Strictly Come Dancing Waltzes to Wembley for week 7
This week the 9 remaining celebrities dance at Wembley Arena in front of an audience of 6000 people to raise money for Children in Need. During It Takes Two last week the contestants were offered some conflicting advice from ex-Strictly pro dancers. Karen Hardy advised the dancers not to “dance out” to the audience; rather they should make the audience come to them. Later in the week Ian Waite, during his Wednesday Warm-up, suggested that the celebrities should “use the space differently” and “dance everything up to the audience.” Whose advice will they have listened to ? On top of the size of the venue, wholly unsuited as it is to what is essentially a dance for two, the celebrities have another themed week – dancing through the decades.
Craig and Bruno parachute into the area while the pro dancers, dressed as flight attendants, boogie on the Wembley plinth. Darcey and Len flip through the sixties and before you know it we’re into day-glo leggings with the band drumming a tattoo.
We’re starting with Lisa and Robin in the 70’s, dancing a samba to Car Wash. The swirling multi coloured floor is a distraction too far, but the routine is efficient and the timing good. Lisa looks laboured through some of the moves and the split at the end saw her unceremoniously dumped on the floor. Still, the audience seem impressed. Len said “your head lamps were gleaming” and the performance level is great, but he wants a bit more technique. Bruno said “frisky and frothy.” Craig said it was “big, bold and beautiful.” Darcey liked the energy and groove, but she wants more bounce and spring by bending the knees more.
They score 32
Nicky and Karen dance the Jive to Jailhouse Rock and Nicky kicks off on the judges desk. It’s fast and covers a lot of the arena. Timing was great and it looked exhausting. Bruno said “everybody loves a rebel.” He loved the style of the routine. “One of your best.” Craig thought it was all very flat-footed and stompy and there’s no retraction in Nicky’s flicks, but he loved the energy and character. Darcey loved the routine and the hard work. The kicks aren’t right and she thinks maybe it’s tight hamstrings because Nicky isn’t getting a full stretch. Irony ? Jailhouse Rock ? Len thought it was slick and loved the flavour of the rock n’ roll Jive.
They score 30
Denise and James dance the 20’s Charleston, which Denise as Cleopatra, with James as an explorer, to Walk like an Egyptian. James arrives by rope; Denise on a throne carried by four men. Denise does better with the swivel that has been missing in recent weeks from other celebrities, and she manages the jump which has been a concern in training. Craig thought it was the best Charleston he’d ever seen on Strictly. Darcey agreed, “such a polished performance.” Len loved it and Bruno said “the jewel of the Nile. A treasure of a Charleston.”
They score a ten from Darcey – the first of the series, a 10 from Len and Bruno, giving them 39
Louis and Flavia dance the American Smooth (Quickstep) and the routine is very unusual, with Louis working his gymnastic moves, but there’s a bit of a mistake along the way, and it was missing some smooth. Darcey picked up on the different style. She picked up on the small mistake but she doesn’t want them to use all their tricks too early. Len missed the smooth element too, and Bruno was surprised and disappointed at the lyricism that was missing. Craig thought it was “refreshing.”
They score 30
Richard and Erin dance the Salsa to Club Tropicana from the 80’s. The plinth is a beach, complete with loungers, but they are more lively than Richard who looks as though he’s stuck in the sand. Erin ends up on a lilo ! Len thought it was a proper party. Bruno said it was lots of fun but the technique was a bit sketchy. Craig said it was littered with timing issues and very stompy.
They score 24
Victoria and Brendan dance a 70’s Paso Doble to Queen’s Bicycle Ride. Victoria flies through the air on a bicycle that looks like a bit of a mistake, and Brenda flashes the Union Jack cape. Why is Victoria wearing stripy leggings ? Not a great Paso look. Bruno didn’t like the routine because the shaping wasn’t Spanish enough and the bike theme just didn’t help. “Too ambitious.” And Craig agreed because the dance wasn’t’ good. Darcey thought Victoria lost focus and was overwhelmed by the space. Len wasn’t keen on the repetitious jumps but he thought it was pretty good.
They score 24
Dani and Vincent go back to the 60’s with a Quickstep. Starting on a glittering block, Dani looks great in sixties pink and black; even her shoes are pearly pink. It’s very light and very expressive in the arms with lots of tricky footwork. It’s insanely beautiful. Craig said “fast, efficient, fearless. I loved it.” Darcey said “WOW, you can eat up that dance floor.” Len said that the quality and quality were all there. “Little Miss Dynamite you were fabulous.” Bruno said “you gorgeous little Smurf.”
They score 36, which I think undermarks them as the dance was better than Denise and James’.
Kimberley and Pasha dance the Samba to Livin’ la Vida Loca. Kimberley starts on her own, confidently, and the floor is (digitally) on fire. Darcey loved it but wants a bit more strength in Kimberley’s core. Len doesn’t want to see them in the dance-off again this week, he thought it was fabulous. Bruno loved it too, “hot to the point of fusion.” Craig said it was full of challenging rhythms.
They score 34
Michael and Natalie close the show with New York, New York and an American Smooth. Very Hollywood opening, and their Smooth is a more traditional style with long clean lines and flashy lifts which Michael pulls off well. They’ve danced big, no other way to describe it. Len said Michael put the “ooh in Smooth. A proper production.” Bruno loved it but he could see the terror in Michael’s face in case he dropped Natalie. But a fitting finale. Craig picked up on the hard work “from the dance gutter, darling.” Darcey loved the glamour and the lifts.
They score 35
All photographs © BBC Pictures. Strictly, No unauthorised reproduction.
Strictly So Far …
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