The judggies again did their thang to the crescendo of the theme tune. Whilst Lord Len and Darcey didn’t take it seriously Bruno rolled back the years to his appearance in an Elton John video and Craig did some mincing and turns.
It was Craig that took the eye, black and white golf shoes, his suit tight, too small, his arm extensions short, too short. He needs to follow the line through to its finish! Craig has been the focus of some mild abuse this week, none more so than from the exiled James Jordan, desperate to be a juddge, but more chance of him being knighted. ‘When I get old and fat I want to dance just like Craig . . . But better ’ he tweeted. His twits, sorry tweets, flooded hyperspace thereafter, humility obviously not in the Jordan dictionary.
Kevin from Grimsby was 32 last week and as a treat for his birthday he was chauffeured, along with the sultry Frankie, back home to meet his mum and dad, fish and chips on the prom the dish of the day. As the cake was presented the shot of father and son was beautiful, the caption unwritten but saying, ‘before and after, me in thirty years’. They were identical except one of them had hair.
Away from the beaches of South Humberside KFG and Frankie opened the show with a Cha that she clearly had problems with, something that was not represented by the scoring, 32 points, too high, an inconsistent start, a trend that continued throughout the night, along with the audience giving standing ovations for nothing at all. Lenny called it loose. Not sure he liked being called that by the blonde hostess.
‘Call Me Maybe’ was the song that exposed Frankie, her frail technique, her pigeon toes, her mistakes and the lack of straightening of her legs. Truth be told the choreography didn’t give her the chance to dance simply, basics few and far between, flaws hidden behind shimmies and body rolls. It wasn’t KFG’s finest hour even though he looked super smart in shining blue. Her colours matched; she looked like a budgerigar.
KFG is engaged to Hottie Hauer and it seems that this week they both went to the school of bad choreography, Hottie’s Quick Step with Mark an appalling exposé of what should be a dance of grace, speed and funn. The track ‘Tiger Feet’ didn’t help, poor Les Gray, Mud’s lead singer, must have been turning in his Portuguese grave.
Mark and Hottie both wore white, an angels’ wedding, they looked great. Here is where the plaudits stop for the routine didn’t have one single Quick Step step. Not one. Yup, there were trots, scatter chassés, hopping, a lovely arabesque, jumping jacks, Charleston kicks, pendulums and Jive flicks, but not one basic. Oh, Antony Smith of Bristol, where are you when the world needs you the most? It somehow scored 29 points.
If my mum was on Strictly I would do all I could to be there to watch her and to support her, obviously hiding my jealousy well. But Judy’s boys were nowhere to be seen, giving the excuse of winning tennis matches. ‘I’m in the final, mother,’ said Andy. (He won, btw.) Lovely that he calls her mother.
The lads missed a treat. Firstly, she looked hot in a flaming red outfit, her partner Bugsy Malone, pin striped trousers and mafia jacket and tie. The song was ‘Jealousy’, no never heard of it, and the cupple acted away, Antony Smith of Bristol enticing Judy from her beau only to be thrown across the floor like a bowling ball, her not him. The strength was a little heavy, a strike inevitable. She regained her poise and dignity and did well not to collapse in a heap of laughter.
In hold Judy did well even moving her left hand back into position on the instruction of her partner. The tempo flowed as much as it could, the floor craft was fine, she made it through with typical determination, her rigidity her flaw. To finish she was left isolated on the stage and then, much to the surprise of all, she launched herself off the stage towards Bugsy. As we gasped he caught her in his cradling arms. And her lads missed it. 22 points is her best to date.
In the 19th century London costermongers were in the habit of decorating their clothes with mother of pearl buttons they found in the street. An orphan called Henry Croft adopted the style so that he was more noticeable in a crowd as he collected money for charity. Thus were born the Pearly Kings and Queens. I’d never heard of them before Simon and Kristina performed a Charleston dressed in the same get up, the seams of his waistcoat and her jacket glistening with white bling. He wore a flat cap, she a wig and cap also, ‘My Old Man Said Follow The Van’, the backdrop. Thank God it wasn’t that other cockney tripe, the Lambeff Walk. (Sorry Pat.)
Simon has rhythm, bags of timings, lots of time, and with Kristina fully clothed he had great funn swivelling away, smiling, enjoying. Her skirt was a bit short and tempting, though not enough to affect his stride. 31 points is his best yet erasing the memory of an uncomfortable Rumba. For some reason Chitty Chitty Bang Bang shared the stage with them.
It came from nowhere, an epiphanous moment, as Alison and Ali Ash danced the Samba to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious’. The housekeeper from Tom and Jerry. And the more I tried not to think of it this was the overriding image as Alison, dressed in black and yellow, like a giant Flake, attempted another party dance, having already done the Cha, the Jive and the racy Fox Trot.
27 points was her best yet for a routine that contained many basics, walks, whisks, voltas, runs, rolls, a corte jaca. But this was another Alison staple, funky, fun, rhythm, energy and engagement. Alas there was little single bounce and no double bounce. The result, dare I say, was a bit thin.
Some people are born to dance. Some have an inbred rhythm. Not many can’t learn. Enter Scotty and Joanne from Grimsby producing a Smooth that had more lumps than school semolina. He looked smart, nice white blazer, peachy pink waistcoat and tie, face the colour of an umpa lumpa following a visit to the spray tan booth, something I’ve never experienced personally though I’m told it’s a nightmare to get off the sheets.
They danced to the greatest song of 1983, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, and for that we prayed, a total eclipse. The juddgies were harsh, even brutal, only Darcey offering compassion using her staple lines, ‘improvement and effort’. The 15 points didn’t reflect this: Scotty is disintegrating in front of our eyes.
