There are many interpretations and applications of the word shock. It might be when you put your finger in the wrong part of a plug socket or when the world moves involuntarily. It could be when you check your bank balance or when someone does an act of random kindness. A pal of mine, Spud, was in Bangkok a long time ago and he spent a cupple of hours snogging a Thai beauty. When Spud offered the opportunity to go back to his room the beauty asked the immortal question, ‘are you gay then?’ Now that was a shock. He had been snogging a bloke.
The shock this weekend was that there was a dance off and that its participants were Laura and Tameka, 30 and 28, half way up a leader board where 27 points was third from bottom, something unheard of in Week Three.
It was Movies Week at Elstree where once again the wacky met the quirky, where the artistry met the talent and where dancing skill was matched by the production and make up, exceptional. Of course there were musical mismatches but you can’t win ’em all, can you?
Tameka was hit by one of the mismatches, a Tango to ‘The Heat is On’, from Beverley Hills Cop 1, 11, 111 and 1V, dressed in the black outfit of the Los Angeles Police Department, Foster Grant sunglasses included. Tameka won an Inside Soap Award this week for Funniest Female – on Eastenders! – but she won nothing with this gimmick of a dance. To be fair to her it wasn’t her fault but shorn of other Tangos, real Tangos, she was burdened with this pastiche and much as she tried, and Gorka too, it didn’t work. She had posture issues that improved in the dance off but she was crying out for a traditional dance not slapstick. Last week I said that Tameka was the surprise package, none more so than this weekend as she exited the show. She left the dance off brandishing her knee in a brace, a not so subtle message to Anastacia and the producers.
Salsa is a dance full of sauciness and raunch, lust and desire, and that is exactly what Laura produced once she came down from a very high swing – how did she get up there? – and when she had removed her floor length skirt ruff, a ruff that transformed itself into a fluffy bunny tail that might be useful in her auditions for work at Stringfellow’s. Although there were too many isolations and the transitions into the lifts were clunky (she is tall and hard to lift), her ‘go for it’ attitude and the ‘sex on a stick’ approach did it for me. Apparently the song ‘The Rhythm of the Night’ is from the film Moulin Rouge? I just thought that Debarge did well with it in the hit parade and it was in the movie The Last Dragon’?
As far as I know Salsa didn’t originate in Bombay or Mumbai. I don’t even know if there are any Salsa clubs in down town Delhi. How then were we lumbered with a Bollywood dance to ‘Jai Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire? The world is still scratching its head. When was this ever on the Strictly curriculum? No worries if it is but if a dance is supposed to be Salsa, Salsa it is.
Will and Hottie appeared dressed as extras from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, barefoot and all, continuing the movie theme and they produced a great dance, terrific, with timing, lifts and synchronicity. But what it lacked was Salsa. When critiqued by Lord Len Will responded as he had to Simon Cowell all those years ago, claiming there were 24 groups of Salsa 8 in the routine. Firstly, Will, Salsa is danced in bars of four which means that the routine should have, in real calculation, contained 48 bars. It didn’t, at best 12. Secondly, Will, keep yer trap shut. I think the direct instruction was ‘turn up, step up and shut up’ from Lord Len, Will’s protest as out of place as the routine and Lord Len docked them a point though they still managed 31.
The protest came to nought anyway as by Wednesday morning Will had left the show citing anxiety. We weren’t expecting that. More next week.
For some reason Salsa and Tango get a weekly hammering.
‘Ooh, the theme to The Magic Roundabout? Great Tango that.’
‘Not as good as Star Wars for Salsa’. You get the drift.
How apt then that Naga was asked to Tango to the music from ‘Mission Impossible’. Both Naga and Pasta descended into the arena on wires, like jewel thieves, both in black, her, a mix of Cat Woman and Halle ‘Jinx’ Berry looking stunning, their aim a billion dollar diamond. Real, obviously. But those pesky wires wouldn’t unclip and for fifteen seconds it looked like Pasta was trying to undress her, fumbling with her belt. Not a great start. Thereafter it was core and frame issues that dominated nearly as much as her lack of confidence and Pasta’s spatula hands, not mentioned by anyone. Could’ve been bananas out there. Naga got her first mop roll of the series and also a piggy back to finish. Classic Tango. The jewel was safe. Naga isn’t. Second from bottom with 25 leaves her perilously close to danger.
