Two of the female professionals have been in hot water with The Management at the BBC recently. No, not Aliona, back in the fold having nearly ranted herself into exile a cupple of years ago. Neither Hottie Hauer for cat fighting with Ola. Of course, it is Ola who is in trubble; she is a Jordan, driven, stubborn, outspoken. Her latest calendar (2016) has caused dismay. Having seen a glimpse of it it isn’t hard to wonder why.
The other naughty girl is the people’s champion, Kristina Rihanoff, guilty of appearing in the crowd at a recent live X Factor show. There is nothing particularly sinister in this in itself except it was at eight o’clock on a Sunday night just as the Strictly results show came to a close. How could she get from Elstree to the ITV studio so quickly and with a change of clothes?
Of course there is a myth to be busted here. The earth isn’t flat. There is no proof that Nessie has a leisurely swim chatting to the Tooth Fairy, Santa and Man Friday. You can’t actually see the Great Wall of China from Space, not without a very good telescope. So here goes, I’m sure you know anyway, the results show isn’t live on Sunday; it’s all filmed on Saturday, edited and cut and then shown at seven fifteen when everyone can luxuriate in the show. Except Kristina who preferred the hyped over singing on Channel Three. Why the Beeb continue with the pretence is anyone’s guess. If you look carefully enough on the Internet you can find out on Sunday morning who has left the show the night before.
Jezza has been riding his luck for a few weeks now. He has been bottom of the leader board three times (Carol four), his average is twenty, from Craig just 3.25, so it was always going to be a battle for him to make it to the magic week where the troupe toddle off to Blackpool. So no Tower Ballroom for Jezza more likely the Tower of London for whoever decided on his song choice on Saturday, ‘Going Underground’ by The Jam for a Quick Step, and for whoever chose the theme and all its stupidity and misplaced intent. 21 points could easily have been 12.
Jezza and Hottie were miners, him in a three piece suit & tie, no jacket required, Davey lamps, picks (picks they actually used in the routine!), and a pit truck reminiscent of something that you might find in an Indiana Jones movie. There is more chance of finding a pit open in this country than of finding any discernible steps in this routine. They ran a lot, in promenade, there were some limp scatter chassés, some gangly Charleston, and two basics, but not once did Jeremy grab his partner and pull her body to his and whoosh her round the floor. Why not? No idea. He did do a lock step but he was being pulled. Oh me, oh my, sigh. The song should have been that Bee Gees classic ‘Strictly Mining Disaster 2015’.
In the dance offff with Jezza was, of course, Jamelia, who else, her fourth go, 26 points putting her second from bottom. She must be prepared for the inevitable next week. Could be five and home.
There were two Sambas during the show and both had bizarre music, Jamelia dancing to ‘A Little Respect’ (Erasure) where the new singer (Antony) had a few wobbles of his own in the early bars. Big match nerves I guess. There were none from Jamelia as she was greeted by a geeky, Eugene type character bearing a rose, Tristan wearing toy spectacles and a shirt with a pink and white ruff down the middle. It matched her party frock. Her hair was up with a silver tiara, very Floella Benjamin.
Jamelia tried hard to capture the mood, she partied well, shaking her booty, upper and lower, but the Samba is about bounce not strutting and as a result her legs didn’t straighten enuff to convince the juddgies. The audience luvved it though. I spent much of the dance marvelling at the beauty of Tristan’s spare arm.
‘The two things I hate the most . . . are babies crying and hip hop,’ so sayeth Lord Len and who am I to disagree? Starting their Samba dressed like two oiks at a skateboard park, kaleidoscopic vomit on their tops, Kevin from Grimsby wearing a baseball cap back to front, like a junior Kranky, the augers were not good when they stood next to a six foot high boom box at the offset. Then the music began, ‘Boom! Shake the Room’, that Samba classic straight from the Copacabana Beach.
The routine itself was faultless. Kellie was strong in hold and in isolation. All the accents were spot on, her timing great, lines strong, feet precise, maybe a bit more bounce was needed, certainly less singing by the dancers, but this was the Marmite of the night. Did you, didn’t you? I didn’t. She scored 33. It was Samba Jim, but not as we know it.
I overheard a conversation between Craig and Bruno on Saturday afternoon. ‘Here we go,’ said the Aussie, ‘my plan is to use all the paddles from four to nine, no ten, darling, way too early in the show . . .’
‘But there are nine dancers and only six numbers?’
‘That’s okay, I’ll use the eight three times and the nine twice.’
There can be no other explanation for Jay receiving a six from Craig for his Fox Trot to ‘Lay Me Down’. Three eights made this thirty points, a mild shock to the McGuiness household.
At the start most folks were confused. Jay, dressed like a nineteenth century labourer, looked like he was stripped for a fight, shirt sleeves rolled up, jacket off. He kept his cravat on though. The confusion continued as his belle, cheaply sold off for 500 pesos last week (£34.23), succumbed to his charms, his head on her chest, followed by three sets of double turns (by her) and an emotional touching of the face, then a rope spin of sorts. So, how was this Rumba progressing? It was only after thirty five seconds, when they got in to hold, that we discovered that in fact it was a Fox Trot all along. Fancy getting that wrong?
In hold Jay flowed, toes in his feathers, soft and gentle. But just as we were heading towards thirty six he clipped his own heel and stumbled like Devon Lock (1956 Grand National) only to regather and finish with more Rumba, romance and poignancy. He has been caned for his lack of acting before now; perhaps he fears bearing all his emotion to his partner? Maybe it’s a dubble bluff? Maybe he already has?