There are many types of Salsa, not Solsa, Tessa! Cuban, stampy, soulless, best left in Havana, New York, the smooth, slick style favoured by the cognoscenti, and then there is performance Salsa when the focus is on tricks rather than the dancing. Many of the pros don’t get Salsa, the fluency, the intimacy, the skill and height of the turn arm, the fact that the dance is predominantly performed in hold.
Enter Steve and Ola to ‘Jump in the Line’, a Harry Belafonte song from the King of Calyspo, he in black pants and a red top open to show his chest, short sleeves exhibiting the tree trunks that are his arms, she in a cocktail dress. With a knee slide to start, they shimmied for their lives, and then shimmied and shaked some more, Steve’s mouth agog, maybe sixteen bars in hold, a nice pretzel and some spaghetti arms working well.
And then came the tricks. A full round the world like he was throwing a doll, a lifted somersault, a splits through HER legs, amazing he could go that low, she is only ickle. The finale was a lift to his shoulders and a press to the ceiling, Steve throwing her up and catching her. Athletic, powerful, watchable, animalistic.
Pixie and Trent are a class apart in this show and thus they are juddged differently, the criteria harsher, the critiques more pinpoint. We all know she shouldn’t be there, especially against real novices, but unless she does a John Sargent she is here for the duration.
Their Rumba to ‘Stay With Me’ was exquisite, emotional and ethereal, Pixie dressed in purple like a Roman goddess, not god. She was stunning, beautiful, vulnerable, and her lines were and are outrageously good, a drag with her right leg pointing skywards the pick. The tale of this dance was the song and once again the guy didn’t get the girl, something that upset Pixie so much that she burst into tears at the end.
The pinpoint critiques attacked the lack of tension in her body, at her core. Lord Len, en pointe, remarked on the lack of Rumba basics and he was right. Though that isn’t her fault. That apart 32 points was their reward. Only.
Tim embraced his Paso fully, a complete matador’s uniform, gold braid down the sides, pink cummerbund, gold and silver cape, even a montera, the cap that made him look like a bellboy from the Waldorf Astoria. The other goddess awaited him, Natalie back to blonde, looking stunning in purples, pinks and golds.
Starting with thirty seconds of cape work, or wafting as it is commonly known, Tim did his manly best, on time, two drags the highlight though at times he allowed Natalie to lead her own turns. His appels were strong but the shaping and killer instinct were missing. With 18 points this was not ‘Simply the Best’, their choice of song, and the ensuing dance off with Mark ended with the gavel coming down on Tim’s dance adventure. Cupple of months with Natalie? Worth good money. His exit speech was graceful, dignified and laden with warmth.
Vicki Sue Robinson sang a disco song called ‘Turn the Beat Around’, written by the Jackson brothers, Gerald and Peter, in 1976, the song reprised 22 years later by Gloria Estefan, post-coach crash. This was the tune for another Salsa, Sunetra and Brendan choosing option 3, tricks and a few basics, something that didn’t really wow.
At the start he lifted her in a cartwheel and then to his shoulders, turning Sunetra, turning her around. Near the finish she ended like a swallow on his right shoulder. In between there were 24 bars in hold, some loop holes and a back pass. The rest of the filling was solo. You can’t take a dance seriously when the cupple skip around the floor and play the bongos. Reminded me of Robbie Savage at Wembley Arena. And that was bad. How did this score 27? At the end Brendan slid and dipped Sunetra only for the crotch of his pants to split in a significant fashion. His burgundy slacks were cast offs from last week and will now need repair. So too their confidence. Perhaps Brendan needs to go back to Salsa school?
Thom Evans has an older brother, Max, a fellow international player, now plying his trade with Castres in France. As luck would have it Castres were hosted by Harlequins in London on Friday night in the Champions Cup and Max was in the audience supporting Thom. Note to the Murrays . . .
When Thom appeared behind a flower stall dressed like Norman Wisdom meets George Formby you would have thought he was going to launch into ‘Who Will Buy’ from Oliver! But no, it was The Foundations ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ that the brilliant orchestra and singers went into, a beginners’ Le Roc track. You can imagine the surprise when he and Iveta started to Fox Trot. Well, I say start. For thirty seconds there was faff and then they decided to get in hold.
In hold Thom is commanding and he is becoming a clear contender in this contest. The forty-five seconds of dancing were smart; if only it had been doubled, with him in a suit and her in a gown. The end was more faff, bits solo, rock and roll accents, misplaced. A six from Craig told us he wasn’t sold. Three eights put this up there right with the top rank, 30 his total.
Two other contenders are Jake and Caroline, one asked to Jive, the other to Quick Step, both scoring 33, more than Pixie. Mmmmnnn.
Jake got Elvis, a souped up version of ‘All Shook Up’, fast and fierce, dynamic, matching his athletic fitness, nearly causing a fall as he exited some pivots. He recovered well. Jake is comfortable out of hold, fortunately, as most of this dance was solo. There were bars in hold, even five or six bars of basics, but the rest was flicks, walks and accents, the latter brilliantly selected by choreographer Janette. She is fast rising to the top of that league. Whether this was a Jive or not is another question.
Caroline got a song from Grease, ‘We Go Together’, this set in a fairground with a rocking horse, a hoopla and a giant teddy, a dancing bear, a phrase that means something else where I come from. Pasta got the tight pants, lavender in colour and they survived a full on, frantic yet accomplished routine, dance content spilling over the edge. She is a joy to watch, even though she has previous as a dance student. Again the judggies were picky, two mistakes, but Lord Len was purring with contentment. And weren’t we all.
To finish I hear that Craig is playing Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie next July and doing a tour that will last a year. Is that a resignation I hear? If so, I am not touring next year and am available.
October 20th 2014