That said it is the combination of voats and scores that count and given who ended up in the dance off, and using Juddge Lewis’s authentic stats, no one is safe.
The dancer that the producers tried to stitch up this week was Ed. How? By giving him the Samba, DBS a common malady, death by Samba, the most technical of all Latin dances, the first of the series given to the least talented dancer. They didn’t reckon with Ed though, a man of considerable desire and determination, keen to give it a great shot, not to waste a wonderful opportunity. He is lapping this up.
Team Make-Up did a great job: bright yellow two piece suit, black and white shoes, tie to match, his face green like Jim Carrey in The Mask. Oddly they went for a black hat, quickly discarded, rather than the yellow fedora featured in the movie. In contrast Katya wore lime as the song ‘Cuban Pete’ began. There wasn’t a lot of Samba content, maybe half a Bota Fogo, a skippy Volta and a basic where the heels didn’t touch the ground but this was a Samba-Charleston if ever there was one, something that Ed does nicely. He was brilliant on his own, his timing impeccable, he didn’t miss a beat and he knows where the camera is and plays to it. Here is someone who loves to perform, not dance necessarily. Katya‘s ten turns whilst crouching in front of Ed were the highlight of the finish. 24 is Ed’s best score yet.
The bottom end of the leader board was littered with quality and high scores, three 27s hovered together, Rob with a Charleston, Lesley with a Quick Step and Anastacia with a Viennese Waltz danced at such a geriatric pace I nearly developed narcolep . . . zzzz.
A few years ago there was a film made based on the Hanna Barbera cartoon series The Flintstones. A film critic reviewed it and gave the recommendation . . . yabberdabberdon’t. Well, you couldn’t say that about Rob who danced to the eponymous theme tune, ‘Meet the . . . ‘, and he appeared on the dance floor wearing hair and a sabre toothed prehistoric leopard skin top and carrying a car made from stones and Rubble. Strong fella, apart from nearly dropping Oksana on the first lift. He gawped his way through the routine with energy and elan clearly embracing the moment even throwing in a Fragapane style hand spring. There was no chance of a Barney here except for between Lord Len and Craig who, at one stage, were squabbling over Rob’s talents. True to form Rob spiked up, ‘Sorry Oksana, Strictly curse!’ Bam Bam!
In 1948 Fred Astaire and Judy Garland made a movie called Easter Parade where a nightclub performer hires a young and inexperienced chorus girl to dance with on the premise of making his ex-partner jealous and showing how anyone can make it. Bring on Lesley and Antony Smith of Bristol dressed as tramps, black teeth and beard, and that was just her. So, Lesley, the young and inexperienced . . .
Well, nearly. Apart from looking like scruffs from Stokes Croft this dance fizzed along with a mix of Quick Step, Charleston and slapstick, a fine balance, and Lesley coped brilliantly with the pace, the complexity; she skipped around the floor like a young lamb, engaging with the music, ‘A Cupple of Swells’, and captivating the audience. It was funn to see Antony with the hair of a Beatle.
Anastacia captivated too, everyone bought it, nearly, except for the pace. It was a beautiful Waltz, romantic, sweet, simple and delivered with aplomb. There was a reverse Fleckerl, as easy as a natural, it was understated. It was just too slow. I know she has been injured but she’s 48 not 88 and the Viennese is normally twice this fast. Their song was ‘A Thousand Years’ from the film Twilight, which is about how long it took to get through this routine.
If you were a child would you allow your mum to wear a leotard, tights and knee length boots on national telly at the age of 41? (She has a birthday next month). Trying to re-live her youth Louise, this week with crinkly hair, performed a Cha to ‘Flashdance…What a Feeling’, a movie about a girl trying to get into the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory starring Jennifer Beals, a hottie from Chicago, who was in the year below me at school. Jennifer’s dance was solo, raunchy and included some break dancing that was actually performed by a man.
There is one thing that they didn’t teach Louise at Italia Conti and that was how to straighten her legs in the Cha. Dancing with bent knees spoilt what was a funky effort, her confidence brimming as her sharp toes flicked the air, as her spotting and arm extensions took your eyes away from those legs when ultimately the closing thought was ‘I like a strong thigh’. As the routine ended Louise took a seat and stretched as a homage to the scene in the movie when Jennifer did the first ever Ice Bucket challenge. Louise was drowned with glittery ticker tape, more’s the pity.
