Back in the day all the lads in the village – there were no girls that hung around with us, unheard of – we used to spend most of October foraging for bits of timber, trees, old doors, cupboards, wardrobes, the derelict houses stripped, anything that would burn, so that we could build the village bonfire. There were unwritten rules. The farmer would supply the field, the lads would do the work and the village would celebrate as the fire burned, the jacket potatoes were served in foil with butter, there was parkin and, if we were really lucky, a few fireworks. We always had our own bangers that we used to throw at each other in games of chicken. If only our parents knew.
Bonfire night was last Thursday but by Saturday it was a fest gone, as if it never happened. Of course, there was the odd splash of light, the rumble of tanks, the smell of gun smoke, but then again The Mead isn’t far away. In Strictly World it was left to the dancing to provide the bangs and the booms, the sparklers and the rockets, and that is what happened as the Leader Board took on a lovely looking shape, three amateurs in the top four, Carol eventually exiled back to the world of weather. The standard rose beautifully as the talent jostled for position like runners hearing the bell. We are but half way through but you can see the eyes focused on Christmas and the Glitter Ball.
Carol scored a massive 17 points dancing an American Smooth to ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’. In truth it was more lumpy than smooth as she walked and sauntered from one phase to another, Pasta girding his loins in preparation for the standard three lifts. One was easy because she stood on a step higher than him; he just eased her down. The second was perilous as he braced his back and cradled her. The third was probably her favourite. Can’t say why, you’ll have to watch it and pause it at the relevant spot. Suffice to say that Carol has luvved being manhandled by last year’s winner for over two months. She has also endeared herself to the whole nation with her charm and grace. That said she won’t be missed.
This week Jezza aired an interview with his hero Elvis Costello for his Radio 2 show. I’m guessing he was more nervous for that than he will be for what must be his last bow, his final hurrah, his place on the charabanc to Blackpool taken by another. There were hero-worship nerves when he chatted with Elvis. What if he thinks I’m fawning? Or a buffoon? Or if he turns out to be a prat? And breaks my heart? Jezza approached the interview like he does his dancing. It was sensitive, touching and worth the listen. Great stuff.
Jezza is always worth a watch. Throughout the years we have seen many levels of the ridiculous – Superman, human cannonballs, people on wires – but can there be anything to match his Tango where he started the routine, and finished it, on a horse, Trigger, a real horse, the one that should have pulled Jamelia’s coach a fortnight ago? The song, that Tango classic ‘Go West’ (The Village People not The Pet Shop Boys), was apt as Karen dressed like the stereotypical beautiful squaw. Pick Pocahontas or Sacajawea.
When you think that you’ve seen it all just tune in to a dance show and see a cowboy – Woody from Toy Story meets Roy Rogers – doing a Tango, hat, neckerchief, bright red shirt, tasselled shoulders, stars and striped effect. In fairness to Jezza he has embraced the nutty factor but one wonders, with a different teacher, whether he could actually have been taught to dance a little more? And maybe a taller partner would have helped, her chest rubbing against his lower abdomen must have been a distraction or two.
For the minute or so that they actually danced Jezza proved more than capable, no Hopalong Cassidy, his frame strong, steps sharp and accurate. Had he been dressed in a more traditional and elegant garb maybe he would have scored more than 21, a point up on his average. He may have benefited too from some modelling, talking to a dancer about the feelings that the Tango expresses. It is more than the serious journalist face or the man who will defend his family and loved ones. It’s about seduction and certainty and we need to see that.
Battling Jezza to stay in the show will be Katie and Jamelia, 26 and 28 points, good scores but the low end now that the others are starting their charge, Katie luvving the Quick Step and Jamelia taking a relaxing Viennese Waltz.
Dressed in a boater and ankle length white nightie Katie impressed with her cane work, shared by Anthony Smith of Bristol, suitably attired for his attack on Wall Street, just a six mile tram ride from ‘42nd Street’, their song of choice. He was a mix of Dick Van Dyke and Gordon Gekko.
The one thing that performers know is that it doesn’t matter how well the dress rehearsal goes it’s the live show that people see. You may have got it right a hundred times behind closed doors but once out on the floor when the pressure is on life is different, mistakes are magnified, each teeter and wobble highlighted, each facial expression telling its own story whether you want it to or not. Katie was challenged by the routine, its connttnnt, its speed, and the ambition led to a cupple of mistakes. Rectification was tuff, the frustration clear for everyone to see. She has to up the ante now; her Tango and Viennese seem a long time ago now and what has followed hasn’t been universally show stopping.
One maxim that is often used in TV is don’t work with animals or kids. You can add to that guitars and cases something that amazingly got in the way during Jamelia’s dance to ‘Trubble’ (Ray La Montagne) because Tristan spent the first twenty five seconds doing his other Saturday job, busking, something he normally restricts to O’Connell Street (Dublin).
You get obstructions on the dance floor. It might be a beginner who has stopped to check his feet, an improver reading the routine, an intermediate tripping on the third pivot, or an old git bullying the mere mortals thinking that the floor belongs just to him. Guitars and cases are unusual. All said though this was a proper VW, lots of style, grace, flow, lovely Fleckerl, and they both looked stunning, her in a poppy red frock, him in matching pin stripes. This was her best ballroom dance of the series.
But first a word about Adele. Lighten up love. Any chance of a happy song?
The reason I mention it is that it was her new release that Helen and Ali-Ash tried to Rumba to, ‘Hello’, not is it me you’re looking for. The production was great, the lines beautiful, the mood astonishing . . . there just weren’t any steps. If in doubt throw in a drag. They did two. But there wasn’t a sign of a basic something that Lord Len picked up on even remonstrating with ‘Sunshine’ from Australia on the left of the panel. It is fine to look good and to create beautiful lines; these are two beautiful people, but this is a dance not an erotic presentation. He needs Velcro for his shirt now that the buttons have gone. She is too straight and needs to bend her knees more. Perhaps if she does she thinks she might have to call the midwife?
