happy-I’m sure were supposed to know who these are, but I don’t. Craig says they danced it absolutely beautifully, and there was a little shame, where they came down a little bit late for the final move, which would have set the whole thing off beautifully. Darcey says it had glamour, flair and all the Hollywood charm, with wonderful lists and side-by-sides. Len says as soon as Kellie stepped out, he knew he was gonna love it and that tonight is all about who deserves to get the final and they need to be there, even if the public hasn’t exactly been on their side all the way through.

They go up to the Clauditorium, where everyone is cheering to greet them and Claudia reminds Kellie that she wanted to wear a proper princess dress all series and Kellie says she loved the dress and had the best time doing the dance. Claudia tells us that Kellie has been starting work at 7am and rehearsing until midnight and therefore is running on nothing but fumes, but hey, what is family and rest when you have the magic of Strictly? Scores: nine, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39. That really had felt like it was going to be the first 40 of the series, and then… not. Still, it compels them to the top of the leaderboard and means it looks less likely that they will be in the dance off this week, although I think it could be absolutely anyone there except for Jay this time around. That semi-final leaderboard?

Kellie and Kevin 34+39 = 73
Jay and Aliona 34+37 = 71
Georgia and Giovanni 33+38 = 71
Anita and Gleb 32+32= 64
Katie and Anton 25+31 = 56

[I was out during the live show and when I went on Wikipedia on my way home to look at the results, I was very surprised to see Kellie at the top of the leaderboard and assumed it had been a massive rigathon to get Katie or Anita out. And then I watched the show and felt bad about that, because Kellie was far and away the best dancer tonight. Sorry Kellie, I shouldn't have doubted you. - Steve]

Claudia drags Dave Arch into the Clauditorium to declare the vote lines open and everyone plays fake instruments in the background, except for Brendan who just goes around a bit like Benedict Cumberbatch trying to photo bomb everyone, before picking up Giovanni and jumping around with him in his arms. [*slashfic* - Steve]

Tomorrow night! Somebody goes home, we learn who the finallists will be and we have a guest performance from Kylie and at last I won’t have to fast forward a guest performer this series. Join me then!

4 comments:

F a t i m a said...

"If you’re going to criticise [choreography], then direct the criticism at the professional dancer (or the third party choreographer)-it’s not as if the celebrity can do anything to help that, is it?"
Yes there is – say you are not going to do it. Isn't that what Ann Widdicombe did with Anton's Samba Rolls ? Had I been Anita then I would have told Gleb I would have happier doing something a bit more conventional

Rad said...

But given they have to work closely with their pro, it might cause frostiness in the relationship - and for every weird piece of choreogeraphy the judges hate, there's another one they froth over, so you can't always predict what response you'll get. The celeb shouldn't have to be the arbiters of whether or not a dance is genre-pure, that's expecting more expertise than they likely have.

F a t i m a said...

Yes you are right, but we all knew that that Salsa was going to bomb with Len, and we all knew he would have two votes in the dance-off. I'd have risked a bit of frostiness in order to deal with that.

Gerry Sheldon said...

I was absolutely flabbergasted by the sheer guts of Anita throwing herself into those Gleb tricks/lifts -- to hell with the "purity of the dance", she deserved two to three extra points per judge for that to overwhelm any subtractions for lack of salsa content!