She scored 31 and so too did Daisy dancing a Quick Step to ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ from Mary Poppins. When I heard the first line I quickly went into anaphylactic shock. A spoonful of sugar makes a diabetic go for a hypo and straight for the pills and the nearest loo. For Type 1 sufferers this is even worse news. Who, in this anti-diabetic age had the bonkersness to add that to the play list?
Daisy played the part of the nanny and it was enuff to make you regress on the spot, her formal long grey skirt and white blouse adding to the tease. Ali-Ash looked like a twenties New Yorker with a head too small for his hat, a waistcoat and brown check trousers combo that made you look for his golf cart. Instead of a drive and a chip we were treated to a skip and a chasse, a hop and a bounce, a jump and a twirl, a pivot not a divot, in a neat and precise Quick Step fitting for the occasion.
At the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta Muhammad Ali launched an arrow aflame to light the Olympic torch. If you watch carefully the arrow missed and the Games were still lit up like a beacon on the Cornish coast. Fast forward to Greg, dressed like Robin Hood (Prince of Thieves) at the start of his Smooth to ‘Everything I do (I Do it For You)’ that spent 52 weeks at the top of the charts in 1991, Bryan Adams’ perfect retirement plan. Greg repeated the bow and arrow stunt to begin his routine.
I should say that Juddge Aggie is not a fan of our Greg, he is a little self-absorbed. That may be true but he is a genuine fella, talented, bit of an ego, that’s ok, he is a sportsman, and he is developing nicely as the series moves on. This Smooth was exactly that though why he wore brown and not green is a mystery. And Maid Marion looked worthy of saving even though Robin Hood was an outlaw. Don’t dames always like a bad guy? Greg wasn’t bad at all though that spare arm and pigeon toes are becoming like RSI. His frame improves every week, there is confidence, the pivots are strong, his intent is obvious. See you at Christmas young man.
Ore cried like a baby on national telly. Joanne from Grimsby joined him. Tess wiped an eye; they’d all been chopping onions and seen England against Malta. No, they weren’t tears of exasperation as Ore produced another shock, they were tears of delight, Ore dancing to ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ in a dark formal suit, JFG dressed like a canary.
Apart from not shaving this was a dance full of sophistication and delight, light feet, clever use of an umbrella, a one handed catch thereof, great timing and a brilliant appearance by the lamp post, integral to the movie. What we needed more of, in spite of the routine being brilliantly choreographed, was more bang, a stunning lift or two instead of the two semi lifts that did add to the charm. A cupple of lifts might have tipped a ten out of the bag. Or the addition of some rain . . .
The fella who could have eight 10s already produced another show stopper, a mouth-watering Paso to ‘The Train/El Sombrero Blanco’ taken from The Mask of Zorro, the judggies edging upwards now, 36, keen not to score him too high too early and condemn him to the top every week. Every week.
Danny Mac Pro soared during this dance in more ways than one. Dressed all in black he was lowered to the floor swinging from a giant candelabra with one hand, his faced masked so we didn’t know it was him. Who is that guy? He took off his cloak, did a smidgen of cape work and then he was off, strong, assertive, holding his shape, using the natural pauses, flowing through with majesty. Lord Len called him the gay blade but I can confirm that four others put their hand up for that badge.
Meanwhile Oti took part clad in blood red and she purred as he eased through jettees en tournant and even a Coup de Pique (flick with a chasse). It had tempo, it was slick, it was a fine moment. Another outlaw, Don Diego de la Vega. Don’t dames always like a bad guy?
The competition heats up. Sports star Fragapane made her statement and was joint top following a brilliant Charleston to ‘You Give a Little Love’ from the film Bugsy Malone, a film that Cloudier and AJ (Aubrey James) would star in if it were to be made tomorrow. AJ is clearly having the time of his life relishing the show and the opportunity. So too the Bristolian gymnast.
Set in the twenties his greased hair was as slick as his suit, Cloudier wearing a little sky blue number that gave her limbs freedom, freedom to swivel and to kick, to cartwheel, him too, to back flip, not him, and to increase her tempo along with the music. It got faster like a record moving from 33, to 45, to 78 rpm and she went with it with ease. Of course the routine ended with a custard pie in the face, her partner the recipient though many others merited contemplation.
The show is a joy, the dancing the best ever, it goes on and Will grow forever old, even without Young.
October 14th 2016