It was the dance off from hell.
It’s not really what you would have wanted. It was like the fourth seed against the top seed, Henman versus Agassi, Donny Rovers taking on Leeds, back in the day, Cooper fighting Ali, the times when you knew that the underdog very rarely had its day.
Of all the permutations the last thing that Cloudier wanted was a contest against the dance machine that is Danny Mac Pro but that is what she got and now she is rested in the little nest that hosts the rest of the Bristol Hawks, so near yet so far, tantalisingly close to the big one, hurt for both her and her partner AJ, Alex Joseph, real name.
The way that the show worked was that each cupple was asked to dance twice, and that if they were in the dance off it was logical that they would dance their second dance again because that was the outfit that they still wore. No point in a wash down, a quick blast from an industrial dryer and then back into another set of kecks.
Cloudier‘s second dance was a wonderful Quick Step to ‘When You’re Smiling’, 38 points her highest of the series and surely this would take on all-comers? True. Except Danny Mac Pro. The Kleenex Kid’s Argentine Tango to ‘Can’t Get You Out of my Head’ (Kylie, not joking), ridiculously over marked, would have been sent packing to Fray Bentos. Louise‘s flat Samba to ‘Brazil’ would be posted back to Rio, second class. But for that pesky star of Wicked . . . a friend of Louise Dearman.
I met Louise on Sunday. I say met. She was at The Adelphi having a sing with Patrick Smyth, Lance’s replacement on Saturday (where was Lance? Christmas do?), as I was treated to watching a one off, ‘One More Dance’, starring a remarkably trim Kristina Rihanoff and an over-rated, in terms of looks, Glebby Glebby Glebby Savchenko. Oh, this was after lunch at The Savoy.
Louise has the honour of being the only person on the planet who has played both Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked, not at the same time, obvs. And it was there that she formed her friendship with Danny. So, how did he get into the dance off?
The Leader Board read thus:
By rights Danny should have gone straight to the final, he averages over 36 (no one else does), but life with the GBP isn’t always that of a straight arrow. Maybe they wanted a battle of the Cliftons next week? Obviously the producers were promoting the BBC’s man, Ore. Maybe the punters thought Danny was a shoe in? Even with a united Bristol voating for Cloudier, would that be enough?
Danny danced Salsa to ‘Vivir Mi Vida’ (I’m Going to Live my Life), a Marc Anthony song that is of a more gentle pace than it at first sounds, a tune to give Danny the chance to have the time of his life. Dressed in fawn slacks that were so high that they nearly garrotted him, a black T and red over-shirt he led a routine when there was actual dancing as well as lifts. Could have knocked me down with a feather. In the aftermath he was criticised for an absence of figure eight in his hips and for a lack of attitude whilst Bruno fell off his chair at the shock that no one else had awarded a ten, though he did. Had I been in my normal seat I would have caught him.
In truth Salsa is about connecting with the music but also with the girl and strangely this was lacking. For want of a better description the lead’s job is to make the girl feel special and to give her a good ride. Yes, his technique was spot on, he was up on his toes for turns, he turned his partner smartly to the right as she reversed and he kept time. But that sexy connection left a gap. There was none. How could he let that happen?
His Smooth was the entire opposite, intoxicating, the song Melissa Manchester’s captivating ‘Misty Blue’. Sitting on a random jetty Danny dropped down to collect Oti‘s hanky from the floor at the start of another routine where she played hard to get. Thereafter there was a smidgen of Viennese Waltz, no reverse turns, some contemporary dance, legs extended mid-air, which was where Oti found herself, on the jetty as the routine closed, launching herself towards her waiting squeeze below. Further than Greg on a bad day we all looked on agog. Would he catch her? Crikeybobs! What if he didn’t? Everyone sighed with relief when no medics were needed, but it was tight. We haven’t seen that much jeopardy since Katie Derham fell off the stage in last year’s final. Contrary to the expected only Darcey scored 9.
If I didn’t know better, and if the libel laws didn’t exist, I could suggest that money must have changed hands on Saturday to enable Ore to score 38 and 39 for two relatively innocuous dances, a Quick Step described by Judgge Aggie as messy and an Argentine Tango where she rallied, ‘oh no, it’s Chris Hollins all over again.’ (Sorry Chris, that’s twice this year.) But I won’t.
The feel and the look of a dance are so important so when Ore appeared on a motorbike dressed in black including a leather waistcoat, his name studded on the back so that no-one nicked it, and to be fair, who would, it was an immediate turn off. Joanne appeared looking like Hazel O’Connor (punk singer, seventies and eighties) so that didn’t help either. And then the song, ‘Are You Gonna be my Girl’ nearly made me change channels. The result was that it was messy, there was gapping, a lack of balance occasionally and some minor posture issues. It didn’t bode well until three judggies lost the plot. Craig, the voice of reason, offered an 8. One juddge said it was straight from Hell’s Angels. Perhaps just hell.
