Strictly Come Dancing – Halloween week with Swan Lake

Black Swan

Strictly Come Dancing – Halloween week (5) 

Strictly Come Dancing
Harry Judd & Aliona Vilani dance the Tango Photograph : BBC Pictures

Last year, one of my all time favourite weeks was Halloween, because everything came together – the costumes, hair and make-up, and the dancing.

3 Tangos, 3 Pasos, 1 Samba, 1 Jive, 1 American Smooth, 1 Rhumba and 1 Quickstep.

But will they match up to last year ?

Great start from all the dancers, incorporating some moves from the judges too!  Princess Bea is in the audience with her beau, and there’s a spider behind Tess… 

Holly Valance is channelling Black Swan tonight, as she dances to Swan Lake, more traditionally seen at the ballet! Whatever does Russell Grant look like ?  Brucie says they all look like the undead.

Oh Lord!  Craig Revel-Horwood arrives on a broomstick, from a highwire, apologising profusely for his lateness but saying that the traffic was a complete “dis-aaaaaa-ster.” Tonight the clocks go back, and it’s already dark, but that broomstick had no headlights!!!

Russell and Flavia have a tricky task tonight, dancing the Samba – a party dance – on Halloween night. He is head to toe in vermillion, avec two red horns on his head and a truck load of face paint! He’s hyper-keen to do this dance, and despite being haunted during training and a sore knee, he’s ready.  Are we ? Beginning in the flames of Hell, he’s more pussy-cat than devil but he has the elusive Samba bounce. He forgets part of the routine but recovers well, and finishes where be began, back in the flames.  Len picked up on the mistakes, but said that when he came thrrough the flames he must have caught his bum on fire because he came out really dancing. Bruno said that he turned Hell into a camp heaven, but said that it went wrong quite a lot. Craig picked up on his bad timing but good bounce action.

They score : 22

Chelsee and Pasha dance the Tango among the bubbling bottles.  Alchemy! Chelsee appears out of the cauldron, and the dance is wild, strong, tense and staccato. Loving the purple and pink, but Chelsee is in tears by the end because of a dress malfunction. Bruno said she did a great dance. Craig wanted flexed knees but said that she coped with the wardrobe malfunction well but it did affect her and the ending was a little messy.  Len said she was like a Lancashinre Hotpot, all lovely and delicious. Poor Chelsee is too distraught to take much notice, but both Bruce and Tess are reassuring. Personally I’d love to see her schedule on Waterloo Road ease up a little so that she could spend more hours training.

They score : 32

Strictly dancers
Chelsee Healey dances the Tango Photograph : BBC Pictures

Audley and Harrison have to follow that with a Jive, and Audley begins on the piano.  Natalie is wearing a tutti-frutti confection of madness but Audley isn’t matching her enthusiasm step for step. He’s too angular; too slow. More stuff on the piano, which Len won’t like. Natalie is dancing for both of them, but it’s not enough. Bruno said it was big smiles from Audley but bad footwork. Craig said Audley is physically unsuited to the dance and that it was heavy. Len disagreed; timing was right all the way through and he never went wrong.

They score : 20

Alex Jones dances the Paso Doble with James Jordan.  Training seems to have been hanging off the side of a wall in a skeleton suit.  Alex is dressed in white, touches of Sarah Brightman as she swirls her skirts.  It’s a bit scratchy by the time James gets hold of her and the floor spin is pretty ungainly, but Alex does show some aggression and the ending is good, with both of them on the floor. Craig said she played it extremely well. Len was expecting a Hammer House of Horror but he was wrong; it was dramatic with intensity thought there was a little bit too much “frock-wafting” for him. Bruno noticed the increase in Alex’s core strength and how she is now linking all the steps.  A dance resurrection!

They score : 31

Black Swan

Holly and Artem tackle Swan Lake. Her dress is pure Black Swan! Not Rodarte, but feathered none the less. Artem is White Swan, mostly Matthew Bourne’s swans!. Heavenly, beautiful swan arms to begin with, beautiful lines, elegance and refinement. Holly has such a small skirt/tutu that she is totally exposed in her lines and footwork, and you really can see how hard she and Artem have worked this week. Len wants the clocks to go back right now because he wants to see it again right now.  He loved it !  What a number ! This is Alesha’s favourite concept so far. Bruno thought that even to attempt the difficult Swan Lake music was barmy, but Holly was excuisite. Craig said “very high risk and perilous concept” but she made it work.

