Week 11: Top 6 Results (Musicals Week) - 6 December 2015
We open with the promised performance of 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' from the West End cast of The Lion King. I must admit, I've never actually been to see this show (although I've always quite fancied it) so it's quite a thrill to see how all of the costumes and puppets and whatnot work to suggest the Pride Lands. With so many of the show's cast there, there isn't a lot for our professional dancers to do other than support them all in the background, but since we only get one of these visiting productions per series (if that) I'm not feeling too put out about it. (Plus Pasha and Anya actually get into the sightline this time, never let it be said I'm not easily pleased.)
Tess and Claudia emerge from behind the last surviving Lion King cast member and his enormous grassy costume. Tess is now wearing a red dress that flirts with the idea of being pink and is mostly fine apart from the weird banding going on at the top of her torso and shoulders, and Claudia is in a simple navy dress with more of those rivets she seems to really like at the moment. The judges make a slightly more low-key entrance, and Claudia teases an upcoming performance from Josh Groban as well as the return of Len's Lens.
But first, as ever, here's our recap of last night, hosted by Janette. In terms of actual new information: everyone is doing jazz hands backstage all time, like, all the time; Jay promises us "quite the transformation" as he takes on the role of a scruffy musician for this week's routine (hee); Georgia says that nobody can call who's going to be in the dance-off tonight and she just hopes it's not her (oops); Craig is convinced this will be the best night of the series; Greg the floor manager gives everyone high-tens; Anton hugs Katie tightly after their foxtrot and she giggles that she likes it when he's happy; Gleb consoles Anita that her routine was hard; Helen admits that she could have done a better job of her paso, and she wishes that she'd been able to do that for Aljaž; Georgia attempts to dance like a princess; Kellie and Kevin do a bit more "oom-pah-pah"-ing; and Jay pulls Aliona into an ILLEGAL LIFT, assuming it still counts if it happens after the routine has finished?
Tess is ready to put two couples out of their misery and confirm the worst fears of one more, so let's go: safe and definitely through to next week are Kellie and Kevin (who clearly weren't expecting to be safe and react appropriately vocally), and Jay and Aliona (who internalise it a little more but are still grateful nonetheless). The first couple in the dance-off is...Helen and Aljaž. Considering how on edge Helen was looking while she was waiting for the result, she actually looks sort of...relieved, now it's finally happened? I mean, she's clearly upset but she's been steeling herself for this moment since about week three, so I think on some level she's pleased to actually have somewhere for all that nervous energy to go at long last. [And given she was second from bottom on the leaderboard, it wasn't exactly unexpected, JUDGES - Rad]
Georgia/Giovanni, Katie/Anton and Anita/Gleb all look on with varying degrees of guilty and sympathy as Helen and Aljaž walk over to join Tess. Tess says that nobody saw this coming (I...kind of did?) and Helen says that she feels nervous, but she loves this dance, and she's so proud of Aljaž for choreographing such a brilliant routine for her. Craig tells Helen that she's going to get the opportunity to be better and correct her earlier mistakes - she's a brilliant dancer, and it's shocking to see her in the bottom two. After the judges ranked her...in the bottom two. [God, the judges being all 'how dare the public put you in the dance-off' when they bloody ranked her thus. Fuck off, all the judges - Rad] Strange, Craig didn't strike me as the type to be shocked that easily.
In an eerily deserted Clauditorium, Claudia is joined by Kellie and Kevin and Jay and Aliona. Kellie says that she really thought they were going to be in the dance-off because going into this evening they were the only couple left who had been there, and twice for that matter, so she's really excited. She's trying not to get too squealy about being a semi-finalist, but she is thrilled nonetheless. Claudia asks Kevin how he's going to find time to teach Kellie two routines given her current schedule, and Kevin shrugs while Kellie suggests they just won't sleep. At all. Oh blimey, the thought of a sleep-deprived and coffee-fuelled Kellie and Kevin in next week's show is all kinds of terrifying. MAKE TIME FOR SLEEP, YOU TWO. Jay has the Viennese waltz and the charleston next week, and says that he likes having two very different genres to do because he's less likely to mix them up. Heh. Claudia asks Aliona how much Jay has changed, and she says that he's still the same Jay, but he has just Grown As A Dancer. She should have just talked about his hair, I think.
After that, Josh Groban arrives to sing 'Over The Rainbow' from The Wizard Of Oz, and as much as I love Josh Groban as a guest on panel shows, I don't really care for his singing. Sorry. [Ditto. - Rad] Still, we get a lovely foxtrot from Anton and Joanne to accompany it, which I mostly enjoy even if I find it hard to accept these two as a dancing partnership, because I always think of Joanne as being about 12 and of Anton as being about 86.
Then it's up to the Clauditorium once more for the penultimate Len's Lens of the series. We open, inauspiciously, with some footage of Bruno and Darcey waving their arms around and smacking Len in the face, and then follow it up with Len railing against Craig for daring to suggest Jay's rumba wasn't 100 per cent perfect, and I notice for the first time how much Len sounds like Zippy when he's cross. Apparently the rant ended with Len exclaiming "go and have a shave!" and present-day (well, not that it's live, oh you know what I mean) Craig laughs because he didn't hear that the first time round. Len wants to review Jay's feet in his rumba, and shows us how he's going from the toe to the balls of his feet to completely flat, and Len tells us how he used to teach kids to do this by making them push matchsticks around the floor. Wild times. Darcey reviews Helen's paso doble, and Darcey says that she loves Helen's beautiful posture in ballroom, but she wanted more curving and more exaggeration in the paso doble. Then there's a montage of lovely ballroom hands from Georgia, Kellie and Katie, which Craig is very pleased to see, and for a last hurrah we move on to Kellie and Kevin bellowing 'Oom-Pah-Pah' along with the band while they were dancing. Mostly helpful work again this week, even if we topped-and-tailed it with a bit of silliness. Since I won't be around to say it next week, congratulations to Len's Lens on pulling off the most unexpected redemption edit of the year. I actively look forward to recapping it again next year and I never thought I'd be saying that.
