Strictly Come Dancing week ten: Quarter-final nerves

Four dancers, three places in the semi-final- who would miss out? In the week leading up to the episode, everyone seemed certain that Letitia would be the one to go, but with everything hinging on who could both perform on the night and attract the capricious public vote, nothing could be certain.

Two more dances from everyone

  • Gethin and Camilla: Keen to show that last week wasn’t a fluke, Gethin came out first with a creditable American Smooth consisting of foxtrot rhythm and two lifts. Although the first lift was not quite as polished as it could have been (no surprise given its technical difficulty), the second was a nice coda to a strong dance that showed off both worthy footwork and a decent amount of rise and fall.

In the Latin round, Gethin came out and jived to Knock on Wood, and although the footwork seemed a bit flat-footed to me, he nailed it with regards to performance and personality. Camilla came up trumps with choreography that perfectly matched the music, and so despite my technical worries (then again, what do I know?), the performance was fun and enjoyable overall.

  • Alesha and Matt have been the ones to beat for week upon week, and it seemed that it would be no exception when they stepped out to do a Viennese Waltz. Commentators Philip Jackson and Erin Boag had their reservations about the level of performance, but I adored the dance- it was one of the more involving Viennese waltzes I’ve seen on the show, and the way it moved up a notch during the pivots partway through only cemented my love of the routine.

Unfortunately, even with a lovely dress and the very appropriate Toccata to dance to, I just couldn’t get into Alesha’s paso doble. Aside from a few mistakes and another “we forgot the routine and winged it” at the end, the steps seemed to be there, but it didn’t explode with passion and drama in the way I wanted. To be honest, I’ve found this with most of Alesha’s Latin- I just can’t seem to connect to the dance and experience the ‘wow’ factor that I’m desperately craving. Even so, give me that routine, that dress and a certain someone to dance it with, and I’ll be happy.

  • Letitia and Darren: free from the constraints of illness, Letitia was able to pull off a lovely waltz in the ballroom round that was most probably her best performance to date. Unfortunately, her jive was not quite up to standard; she put a lot of energy into it and it didn’t look so bad when I played it back, but on the night the footwork seemed somewhat lacking. Even so, it’s a great improvement considering how Letitia has struggled with the Latin dances.
  • Matt and Flavia: Poor, poor Matt- the nerves got to him, and as a result, both of his performances suffered. First up was the foxtrot- after a nice intro, Matt was plagued by stiffness and technical errors, and things went from bad to worse when he clearly forgot his routine and became unable to recover. The samba was somewhat better, but still lacking in the characteristic bounce- much as I admire Flavia and her ability to create complex choreography, I think she needs to simplify it a bit so that Matt can learn the steps in the time available.

Results show

  • Argentine tango: Vincent and Flavia once again performed their trademark dance, this time using a different routine to last year. The two champions put on a technically intricate performance that I could have watched for hours- I must see more.
  • Formation Latin champions: a German team performed a formation Latin dance with efficiency and enthusiasm- it was a nice routine but it was something I felt you had to be there for so that could concentrate on all the couples instead of being restricted by the camera-work.
  • Cliff Richard continued to defy the aging process in order to perform, whilst Anton, Erin, Brendan and Nicole took the floor for some eye-catching waltzing.

Dance-off
Although I was fully expecting Letitia to be in the bottom two, the person who joined her was somewhat unexpected- against all odds, it wasn’t Matt, but Alesha. Both women had to waltz again, and each did a great job, but unsurprisingly it was Alesha that the judges chose to save. Letitia has improved greatly since that rumba in week two, but as the weakest of the four dancers, it seems fair that she went this week.

Join me for the semi-final, in which the final three battle it out to see who can make it all the way- and along the way, they’ll all be performing a sexy Argentine tango.

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