They score : 35 – best score of the night so far!

Black Swan
Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev dancing the America Smooth to Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky Photograph : BBC PIctures

Nancy is next.  Anton is looking quite dusty already.  They have the Rhumba. Nancy emerges from the coffin she fought so hard to avoid in training. She’s fairly inelegant and ploddy on her own at the start, her legs are far too far apart to be lady-like and she’s wooden by the time Anton arrives. Her best movements are, as ever, upside down. Alesha said she was a walking disaster and remarked about her legs being wide apart and lack of elegance.  Bruno said she looks like the Queen of the Night but dances like the walking dead.  Craig said “dance horriblé, darling.” Len said “there were moments of Mills and Boon and moments of Meals on Wheels.”

They score : 14 – putting them in the twilight zone!

Harry and Aliona won a 10 last week. This week they have the Tango. Seated, they begin masked, but quickly introduce themselves and get into hold. Harry is in full vampire mode, and it’s very cleverly done. Strong, masculine and dangerous. Bruno loved it. Craig loved the story-telling and the aggression. Len wants more than 8 bars in hold.  He thought it was crisp and enjoyable but he wanted a Tango in Tango hold. He’s annoyed because when Harry is in hold, he is fantastic. Alesha said Harry is too cool for school.

They score : 34 (a 10 from Alesha)

Robbie & Ola dance the Paso Doble, and Robbie begins on his own, stealing a cape from Ola as she passes.It doesn’t have the aggression needed; Robbie is quite soft and effeminate, and I bet Len will hate the double crotch grabbing shots and the ending on the judges table. Craig said that technically it needed a lot more drive, and his hands were like soup ladles at times. Len said it was a little bit disconcerting (the crotch-thrusting) and he was a little disappointed.

They score : 26

Anita and Robin dance the Tango, so will Anita be able to stop smiling to get into character for the Devil Woman ? Popping up behind a handy tombstone, Anita doesn’t quite have the staccato head movements and she is smiling by the end, but it’s a good shot!  She has huge red feathered false eyelashes! Len picked up on the mistakes, and says that she is too vertical, and her posture is her weakness. Bruno enjoyed her portrayal but her frame needs work. Anita looks disappinted.

They score : 31

Lulu and Brendan tackle the Paso Doble. In training, Lulu is dressed as Batman. She’s going to be flying in this routine! So is Brendan.  Both bats. She’s batting those wings like drumsticks, but they are hiding her lack of footwork. It might have been a brave show but it’s not a dance ! Craig liked the theatrical content but felt that the content in hold looked as though they were fighting for supremacy. Len wants to see more reaction and action, but it was entertainment.

They score : 29

Jason and Kristina take to the stage in emerald costumes to dance the Quickstep. Kristina twitches her nose and has the Bewitched wand and Jason dances to her tune. It’s a beautiful, funny dance despite the mistakes. Craig loved it even though there were a couple of mistakes. Len agreed with Brendan that the whole backstage team tonight have been fantastic tonight, and he too enjoyed the routine.  Alesha said it was charming and interesting. Bruno liked the slightly barmy elements!

They score : 37 – top score of the night and of the series so far.

Tonight’s music was :

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace dance the Samba to Better The Devil You Know by Kylie Minogue

Chelsee Healy and Pasha Kovalev dance the Tango to Love Potion Number 9 by The Searchers

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe dance the Jive to Little Shop of Horrors – Cast Version

Alex Jones and James Jordan dance the Paso Doble to Bring Me to Life by Evanescence

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev dance the American Smooth to Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky

Nancy Dell’olio  and Anton Du Beke dance the Rhumba to Spooky by Dusty Springfield

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani dance the Tango to Psycho Killer by Talking Heads

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan dance the Paso Doble to Bad by Michael Jackson

Anita Dobson and Robin Windsor dance the Tango to Devil Woman by Cliff Richard

Lulu and Brendan Cole dance the Paso Doble to Highway to Hell by AC/DC

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rhianoff dance the Quickstep to Bewitched by Steve Lawrence


All Photographs © BBC Pictures. No unauthorised reproduction.

