It's Quarter Finals Week! Not long to go now before we know who'll be lifting the glitterball and our celebrities hang up their dancing shoes - unless they're going on the lucrative Strictly Come Dancing Tour. Have you seen the price of the tickets? For that kind of money I'd want a glitterball of my own AND a feel of Gleb's fleckerls!
This week was Musicals week which served up a very mixed bag of styles, dances and routines. It was also the shortest show of the season so far, running at just an hour. Which is just as well 'cos I watched it after coming in from the rugby club Christmas party. The things I do for you! Luckily I can
Georgia May Foote kicked off the show with a slow foxtrot to Beauty and the Beast. That's a bit mean, really - I think she's very pretty. Oh, wait. Joe Varney was supposed to be the Beast! Gotcha. Georgia was the Belle of the ballroom last night with this beautiful, sweeping, graceful dance. Always safe with Giovanni's choreography, this was a monster, magical routine full of flair, fabulous footwork and lyrical lines. It may have lacked a little dynamic for some of the judges and she's still lifting her shoulder but overall this whimsical number was a crowd-pleaser. She Disney disappoint and scored a far from Grimm 36 our of 40.
Up next was Anita Rani dancing an Argentine Tango to Cell Block Tango from Chicago. Gleb put the Sarge in Argentine, dressed in a sleeveless mesh shirt as a prison guard. I could hardly take my eyes off his truncheon. If that's how the prison officers look in Strictly land lock me up now! I have an awful lot I can confess, your honour. Anyway, this dance had plenty of attack and intent, it was lovely to look at with some tricky footwork, bags of ganchos and good, strong characterisation. There was heat and passion between the pair and lots of drama, but occasionally Anita lost her footing and her toes needed to be more pointed for effect. There was some gapping too, which spoiled some of the lines. It was a decent enough attempt and she scored 31 out of 40.
Kellie Bright followed with a mockerney, cockerney knees up of a Viennese Waltz to Oom Pa Pa from Oliver! (That's their exclamation mark by the way - it's not that exciting a film - although Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes always made me a bit hot under the crinoline.) In a Twist Stevie Wonder could have seen coming, Kellie was portraying tart with a heart Nancy with KevinfromGrimsby got up as The Artful Dodger. It was a bit of an odd routine - the music a bit cheery for a Viennese waltz and there was far to much dancing on the table top. Give her her dues, though, Kellie portrayed a good character (even if it wasn't much of a stretch from her day job) and the routine had lots of sway, swagger and style. It all ended up actually working quite well and Kev's clever choreography made it an overall entertaining routine. The judges scored Kellie 36 out of 40.
Jay McGuinness was next to the floor with a rumba to Falling Slowly from Once. No, I've never heard of it either. Apparently it's based on that film about the busker and the girl who meet through a love of music? No, I've never heard of it either. Sooooo.....Jay's rumba was, well a rumba. Walk, wave, wiggle, pout, grasp partner's face, look yearning and wistful and romantic. The thing is, Jay did it very well. His rumba covered the floor like a roomba, full of the classic content that Len loves. There was lovely story-telling and romance, Jay played plenty of attention to partner Aliona and they were together throughout, moving as one. This was quite a moving, passionate number and Jay put in a lot of effort and hip action in a dance that's notoriously difficult for the male dancers. The judges commented on Jay's costume of jeans and check shirt (worn by the character in the film / musical) but that's not his choice! Everything else was enough to wow - and only Craig failed to whip out his 10. A whopping 39 out of 40.
Katie Derham was the penultimate dancer, providing us with a fab little foxtrot to Maybe This Time from Cabaret. When Katie dances well she Bowles us all over, and Saturday night was a good stab. Partner Anton might be cheesier than a bag of Wotsits in a Dairylea sponsored-fondue, but he's also known as the King of Foxtrot. His experience showed in a dance choreographed to show off Katie's finer points and mask the areas where she struggles. It took a little while to actually get going, but when it did it had some great lines and technical trickery. While it was full of class, Katie needed some sass and it was a tad safe. There were some problems with the footwork in places and it needed a little more heel and toe action, but she still scored a cracking 35 out of 40.
Glamorous Helen George closed the show with a Paso Doble to At The End Of The Day from Les Miserables. I'm sorry, but I was Miserable after this dance. For me it really didn't work. The music seemed to clash with the routine and moves and wasn't really dramatic enough. It had some zing and zip, but the Paso is about passion, heat, a bullfight - not a whinge about being broke and having nowt. And is it really wise to dance to a song that ends with the singers urging us to chuck the woman out? Helen tried really hard, pouring on the attack with some strong lines. She was fierce and feisty, but she started to lose lines, her timing was off and her balance went on more than one occasion. It was sharp and had staccato, but At The End Of The Day it wasn't her best. She scored 34 out of 40 from Len & Co.
Sunday popped up quicker than it usually does, as everyone played Let's Pretend
It's Tomorrow. Mind you, it often feels like the weekend's gone that quickly for me, too. There was an opening performance from the cast of The Lion King. (Now those are pricey tickets. Like, second mortgage pricey. It's not as if Elton John needs any more money, surely?) Californian choon crooner and professional nice guy Josh Groban sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz - jolly nice it was too - and we had the usual pro dancing to stretch things out again. We had another peek through Len's Lens. I'm pretty sure that's where John Lewis have got their 'Man on the Moon' Christmas advert idea from - an old bloke with a telescope looking at the glitz and glamour here in the real world. See, direct lift. Tess Daly eked out the tension with her bum-bums (I mean the sound effects!) and the bottom two were revealed.
Astonishingly, indeed ludicrously, Georgia and Helen were in the dance off! This really was a shocker as two of the strongest ladies in the competition were forced to dance again. I mean, I know people were feeling sorry for Anton after years of weird Widdecombs and measly Murrays, but come on! Katie's a lovely lady and all - she's just not as good as Georgia or Helen. Or anyone else, to be honest. I'm not at all sure the public got it right this weekend.
The judges were in an awful position and faced with a very difficult dilemma. Both contestants had polished their performances and rectified the errors, but were clearly quite shaken by the situation. After a tough dance off, the judges reluctantly let Helen go, pointing out that neither couple deserved to be there. It's a terrible shame and hopefully the right people will be going home next week.
Next week is Semi-Finals week. It's also the week when I am so horrendously busy I will need to borrow Hermione's Time-Turner as well as the Tardis - and maybe H G Wells' time machine for good measure. I think there's one point on the Saturday where we have to be in two places almost simultaneously, forty miles apart. Wish me luck. The review may be a little later is appearing but come Hell, high water or a breakdown, it WILL be there.
Until then...............KEEP DANCING!!!!!!!!