Strictly 2018 Series 16 – Week 5

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A new dawn, a new day, a new life . . .

A guest juddge and a new dance or two, the Cupple’s Choice, this week Contemporary Movement and Street Commercial, next week the Maypole, Northern Soul, the Hokey-Cokey, the Lambada and the Bachata, the latter two causing the odd spillage of G & T in Middle England.

And still no chance of some real Latin or Ballroom, still no authenticity. It must be on the Bucket List of every purist. At least the apostrophe in Cupple’s Choice was right. Please don’t accuse me of being too possessive about apostrophes. You can’t have a bunch of illiterate oiks randomly reversing over 300 years of elision, of etymological history, painstakingly created by eighteenth century grammarians. Contrary to recent questions etymology has nothing to do with spiders.

So the guest juddge. Imagine Kyle Sinckler, Harlequins, England and British and Irish Lions tight head prop, broad of beam, feisty of temperament, a sharp brain and a twinkle in his eye. Add a maroon blazer and a waiter’s white gloves and you have Alfonso Ribeiro, fresh from a flight from LAX. When I explained this change to normality my guest inquired, ‘which one is he?’

‘He’s sitting on the end . . .’ I replied.

Really parsitive, wasn’t he?

As for the new dances here’s a cupple of stereotypes.

For one, picture the peerless songstress Kate Bush, barefoot, floaty white frock, hair in the breeze, running up that hill or mindlessly skipping around Glastonbury Tor, high as a kite, sorry, flying a kite. And add a troop of naked nymphs. That is Contemporary, a mix of ballet, lyricism, fluidity and waftiness, a dance full of expression, emotion, tenderness and feeling. Dame Darcey would have been in her element. Lauren and Anthony Judah Pritchard weren’t even though she is such a stunning atherlete and in spite of the heartfelt Pat Cash dash to her family at the end of the routine (Wimbledon 1987). Ellen, the sister, is hot isn’t she? Just sayin’. Of course Lauren was courageous, there were twelve lifts and she was exposed like never before but it was like watching a Slinky made of Lego. It’s a good job AJ didn’t do this on Britain’s Got Talent.

The second stereotype.

Huggy Bear doing a deal, down on the street, no sign of Hutch, Starsky or Captain Dobey. That’s all you need to know really. It might be a handful of weed, a can of coke, the loan of an apartment, a car for a night, a girl or two, a power tool for the Saudi Arabian market, even a warehouse full of dodgy fridges. Del Boy in Harlem. Add in a Mask suit (Jim Carrey), garish yellow and Charlie Venn, a man from the tough streets of London, the Mozart sink estate, oh, and also from a school of performing arts. Did I not mention that? Oh well.

Charlie was in his element and he needed to be. Get this! Street kid does Street Dance! Fancy such a coincidence happening just when he needed it the most? With the formality of structure and technique in the L & B world he has struggled, constantly over-marked, constantly wishing he was somewhere else. But this was made for Charles, all dude, swagger and sass. He was so good (36 points) that he looked ready for the gang war to follow. Sorry, third stereotype. His partner, on the other hand, looked ready for a Charleston with the local Am Dram group.

This performance may well turn out to be Charlie’s Cup Final but he has closed the gap on most of the beginners who are all fighting to survive the next four weeks. Kate’s Viennese Waltz was so slow that you were made to remember that she is a novice and has never danced. Strauss would have been turning in his grave albeit very slowly. She lost herself in the music and the moment; it was a dance filled with dreams and hidden desire. Not just Mrs Jones then?

Watching Dr Ranj dance a Smooth amidst the beach huts at Weston, without a turban or an elephant, got me hoping that he was a very good doctor.

Joe’s Waltz, dressed as a mix of Norman Wisdom and Bert the Chimney Sweep from Mary Poppins, was perfect in step but it lacked musical connection and thus delivery. Given that there is talk of romance between him and his newly single partner this is a surprise. Her red hair and lime green frock were a direct steal from Ariel, a few weeks late for Movie Week, and she was enough to bring the colour to anyone’s cheeks. Perhaps if he looked at her like he used to at a thatched roof?

To dance the Ballroom Tango the male lead assumes the character of the pompous and the arrogant added to a heavy tinge of drive and attack. Easy for the simpering Swann. Dancing to Roxanne, more famous as a tune in the film Moulin Rouge than the original by The Police, this was a great statement of intent from the ace cricketer, the Tango Man in red and black, no orange in sight.

Another great statement too from Stacey who is developing into a beautiful dancer even though I still have to watch her with the sound off. Dancing to the song Tequila, a few tots to loosen the limbs prior, her abandon, fervour and attack in her showgirl inspired Samba, oh where is Lola when you need her the most, pushed her ever closer to the pros. She is a natural. If the ‘ever so supportive’ KFG is still single – Louise Redknapp was in the frame, I read – maybe a fourth wedding is in the offing? KFG doesn’t like being married, just the wedding . . .