Let’s continue the theme to his Argentine Tango, Kylie, sitting in her Ramsay Street mansion cooing over the choice of music – we weren’t – until she saw the dance, the docker and the prostitute. What followed was the JFG show because apart from the sporadic movement of his feet and a lift or an occasion when he had to put her down (on the floor), or catch her, he stood there and went with the choreography rather than showing any signs of a lead. He offered no ganchos, his solar plexus was too far away to apply pressure, his posture meant his head was forward not his chest, his butt, as a result, protruded, making the effort look odd and totally inauthentic. You’ve guessed. Very disappointing. Thankfully The Adelphi offered some solace the day after.
Louise and Kevin from Grimsby must have breathed many sighs of relief when they knew they hadn’t been selected to dance off. Had they been, against any of the other cupples, they would have been toast. In a contest of fine margins this wasn’t Louise’s finest week; the Leader Board didn’t lie.
Let’s start with her Tango to ‘Glad All Over’, a Dave Clark 5 song from 1963, a great year for classic Tango songs in the hit parade.
Louise and KFG were working on a production line for glitter balls, sandy coloured coats hiding their garrulous dance garb, the conveyor belt from The Generation Game brought out from the stock room for a well-deserved showing and as a tribute to Sir Bruce. That said, there was no cuddly toy in sight. The garrulous outfits were red, grey, black and white, KFG looking like Eugene from any fifties stateside TV show, without the glasses, and Louise stepping straight from her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars.
Whilst there was plenty of fizz in difficult conditions Louise reverted to type occasionally staring at the floor and laughing all the way through as KFG sang every word, something that would have put anyone off their tea. I didn’t think that the Tango was a happy dance per se. Moody. Sharp. Attack. But not giggling like a three year old. Perhaps she could have a word with her husband who broke down in tears again. Tears of joy apparently, Jamie vying for the advertising rights in the queue for the tissue manufacturers in 2017.
The tears came again when the Samba was all over, probably the relief of having finished watching his wife dance wearing a fruit bowl on her head on a Saturday night in front of the nation. Here, here’s a quickie. Did anyone have lessons at school where you had to walk with books on your head to keep your posture straight? Just thought I’d ask.
The rest of her outfit was funky, bleached white, dubble hemmed in yellow, a belt of blue, azure and the same yellow, knee length. KFG appeared with an (empty) suit case, brown brogues, sandy pants and a short-sleeved yellow shirt, a salesman on his way to a conference. The laughter was back, the smiles, the joy, at last well-placed. Well if you can’t enjoy a Samba what can you enjoy?
But it was merely camouflage because if you study Louise there is nowhere she wanted to be less than on that floor doing that dance. Still shy the Samba is bootilicious, gregarious, driven by the loins, bounce needed, funn and frivolous, and to get the bounce there has to be resistance from the floor, not resistance to the dance.
The Rumba is a dance that begs for and demands emotional commitment and from an eighteen year old gymnast, someone used to discipline, straightness, and exposure only in the comfort of her own skill zone, this was always going to be a tuff ask. But the issue here wasn’t just Cloudier but her partner missing the mood by a mile, too much smiling himself, the romance broken because his mind was elsewhere. She shouldn’t suffer for that; I’m sure he wouldn’t have dunn that in competition at Blackpool.
The dance also demands more than just shapes and lines and whilst the gymnast delivered on all these fronts there was, to quote Lord Len, ‘a lot of cocking your leg up.’ I think the ballet term is ‘developpe’ (devlepay). And he was right. As ‘Bleeding Love’ began Cloudier appeared in Quality Street purple, her hair down, straight, different. A travelling splits was followed by a little illegal lift and drama, once Alex Joseph was back in the room. But the romance between ‘mates’ was hard to find, they are more brother and sister rather than courting, and whilst the dance was far from being just ‘marked’ the skill shown couldn’t hide the lack of chemistry.
Having watched the other dances, and having seen the scores, I’m sure that Cloudier knew that she would be in the dance off and with that came her cunning plan. Dance the best Quick Step of the series and leave it to the juddgies. And that is what happened. It is a testament to her desire, ability and sporting drive that she could deliver such a performance just when she needed it, even if she didn’t quite pull it off.
This Quick Step was simply magnificent and yards better than any other this series has thrown at us. A while ago Danny Mac Pro scored 36 for his. He is the benchmark. This scored 38, allegedly equal to the other effort tonight, but be left in no doubt, if Ore’s dance was Peckham then this was Chelsea, even Kensington. The conntnnt was massive – pivots, jumps, skips, chasses, flicks, sway, Charleston, pendulums you name it, even finishing with a slide through her partner’s legs – and the pace was relentless, the control peerless.
Alex Joe wore a proper tail suit with a white tie, Cloudier a grey number speckled with navy. The look worked. They were at it from the off, another tick. It was a veritable performance and it made us all smile, a fitting finale and a great test for the judggies having to decide between the West End star and the gymnast. A fag paper separated them in the dance off. Indeed many on social media thought that Cloudier had sneaked it but it wasn’t to be.
We are left with just one week to go now, gosh, how it has flown past, and the final beckons. By next week that will be The Grand Final and your champion will be named. Will it be Italia Conti Redknapp? Could it be Danny Mac Pro Wicked? Or maybe the BBC winning a BBC show? KFG or JFG? Or perhaps it’s time to voati for Oti if that floats your boati.
Over to you.
14th December 2016