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ballet sparkles

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Strictly Come Dancing | Week 4


Strictly Come Dancing | Week 4

Robbie & Ola dance the Jive Photograph : BBC Pictures

It’s Strictly Saturday night, and are we in for a night of proper dancing this week ?

Jason ‘The Midwife’ Donovan and Kristina kick off the show, quite literally, with the Paso Doble. Training looks tough but the routine is strong. I’d prefer Jason not to be blowing bubbles with his mouth; timing is a little off by the end and he had trouble with the hand grips throughout, but it’s a great show. Len said Jason had the performance but not the technique; he looked great when he was standing still. Jason responds that “it’s been a difficult birth.” Bruno said that Jason tried to make a meal out of the Paso and ended up with indigestion, and he mentioned the timing issues. Craig said that the intention was sound, but he had plenty of corrections – shoulders down, knees too high etc,.

They score : 27

Alex Jones has perhaps the costume of the night – a catsuit usually reserved for Ola !  Is she ready to Rhumba with James ? They begin crouched down on the floor, embraced, Bolero style, but Alex isn’t using the floor at all. You can see that she’s been really well drilled, and her positions are neat, but she looks completely wooden and stiff. Alesha said she was playing it safe. Bruno said Alex looked sinfully sexy, but at the same time so demure and hesitant and she never used her hips. Craig said it was “sexless, cold and stiff.” Len said there was too much on the floor and no hip action.

They score : 25 (a four from Craig – and James is really not happy with Craig. Expect rumbles.)

Rory and Erin have a challenge on their hands with the Cha Cha Cha, but Rory starts on the stairs and shimmies his hips in front of the judges.  He looks confident but Broadway week is over and there’s nowhere to hide a lack of technique this week.  He seems quite lost and hesitant in between steps, and relieved it’s over ! Bruno said Rory was funny, but that he lost timing and needs to keep the steps on the balls of his feet.  Craig said it was gauche, due largely to heavy placement. Len said Rory was like the government, “there’s a lot going on and not all of it’s good” and he didn’t like the gyrating.

They score : 24 (another four from Craig)

Harry & Aliona dance the Waltz Photograph : BBC Pictures

Audley has a mountain to climb this week, with the Foxtrot. Audley is having nightmares about his feet, but he feels ballet is a step too far.  Still, he did go, and he did benefit hugely. He is so much improved that he feet actually look smaller! Natalie is very pleased. Craig noticed improvements, but said that swing and sway are still missing, “but, I really and truly liked it.” Len wanted to give Audley a sitting, standing ovation.

They score : 25

Nancy and Anton dance the Paso.  Will Nancy have improved her dancing for the dance of the bullfight ? In training, Nancy thought Anton was taking her to Madrid for some inspiration, but he took her to a farm with domestic cows ! On the floor, Nancy has improved, though her turns are still wobbly and she is still plodding along and something went wrong part way through with a lift.  Still, it’s a dramatic routine with Nancy flung around Anton at the end. Len said that Nancy isn’t that good on her feet, but he enjoyed it and it was entertaining. Bruno said Nancy was fabulous with her legs in the air or wrapped around Anton like clingfilm, but said it was a great effort, if not the success it could have been. He did wonder how Nancy could count out loud and still go off timing.  Craig noticed where Nancy went badly wrong and asked her to concentrate on her talent.

They score : 18 (a three from Craig)

Lulu and Brendan trumpet the beginning of their Samba, and it’s better until Lulu starts turning, as she can’t hold her balance.  They spend time travelling up the stairs towards the other contestants, but Lulu remembers the routine even if she doesn’t excel in it.  Alesha said “full of beans, full of energy, good job.”  Bruno noticed a few mistakes and Craig said they could have done without the run up the stairs which wasted a lot of time. Len liked the enthusiasm which got into the carnival spirit of the Samba but it was a it repetitious.  James Jordan started shouting across the studio from upstairs and Len retorts with “all you’ve got to do is turn up, put up and shut up.”  The row rumbles on.

