Strictly Come Dancing week eleven: the semi-final

It’s the last hurdle to the final, and although all three remaining dancers would have made worthy finalists, only two places were open to them- someone had to go. Nonetheless, everyone was ready to dance their best to ensure that that someone wouldn’t be them.

As well as doing the final dance that they hadn’t covered earlier in the series, the semi-final sees each couple attempt an Argentine tango, a dance that most of the pros won’t even be familiar with (bar world champions Vincent and Flavia, of course). Unlike the sharp, staccato ballroom tango, the Argentine tango is a lot smoother, with a close hold, lots of leg flicks and a sultry seductive atmosphere.

Wow the crowd with an Argentine tango

  • Alesha and Matthew were first out onto the floor with a quickstep, a lively dance that Alesha really took to in training. With her white dress, Alesha was milky froth on the dance floor- both light and bright in her execution of the routine.

For the Argentine tango, Alesha transformed into a sexy seductress as she and Matthew danced to Evita’s “I’d be Good for you”; the bold opening and verse structure of the song lent itself to strong storytelling, but whilst the routine grew on me in rewatching I have to agree a little with the judges, again it lacked that little bit of attack that would have pushed it over the edge into sheer excellence. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it overall, and there was definitely a lot of smouldering passion on the dance floor.

  • Matt and Flavia: after last week’s meltdown, there was some worry as to whether Matt could get back on the horse (so to speak, there’s no riding involved) and dance a full routine. Luckily, he had world champion Flavia to guide him through the Argentine tango, but in some senses, this worked against him- the job of the man is to show off the woman, and when Flavia has so much talent to show off, it doesn’t leave Matt much to do. Nonetheless, Matt performed well for the most part, but there were moments when he just seemed to be standing around rather than actually doing anything.

The couple’s second dance was the infamous waltz which got a perfect score from the judges- sadly, for me the first watching was spoiled by my dislike of the song used (or at least the singer’s rendition of it), but when watched back with toned down volume I gained a greater appreciation of the actual dancing. Sadly, whilst Flavia’s dress was lovely and the routine was a nice one, for me it just didn’t seem like a 40/40 dance- for me it didn’t have the magic and memorability of my favourites.

  • Gethin and Camilla: Gethin’s first dance was the paso doble, a hard Latin dance to go up against two ballroom numbers. Despite some harsh criticism from the judges, I actually enjoyed the first half of the dance (bar the dragging Camilla under the cape opening), but a lack of strong Spanish lines later on weakened the performance somewhat.

Paso reservations aside, I absolutely loved Gethin’s Argentine tango- like Mark Ramprakash last year, he went for a Bond theme, and it really worked in creating the atmosphere of the man and his seductive ‘Bond girl’. It must have been hard to go out and dance after seeing Matt get a perfect score (and with Camilla having injured her shoulder), but Gethin performed admirably.

Results show

  • Pro jive: Matthew, Nicole, James and Ola came out to perform an energetic jive that lit up the floor with energy and enthusiasm (not to mention remind me how much I need to improve my own jive).
  • Showdance: like last year, Hanna Kartunnen and Victor de Silva came in to perform an exhibition showdance, although once again it was all about lifts rather than dancing. I admire the technical skill needed to perform all those lifts so effortlessly, but at the same time, I’m more of a fan of actual dancing than a pure lift routine- the lifts should be the icing on the cake, not the whole cake. On a side note, however, I love watching Hanna’s Latin routines with Paul Killick (go, YouTube).
  • Junior dancers: once again, some young ballroom dancers came in to make us adult beginners feel inferior- there’s always something a little odd watching children do ‘grown up dancing’, though.
  • James Blunt: with the Spice Girls having pulled out (oh noes, Emma Bunton sprained an ankle and can’t mime!), James Blunt took their place and as usual my main thought was ‘okay, bring the dancers out’. Fortunately, Darren, Lilia, James and Ola took to the stage to take our minds off the singing with yet another worthy rumba.

Dance-off
All attractions over with, the inevitable results hour had to come, and to my surprise, Alesha made it through without having to go into the dance-off- given the look of relief and happiness on her face and her earlier certainty that she would go out this week, it was to her surprise too. Instead, Gethin and Matt had to battle it out with their waltz and Argentine tango respectively, and although it was hard for anyone to choose between them, ultimately it was Gethin whose Strictly dream had to end.

Join me next week for the final, when Alesha and Matt have to knuckle down and perform five dances each. Who will lift the coveted mirror ball trophy?

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