Strictly Come Dancing week nine: why can’t I go every week?

So, it was back to the comfortable but much less exciting armchair for this week’s Strictly, and so I can no longer tantalise you with tales of being there for the live show. I can, however, mention that I met Anton du Beke at his book signing in Waterstones last week- I now fully understand the much talked about ‘du Beke effect’.

This week was the first time our celebrities were marked on two individual dances- one ballroom, one latin- but alongside this change came some sad news. Due to the death of her father last Monday, Kelly Brook decided that she could not continue with the competition and pulled out- a real shame, but understandable under the circumstances. The sympathy of a random stranger on the internet may not be worth much, but my condolences go out to her and her family.

On with the show

  • Matt and Flavia began the evening with a tango to What You Were Waiting For, complete with a touch of Argentine flavour. Even though they strictly (no pun intended) shouldn’t be seen in the ballroom tango, it was a shame that the Argentine flicks we saw in training were obscured somewhat by Flavia’s dress, but it was a strong routine overall, full of drama and staccato movement. My only real complaint was that it felt a bit slow and lacking at points, almost as if momentum had unduly leaked out.

In the Latin round, Matt came out again to disprove the notion that male celebrities cannot rumba- the opening and ending may have been a bit long-winded, but there was also a lot of good basic content and some nice lines from Matt.

  • Gethin and Camilla: Gethin had the benefit of a session with an acting coach this week, and just as it did for Matt Dawson, it really helped Gethin tap into the performance side of the dance (maybe I need to see one of these magical acting coaches). His first dance of the evening was a beautiful waltz that was both tranquil and romantic- like all good waltzes, I wanted it to go on forever. Not only was Gethin’s footwork on the money, but he was really able to make a connection with Camilla this time out- what an improvement.

Whilst his salsa was more about wild abandon than technical accomplishment, it was still an enjoyable dance overall- another one of those that makes you want to get up and join in.

  • Letitia and Darren: Letitia was ill this week, and it certainly had an adverse effect on her performances. Luckily, her quickstep was still a solid effort, and although the dangling material from her sleeves obscured my view at times, overall it seemed to be both light and bright. Sadly, the same could not be said for her cha cha- Letitia may have been trying hard, but not only is it a hard dance to tackle when your energy is being sapped by illness, but a lack of hip action took its toll on the performance.
  • Kenny and Ola performed a foxtrot in the ballroom round, and whilst Kenny spent the first few bars walking around and not really doing much (he even said something to the judges!), once he got into hold he was able to pull off a creditable performance. Unfortunately, for all the improvement he was able to showcase in the foxtrot, he wasn’t able to match it with his rumba, which was woefully poor. Whilst Ola did the majority of the work, Kenny managed to get away with abandoning any semblance of rumba steps in favour of never moving far off the spot- he made a few good poses, but the actual dancing was sorely lacking.
  • Alesha and Matthew came out last once again in both ballroom and latin rounds, starting with a tango that was electrifying and dramatic despite a rather unattractive gold and red ‘ketchup and mustard’ dress. Some heel leads were missed, but it was a strong performance overall- and dancing to Jealousy certainly helped that.

Unfortunately, despite the praise from the judges, I was not too gone on her samba- to me it had the steps but just lacked the party atmosphere that the dance requires. As with her jive and salsa, I just didn’t feel the ‘wow’ factor I want.

Results show

  • Pro Latin medley: all the professional dancers took to the floor for a mix of cha cha, samba and salsa that was thoroughly enjoyable, but lacking in any real opportunities for couples to take a solo spotlight and really strut their stuff. Poor Anton and Erin were relegated to the back, probably because of their status as ballroom specialists.
  • Vincent and Flavia performed an absolutely beautiful tearjerker of a waltz- a wonderful rebuttal for all the rumours that the tabloids have been printing about them.
  • Kylie came out to sing (or was it mime?) in a bizarrely wide black dress, with accompanying dance moves from all the male pros- not the most fascinating performance, but I couldn’t help feeling jealous of her, getting to share the floor with Anton, Darren and Ian all at once.

Dance-off
For once, my prediction was accurate, with both Letitia and Kenny ending up in the bottom two and having to repeat their highest scoring dances (quickstep and foxtrot- no surprises there). Letitia seemed to be feeling better at that point as she managed to improve on her performance, but whilst Kenny’s foxtrot was his best dance to date, it was clearly time for him to depart the floor.

Join me next week for the quarter final, when we lament the fact that not only will we now be having a two couple final, but that said final is only a stone’s throw away. Why does it have to end?

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