If Faye plays her cards right and calls me she might just have a chance as well. She is delectable, so too her Fox Trot, what there was of it. Her partner sported a purple seventies velvet jacket made out of left over cushion fabric, she wore matching curtains, satin to the touch. If only they hadn’t added a freestyle solo section, like an unnecessary key change in a song. And danced more. One day . . .

That grates but not as much as smug Ashley. Perfect word for her. Smug. Not a great quality. She knows she can dance. The final beckons yet all the false pretence of innocence and inexperience doesn’t work. The timing, delivery and shaping in her Rumba were scintillating. One wonders what she is like away from her comfort zone. One wonders where that is? To balance everything I have sent her a postcard with Declan Donnelly’s photo on it. Just to bring her back to reality.

Last week we hinted that the first Ten wasn’t far away in the pantheon of tick boxes and sure enough, in Week 5 out came the paddle, not from the Donny Osmond stand-in Alfonso Ribeiro, which, to be honest, was the great fear, but from Dame Darcey, possibly to add to her profile as she re-launches her Pilates DVD. Always something to sell. Pilates . . .

Talking of which, the 10 was awarded to the Senior Pro, the Veteran, for his Jive, acting as the Pilate, sorry pilot of a Sopwith Camel, the planes that were prominent when Danny was a lad. Having auditioned with the Utterly Butterlies wing-walking troop he was primed and ready to fly, and fly he did expelling more energy in ninety seconds than most people do in a year. We’ve just got a defib machine at work. At one stage it looked like it might be needed in Elstree. Good job he wasn’t in the dance off, he would have had to be dragged from his ice bath to reprise this role. This really was a terrific effort (37), magnificent even with the flying machine, and one is left wondering what he would be like on the stage doing it. Oh, that’s what he did earlier in his career. Oh, well.

So, what does being in the bottom two mean, the last on the shelf, the person that no one wants to choose at school in the lunch time footy game?

‘Hey, go on then, pick the fat kid, he can play in goal!’

‘Stuff that, he can be the goals!’

In sporting parlance, in the win and lose culture, it is doom, trips to less glamourous stadia, a drop in revenue and investment, a change of personnel and a season to try and re-set the expectations.

There are some sporting leagues where franchises ensure that there is no relegation and the worst teams even get the first dabs on the best players. It’s an attempt to create a level playing field, a counter-intuitive utopia of the impossible.

In the Strictly world it can mean Arrivederci or, in a Russian Roulette sort of way, that someone else gets the bullet. Young Vick was the bottom of the pile, crucified like the Angel of the North by the juddgies and it wasn’t even Easter. Was this the end? Joining her at the wrong end of the food chain was Seann 2NNs; between them their scores wouldn’t have earned a CSE. For the sake of balance, as mentioned, three of the top five were pros.

Over the past weeks Vick has danced with elegance in the Ballroom (Waltz – 27, Quick Step – 29); her ride had only just begun. I don’t think Seann’s dictionary extends to the letter ‘E’. But her nemesis, as it transpired, was the Cha, a dance avoided by Seann and Katya following ‘Snog-Gate’. It was deemed too saucy. You would have to say the words ‘horse’ and ‘bolt’.

Anyhow, Vick can shake her stuff, she has natural beauty, a mane of hair begging for L’Oréal attention, a tangerine and yellow tasselled outfit straight from the light section at Ikea, but the technique was left at home this week, so too any resemblance to simple basics that might have saved her fate. But wait, what was there to beat, was it really the worst?

Having been chaperoned last week today the barrier of choice from the producers, strictly no touching of the body allowed, was a guitar as Seann the Busker skipped and trotted through a Quick Step like a kid high on E Numbers. Frantic, too fast, no finesse, Seann, a guitar and Mrs Jones. Even in the dance off this wasn’t good. Katya knew it. She sensed it was Siberia for her. Seann’s attempt to single-handedly end the Cold War would soon be over. Surely this wasn’t (Iron) Curtains for the show’s highest profile cupple? In contrast Vick’s final performance was polished, slick, more relaxed, worthy. Little was she to know the outcome. When it was announced Seann was genuinely shocked to survive, still alive to take up his role in The Life of Brian.

One juddge went for Vick.

In what can only have been a pre-meditated decision three others didn’t.

Sadly, without Vick there is no Hope.

Dave Schofield

Bristol

October 26th 2018

P.S. Did you check out the backing dancers? I’m sure one was the spitting image of Anthony Smith of Bristol?