Back to Tess and the cue cards of doom. The final two couples safely through to the semi-final are Anita and Gleb (shocked and very excited) and Katie and Anton (shocked and finding it inappropriate to celebrate under the circumstances), leaving Georgia and Giovanni as the other couple in the bottom two tonight. That's a shocker, and the audience's reaction confirms it. Tess asks Georgia if she's shocked, and Georgia says she's not because the standard is so amazing at this point and it's all very close now. She's just going to do her best. Bruno says he's completely shocked because she's an all-rounder, who's equally good in ballroom and latin [...but doesn't have the public appeal/storyline/popular pro of... well, pretty much anyone else - Rad] ; he says that the side extensions could have been a little better but this is like a tiny flaw on a diamond. Georgia wells up a bit and Tess coos "don't cry!" at her, which I can't imagine is very helpful.
Claudia sits with Katie and Anton and Anita and Gleb, and Katie is asked to do the whole "I never expected to get this far" thing. She duly complies, saying that she thought it would be "a little autumnal prance" and she "might get to the end of September if I was lucky". I mean, I'm all for modesty, Katie, but even Iwan Thomas was still here at the end of September. Katie frets that she doesn't know when she's going to have time to do her Christmas shopping, but she's extremely excited. Claudia reminds Anton that he's never had a 10 ever, but he's got two chances of getting one next week with a waltz and a charleston. Anton says that they're going to move into the training rooms to maximise their chances, and takes great delight in saying "semi-final" out loud. Anita tells Claudia that she "absolutely" assumed she would be in the dance-off, and she thanks everyone who voted for her because she's having the best time learning to dance with Gleb.
After a quick trail for It Takes Two, it's time for the dance-off. Georgia says that it's been wonderful to dance on Strictly - particularly getting a chance to be Belle and do Disney - and Giovanni tells her that she was amazing and she just needs to do it again like she did it "last night". Helen shouts "good luck!" very sportingly as they make their way to their marks, and then tells Claudia that she's mostly concerned about letting Aljaž down because he's brilliant, but she knows that if she does go home then it means her friend Georgia, who would be a very worthy winner, gets to stay, so she can't be too sad about it. Aww. Aljaž says that Helen is a perfect partner who has pushed him to his limits every week, and she's been a joy to work with.
There's a slight hitch in the opening to Georgia's foxtrot when she doesn't quite get across the floor in time to do the kiss on Giovanni's cheek as he looks into the "mirror", so Pre-Recorded Mirror Georgia gets there before Georgia does. So that's a bit awks, but the rest of it is fairly flawless, and Georgia does a good job of following those side extensions through right to their natural finish just like Bruno asked her to. Then there's presumably a lengthy break in filming while the poor backing dancers rush to get out of those cumbersome costumes and into their French revolutionary outfits, and then it's time for Helen and Aljaž to repeat their paso. Helen, like Georgia, picks up on everything she was told, sorting out her balance problems and doing her best to arch where she wasn't arching before. I think there may be one moment where she briefly trips over Aljaž's foot, but it's hard to tell and if it does happen it barely even registers.
Time to go over to the judges and see which of these frontrunners won't be returning next week: Craig opens by sniffily saying that it wasn't the judges that put them here, it was the public (actually, it was the judges who put Helen in the bottom two, Craig, the public just didn't lift her out of it) and he thinks Helen rectified absolutely everything, but nonetheless he votes to save Georgia and Giovanni. Darcey wishes she didn't have to choose between them because they've both been so good, but she would like to save Georgia and Giovanni for delivering technically and understanding the style so well. Bruno thinks both of their performances were wonderful and powerful in their own way, and they should not be in this position, but he has to save the couple who added that extra polish the second time around, and since Georgia got her lines perfectly he votes to save her. So that's it: Helen and Aljaž are out. Len's opinion is sought, and he says he agrees completely.
Helen says she's had the most amazing time - Aljaž has been a fantastic teacher and friend, and she's taking away a "brilliant group of mates" who she wants to see lots in the future and she "flipping loves them". Heh. So very Helen to the very end. Aljaž jokes that they're just going to go into training as usual on Monday like nothing's changed, and Helen suggests that they try breakdancing this week. Aljaž says that Helen has amazed him with her professionalism every week and it's been a pure joy.
Helen and Aljaž have their final dance to 'Tomorrow' from Annie, and then Kellie wraps herself around Helen and the rest of the cast swoops in as Helen starts tearing up and OH GOD I HATE IT WHEN WE GET TO THE POINT WHERE I LIKE EVERYONE LEFT AND THE ELIMINATIONS ARE ALWAYS SO PAINFUL. Ahem. In the post-mortem, Jay says that it was so sad to see Helen go, not just because she was a wonderful dancer but because she was someone he always looked forward to seeing. Georgia tries to spin her dance-off as a "happy ever after" in light of her survival, Kellie squeals about being a semi-finalist, Gleb vows that Anita will not touch the floor in her salsa and Anita suggests he could just balance her on one finger for the whole routine (careful! Family show!), Katie is still in disbelief about being in the semi-final and Anton says he wasn't sure that it really existed.
So that's it. Such a shame to lose Helen, but it was going to be a wrench whoever went this week and I don't care what the "purity of dahnce" people on Digital Spy say, everyone left is great and talented [except Anton (in Latin) - Rad]. Join Rad for the semi-final next week as we go through the emotional ringer all over again and probably lose either Anita or Katie. Waaaaaah.