Strictly Come Dancing week three: thoughts

Week three of the competition has arrived, and at long last everyone is dancing together to either a tango or a jive. I absolutely adore the tango, but this week’s song choices left something to be desired, with a ratio of five pop songs to one traditional theme. Meanwhile, the jive is fast and furious, but can everyone keep up with the footwork?

I’d also like to sing the praises of a certain Vincent Simone for his work on the expert commentary this week, and his behind-the-scenes piece for It Takes Two was good too. Go Vincent!

Everyone competes together for the first time

  • Gabby and James opened proceedings with a creditable jive that was solid and energetic; I do however feel sorry for James, who has apparently lost two stone since he started training Gabby- the poor guy is going to waste away to nothingness by the end.
  • Gethin and Camilla did the first tango of the night, and much as I like Gold, it’s not a track that screams ‘tango’ to me. With such an inappropriate music choice, the atmosphere of the tango was already nowhere in evidence, and sadly the dancing did nothing to bring it back- Gethin lacked the drama and strength to really lead Camilla, and his opening steps looked more like he was about to go into a paso doble to me.
  • Penny and Ian seemed to be at a disadvantage in the jive due to being ‘too tall’ for the dance- of course Ian didn’t put a foot wrong, but Penny did look a bit gangly and unable to invest her whole body with the energy and bounciness needed for the jive. Ultimately, it just wasn’t her dance, and although the fifteen bar intro was probably meant to reduce the amount of actual jiving she had to do, it just came across as a slow start.
  • Kenny and Ola were next to tango, and I have to agree with the judges when they said he came on too strong- he tried hard but it lacked finesse. Perhaps this is understandable, however, given that they lost two days of training due to an injury. Again, Call Me was not the best choice of music for this dance.
  • Matt and Flavia’s jive wasn’t perfect, but he did have a good go at pulling off a solid routine, and hopefully with a few more weeks and a touch more confidence he’ll really blossom. I wasn’t too gone on the air guitar (or should that be leg guitar?) at the beginning of the routine, but it certainly established character, whilst I’m glad to see more of Flavia this year.
  • Kate and Anton also failed to go with traditional tango music, but at least Jem’s They seemed appropriate in its own way (although it set a mood of ‘pale blue and icy’ rather than ‘red, fiery passion and aggression’). I have to admit that the first time I watched their routine I was feasting my eyes too much on the lovely Mr. du Beke to pay much attention to Kate, but on rewatch I gave her closer scrutiny. The judges remained harsh on her, but to her credit she did well on the slower steps and even managed an excellent rondé- she did however seem rather unsure on the faster parts and a lack of confidence prevented her from getting into the character of the dance.
  • Dominic and Lilia put together a jive routine that once again played to Dominic’s “cheeky chappie” image, but since the dance requires more speed and precision than the cha cha, it didn’t go down as well with the judges. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch, although I’d like to see how Dominic will handle the ballroom side of things.
  • Letitia and Darren tangoed to Material Girl, and whilst this was again a strange musical choice, Darren choreographed well to the music. Sadly, as excellent as he was, Letitia didn’t quite live up to the dance- it was better than the rumba, but as an actress I expected to see her more in character.
  • John and Nicole put together a fun jive, and as Len said, John “danced like a bloke”- it lacked in finesse but he was certainly having a good time. John certainly has potential but as the judges and Nicole have told him, he needs to stand up straighter- his hunched over shoulders make him look hesitant and will lose him points in the ballroom.
  • Erin and Willie were the only couple to use traditional tango music (I believe Erin was also the only one to stick with traditional music this time last year when she danced with Peter Schmeichel)- kudos to Erin for sticking with what works best. It was a well choreographed routine, and Willie really tried hard, but his posture let him down, and his tango face looked a bit odd.
  • Alesha and Matthew pulled off an energetic jive, but sadly 36/40 seemed too high for both this stage in the competition and for the dance overall- just compare it to Jill Halfpenny’s superb jive in season two, which only got 32/40 on first performance.
  • Kelly and Brendan are the teachers’ pets this year, but their tango to ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme (the final odd music choice of the night) left something to be desired for me. Yes, she looked the part and had no problem carrying off the slower posing moments, but she seemed very shaky during the faster steps. She even stumbled at one point, although Brendan claimed this was his fault for making a mistake- definitely not a 35/40 performance.

The results show
Amazingly, the results show didn’t seem to drag this week, and we were treated to some great pro dances. First up, all the pros showed off what was meant to be an American Smooth, but actually turned out to be a quickstep (AS is meant to use waltz, tango, Viennese waltz and foxtrot rhythms, but no quickstep)- nonetheless it was a nice routine finished off by an impressive throw and catch. Next up was Vincent and Flavia’s fast and furious samba, accompanied by a samba troupe in revealing carnival outfit; finally opera singers Andrea Bocelli and Katherine Jenkins performed onstage with an accompanying dance from Anton and Erin. It was all very good, but the camera angles ruined it somewhat for me- when Anton and Erin are dancing, I want to see them and listen to the singer, so don’t cut away.

Dance Off
To the surprise of everyone, Kate and Anton escaped the bottom two again, instead landing John and Nicole and Willie and Erin in the danger zone. Both tried their hardest in the dance-off, but ultimately all the judges were behind John and Nicole, and I have to admit I would probably have gone for him too. That being said, I’m sad to see Erin go so soon, and Willie shedding tears on Monday’s ITT was sad.

This Saturday, our remaining celebrities have to dance either a samba or an American Smooth (a change from the usual week four menu of foxtrot and paso), but who will make it through the next round of the competition?

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