It was Poppy Day on Sunday, a day for reflection, for thanks and to pray for hope. Who then plays the nostalgia card? Yup, you guessed it, Kellie ‘me grandad was in the war and I miss my son’ Bright. The GBP spotted the link and duly dumped her into the dance offff, something that even Jezza’s horse would have won against Carol, a clear message for her to change. ‘Love Ain’t Here Anymore’ was the song. Says it all. Kellie didn’t like it but at the end of the day the GBP have a say in almost everything.
The Waltz itself was sumptuous, Kellie playing the housewife sifting through boxes prior to a move, the usual household stuff, Dr Dre earphones, Light Sabres, photo of the dog (I lied about that one). Her outfit, extended skirt and blouse, worked, skinny jeans on him didn’t. At one stage I thought she was going to burst into Shake and Vac, and there is no doubt that she is a talent. Three heel turns, beautiful timing, great control, nice pivots, oh, and another drag, filled the minute that they danced. Now she has to forget the begging for voats and dance.
Two 34s sparkled like, er, sparklers, Jay dancing the first Argentine Tango of the series, that’s Argentine not Argenteen, and Anita a Jive danced wearing blue shorts, a red sleeveless top, a blue Alice band and white daps. Never been a great fan of dancing in daps, bit chavvy.
The Argentine Tango hails from Buenos Aires, a dance for the dockers in the queue for the ladies of the night. It is a dance of passion, flair, emotion, flicks and kicks, where the docker (gaucho) struts and pushes his way towards his favoured outcome. And this dance had everything except one missing ingredient, the delivery to make us believe. It was almost as if Jay was a playboy not a docker, five hundred pesos guaranteeing him his catch, his suite at the Alvear Palace Hotel ready and primed, the champagne on ice.
Jay is a smart dancer. His feet are beautifully placed, sharp, precise and clean. His partner, on the other hand, is far from clean. Another five hundred pesos to swap places? She leant into him seductively, there was a roundabout, she rondéd high, she rondéd low, she wrapped her legs around him. Maybe there was no need for the money? She showed off her lines and she ended up on her back . . . on his shoulder as he turned six times before the end. Sizzling. The song was ‘Diferente’. That’s different.
In homage to Judgge Alice who won Strictly a long time ago Anita and Gleb danced to her hit ‘The Boy Does Nothing’. (Editor’s note: if he does nothing ditch the lemon?) The theme was an audition for a porn movie, Gleb pretending to be a cleaner, wearing blue overalls, also white daps and a matching McEnroe head band. And they both had mops. And they both mopped the floor for thirty-five seconds before things got serious.
The Jive is pacey and racy, a young man’s dance, or a young girl’s. It is high octane and every now and again a rest is choreographed before, vroom, you’re off again. The rest came when Gleb did some press ups or he slid between her feet polishing the floor. Nearly dunn. Anita kept going at a lick and thoroughly endeared herself to the crowd. She smiled, flicked, bounced and even survived an assault when Gleb tried to bunny hop over her head, face on and failed, flattening her as he straddled her shoulders. I’m sure there’s a technical term for this move. She held on till he flicked her upright with his heel. All in a day’s work. Terrific.
The problem with a song like ‘Volare’ is that if you start it from the beginning it takes thirty seconds to hit the beat. So, as Georgia had her cup of tea and Gigi served, we went for a walk around the block until they decided to dance. It is a serious failing in the structure of the show, a third of the allotted time abused, in turn abusing the GBP’s patience (Cicero 63BC).
Which is a shame because this Samba, 35 points, was full on, full of pace and connttnt, Voltas, runs, Bota Fogos, shimmies, turns, an occasional wobble, great funn and chemistry. Last week Georgia said that her Tango was the best night of her life. This matched it. If she can manage or contain her wobbles her sexiness and application will see her well into December.
To meet her there will be the man behind the most stunning dance of the series so far, 38, including the first Ten from Len.
‘Pop Video’ Pete fell lucky when he was given the Charleston, surely a great opportunity to make another pop video, this one a genuine excuse, and it was a chance he took with gusto and relish, ‘Do Your Thing’ from Basement Jaxx the backdrop.
Dressed in pin striped trousers, a white blouse, braces and black and white shoes, Pete and Janette wore matching outfits. They were like brother and sister, her cropped hair particularly fetching. When he looked in the mirror there she was and they matched perfectly, a theme that continued throughout as they flicked and bounced at a great tempo.
What was endearing was that Janette, obviously a female rugby player in her day, included some moves that were taken from the training paddock. We used to do core strengthening by standing back to back and lifting up someone of a similar size and shape by locking arms and bending forwards. She did that with Pete and she flipped over the other side. She also bounced up high as Pete tried to kick her with a straight right foot. Another rugby speciality. She did a full ‘round the world’ jumping over his back just like a rugby player being shrugged from a tackle. They finished when Pete stood behind her, grabbed her hips and launched her skywards like a lifter in a lineout landing handily on his shoulders. He spun and she fell landing in a splits. Not a rugby move. Oh, how the audience craved Carol and Pasta to do that one. It was quirky, smart and not much short of brilliant, worthy of the score.
One word of caution though. In seven shows Pete has opened once, been the penultimate twice and closed once. The producers are using him as a selling tool which is all well and good; save the most marketable till last or give them a premium slot. It does though give him an unfair advantage in terms of gaining voats.
Time for some balance Nikki Parsnips.
November 13th 2015