They score : 25

Holly has been working on her elegance this week. Three lamp posts adorn the stage. Holly at one end, Artem the other.  When they meet, the twirl around the lamp posts and Holly looks strong and confident.  Holly looks slightly taller than Artem. Bruno enjoyed the atmosphere, and Craig said it was a little bumpy and both noticed Holly’s mistake. Len said it was light and fluffy but he got fed up with the poles in the end, and he wants Holly to step forward on her heels.

They score : 30

Chelsee and Pasha have the Quickstep, and she’s training and working hard all week on Waterloo Road. She beings behind an airline check-in desk, with Pasha rushing in with a case which is quickly dispensed with as they head off across the floor (jumbos flying overhead). It’s fast and furious, and Chelsee gets the ticket! Craig said “first class.” Len is certain that Chelsee won’t be checking out of this competition this week. Bruno called Chelsee a “pocket rocket.”

They score : 36 (four nines!)

Harry has to follow that routine ! This week, he and Aliona have the Waltz, and they begin close together, Aliona opening like a flower and turning quickly on the spot. Harry has great rise and fall and is completely in the romance of the dance, whispering and kissing Aliona to entice her back into the dance. Len didn’t get the bit out of hold, and wanted to give him a 10, but he just didn’t get it.  Alesha said that Harry makes ballroom look cool. Bruno loves Harry’s musical phrasing. Craig loved the whole routine, especially the story-telling. The judges end up bickering again !

They score : 35 (a 10 from Alesha – the first of the series)

Anita and Robin have the American Smooth this week, and they are working hard on technique. It’s a little stilted, and Anita’s lines aren’t finished properly. Bruno noticed the poor arabesque, and Craig noticed little mishaps and the lack of body contact, but said it was classy. Len noticed two heel turns and thought it was fabulous.

They score : 32 (Anita is amazed by the scores – she has been terrified all day!)

Robbie and Ola dance the Jive, to Love Man, made famous from Dirty Dancing.  He’s no Patrick Swayze; no-one could be, but he’s giving it his all. He ends by kissing the camera. Bruno said he’s never seen anyone work his hair as much, but he loved it even though it was far from technically perfect. Craig isn’t happy.  He said it was ploddy and the kicks and flicks were sloppy, though he did enjoy the characterization. Len loved it.

They score : 27

Russell and Flavia have the Tango this week; what will Russell make of its usual macho content ? He begins in bed, a crescent moon surrounding him, but he is soon in Flavia’s arms with his Tango face firmly in place. Flavia has been clever with the choreography, and it’s a long way from macho, but fun, with Russell finally crashing out with his teddy bear, onto the bed. Craig said that Russell’s head didn’t really look as though it belonged to him, even Len said it was a bit nodding dog and airy fairy. Bruno totally got it and thought it was brilliant.

They score : 24

Chelsee and Pasha head the leaderboard, with Nancy and Anton at the other end.

This week’s music was :

Chelsee and Pasha dance the Quickstep to Sing Sing Sing by Benny Goodman 

Holly and Artem dance the Viennese Waltz to Cry Me Out by Pixie Lott 

Harry and Aliona dance the Waltz to Come Away with Me by Norah Jones 

Anita and Robin dance the American Smooth to I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra

Robbie and Ola dance the Jive to Love Man by Otis Redding

Jason and Kristina dance to the Paso Doblé to I want it All by Queen 

Alex and James dance the Rhumba to Run by Leona Lewis 

Rory and Erin dance the Cha Cha Cha to Dance to the Music by Sly and the Family Stone

Audley and Natalie dance the Foxtrot to I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself by Dusty Springfield

Nancy and Anton dance the Paso Doblé to The Rodrigo Concerto

Lulu and Brendan dance the Samba to Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder

Russell and Flavia dance the Tango to Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics

All photographs © BBC Pictures. No unauthorized reproduction.

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Strictly catch up 

Strictly dance news

There’s no need to miss a trick on Strictly; if you didn’t catch any of the shows, you can catch up here!

The Strictly launch show 

Strictly week’s 12, Strictly’s Broadway night  

Strictly Results show

Week 12, 3,