There was a real Rumba, Katie and Anthony Smith of Bristol dancing to ‘Never Never Never’; no sign of any Fox Trot here. Katie wore a backless frock that split at the top of her legs, a tempting hem line to draw the voats from men aged forty to a hundred and voats they got, plenty to send Anthony to Blackpool for the first time in years. Hope he doesn’t get a nose bleed going that far north. He was dressed like the Milk Tray man.
This routine confounded all convention. It had steps. I know. Take a seat, have a cup of tea and I’ll fan you with this tea towel. Oh yeah, there was a fan, basics aplenty, a fallaway also known as an Aida, New Yorkers (more of that later), a head butt, nearly, promenade runs, pivots, a drag, and at one stage she straddled his left thigh, in a routine that was described as ‘not sensual and sweaty’. Could have fooled me. 31 points is her best for a month and much needed. A word of warning though. Beware judggies bearing gifts. ‘I luvved it . . . seven.’ ‘Fantastic . . . eight.’ Sometimes the goods in the box don’t match the label.
One of the amazing things we see every week is the headwear, normally of the ladies. I think the make-up team must have access to some magic dust. One week Anita is cropped, the next she has a mane. They might have struggled with Ainsley though.
The theme for Anita’s Quick Step to ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ was a blind date, she was late, Gleb standing on a bridge, high rise skyscrapers the back drop. Not sure if it was NYC (later) or Canary Wharf. Had a girl spotted him wearing a white suit, dubble breasted jacket with black frills and a black shirt and a Private Walker moustache she may have looked the other way. Fortunately for the routine Anita liked him and they began to dance.
And dance they did, the total antithesis of Jezza’s effort, full of proper conntnnt, hops, skips, bounces, scatters, heel flicks, pace, accuracy, emotion, everything you could think of. For a novice Anita’s grasp of the art is little short of astounding. Her balance, application and attitude make her a favourite with many. She dances cute. Who wouldn’t like that? 32 points says that the judggies did but had they watched it again they might have been tempted to score higher.
It was Pete’s turn to use the kids in the VT, two loveable scamps, cheering their dad on. Wonder how he managed to get them to do that? What he didn’t tell them was that Janette had appeared on the show ‘Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ and he had got her to dress in the same frock that Pete’s first wife wore on the big day. Juddge Aggie can vouch for it. Would’ve brought me out in a rash. Janette’s bodice was like a white lattice sausage roll, the remainder a homage to any Disney princess you can name.
When dry ice creates the special effect of smoke on the dance floor remember that it is there for a reason. Some would say to add ambience to this fairy tale of a Viennese Waltz. Others would say to hide the feet. For a third of the dance it didn’t matter as they did the longest intro ever. In the VW it is customary to use four bars or eight as an intro. Not thirty six.
Eventually the dancing began and what a pace they set to Cilla’s ‘You’re My World’. It was fast, some would say frenetic. But don’t panic, soon they let go and shaped a bit to grab a breath. At times they got in hold but not often, the routine full of swish and more of Janette’s smoke and mirrors. Lord Len likened it to an American Smooth (without the lifts). I would have liked to have likened it to a Viennese Waltz. Would have made my night.
Pete somehow got to 34 points, something that was matched by Helen and her Tango to ‘Hold Back the River’, the sixth misplaced song of the night. Not bad out of nine.
We know that Helen has pedigree and talent. And her acting helps her sell all her performances. She can cope with any choreography and this routine was great in spite of the music. She wore blood red, he wore a black jacketless suit where black leafs patterned the black beneath. Will have to get meself one of them. What we also know is that because of her background Helen’s legs can be too straight and this theme continued again this week. ‘Soften the knees,’ said one judddge. ‘Keep your knees bent,’ another. And that was just in this house. Maybe next week.
Which just leaves Georgia and Gigi who produced the best Charleston the show has ever seen, bar none, even though it was ‘only’ marked 39. Chris Hollins, Kimberley Walsh, Denise van Outen and Caroline Flack might have scored 40s in times gone by, people are always marked higher in the final, but nothing could touch Georgia’s spirit, energy and delivery, and ultimately her performance. And she had a lot to contend with.
Firstly, her outfit. She wore a hat for much of the dance. She also wore a wig, a wig that stayed in place as she dived vertically down Gigi’s back, more in a mo’. Her skirt was short and someone had cut it into ribbons. She still put it on though. Her top was backless, more glue and tape holding everything else in place. Just.
Secondly, the tune, a challenging, fast, unrelenting ‘Hot Honey Rag’ from the musical Chicago.
Thirdly, choreography that was inspiring, on the money, on the accents, en pointe.
Part of the choreography was a move that defied belief. She began straddling Gigi, facing him. Then he lifted her high, her body flat above his head. He let her go, her feet skyward, her head destined for the floor. But with control and trust she held on and lowered herself until her feet hit terra firma, her arms clinging to his thighs, her head elsewhere. Brave, daring and magnificent.
You could tell that she enjoyed it. We all did and everything is now teed up beautifully for next week’s extravaganza.
Which brings me back to New York City. There is a strong possibility that there will be no review next week because rather than go to Blackpool I have opted to search for Yveta Lukosiute and have a lesson at her New York Dance School. It will be the first weekend off in six seasons so please forgive me.
Normal service will be resumed the week after.
November 18th 2015