So it’s the big Strictly weekend with a double elimination, leaving three couples to compete in the final.
Pamela & James begin proceedings with their Paso Double. It’s not a bad start – very intense but there are a few wobbles, which Craig later pointed out, and it was a bit laboured in places. Pamela looks tired, though her flame red basque style costume shows off a figure that any 60 year old would be proud of. Her husband, Billy Connolly, was in the audience and after he’d seen her costume he commented that if he saw her in a bullring, he’d charge at her. Alesha said that Pamela had maintained her standard from last week; why then a 9 and not the 10 from last week ? They score 35. Tonight they have the quickstep.
Kara & Artem dance a beautiful, lyrical Viennese Waltz, with Kara beginning on her own in a beautiful dress of green and winter white. The couple perform perfect shadow steps with gorgeous lines and Kara’s musical phrasing is second to none. By the end, the audience is on their feet.
Alesha commented on the speed of the dance; Len said that he’d only ever seen two dances that he loved – Kara’s and Alesha’s.
They score 39 (Craig gave them a 9 because in one of the lifts Kara’s feet left the floor and that constitutes a banned lift). 39 is their highesst score to date; tonight they face the rumba.
Gavin has the samba this week – and he doesn’t look to comfortable with it. Bruno comments that his timing is out and he hasn’t really got the samba beat. Craig said that it lacked flow but that his hip rotation shows that all those hours of training (249.7) have been worthwhile. Len said that the samba is a tachnically challenging dance but he didn’t enjoy it. They score 27 and have the Viennese Waltz tonight.
Scott & Natalie dance the Argentine Tango, and have a lot to prove to themselves this week as they were in the bottom two last weekend. Scott starts, standing next to a lamppost; it’s very intense with a lot of lifts. Craig loved it, but wants more swivel on the closes. He says that the man should lead; that it’s the man who decides what the woman will dance – and he felt that Scott as dancing Nat’s choreography rather than leading the dance. Len said it was clean & precise but he wasn’t convinced about it. Bruno thought they played it like a film noir; it wasn’t flashy, it was effective and right for this dance. They score 33 (with a 9 from Bruno) and tonight they dance the Charleston – something Scott says he is looking forward to.
Matt & Aliona have been in the top three for every week of the competition, and tonight they dance salsa to Kylie’s Spinning Around. I found it a little awkard to watch; I don’t find that Matt was smooth enough and that basically he’s just trying too hard. He’s put 110% into every dance but the salsa is more laid back, you can’t force it and I think he’s spoilt what could have been a very good dance if he just took it a little less seriously. Len thought that Matt went off time, and that it wasn’t a very good dance. Bruno agreed and added that if you overcook it, it’s just not right. Craig said that Matt’s balance was off, and that there was too much isolation. Matt looks pretty crestfallen with these comments but he says taht he could not have done any more. They score 28 and tonight they dance the tango.
And then came the fun of the Swingathon – a first for Strictly. All five couples take to the floor together to a swing dance, and each is eliminated by the judges during the two and a half minutes of the dance. It’s mostly about stamina – with the swing you have elements of rock & roll and all the other dances, with lots of lifts and hand waving. The judges don’t want to see anyone slacking off.
Each couple is awarded points according to how long they remain in the dance – so Gavin and Katya are voted off first and gain one point. Scott & Natalie are next, earning them two points, followed by Pamela & James who gain three points and Matt & Aliona with four points. The winners, with five points and still on the dance floor at the end of the two and a half minutes, are Kara and Artem.
They are also at the top of the leader board on 44 points, with Gavin & Katya at the other end with 28 points.
It could all change tonight !