Dancing With the Stars introduced four new dances this week- the hustle, the jitterbug, the salsa and the West Coast Swing. For a ten dance purist like myself, stretching to salsa and Argentine tango was one thing, but is this a step too far? Let’s see how the celebs fare with these new challenges.
West Coast Swing
Although it is more complex in reality, the easiest way to regard the West Coast Swing is as a slower version of the jive.
- Lance & Lacey: As a champion swinger, Lacey certainly looked and danced the part, but the same cannot be said about Lance. It may just have been that he was let down by the choreography, but surprisingly he did very little and ran the risk of looking like a dad dancer! Still, once again I loved Lacey’s outfit.
- Toni & Alec: Unlike Lance, Toni had plenty to do, but even though there were some technically good moments, overall it just didn’t pull together. I’m not sure how bouncy this dance should be as compared to the jive, but in terms of energy and performance it definitely felt lacklustre. Also, too long was wasted on a lift (I presume lifts are allowed this week).
As far as I can tell, the hustle is a 70s disco dance with elements of salsa and swing (in some ways it sounds a lot like a rock jive).
- Susan & Tony: Susan’s injured ankle turned out to be a broken foot, but nonetheless she made the choice to keep dancing through the pain. Unfortunately, her routine was a bit too careful- what was there was done well enough, but again it lacked energy and intensity.
- Warren & Kym: Whilst technically it wasn’t up there, Warren managed to bring his customary sense of fun and enjoyment to the dance, making it the most entertaining routine seen thus far. Not his best dance, but still one that makes you want to get up and join him on the dancefloor.
I already cover salsa in my Strictly posts, and it’s the one dance I know a little about, having seen it performed on there and now having taken three beginners’ classes. A club dance, it’s important to get down and dirty and do a lot of high speed arm tricks- but whatever you do, don’t put in any samba steps.
- Cloris & Corky: Having turned over a new leaf last week, Cloris actually had a good go at a proper salsa this time around- the steps were there, and Corky came up with another well-choreographed routine that showed off Cloris to the best of her abilities with some nice arm movements and even a section where she danced on her own. In fact, this was more like authentic salsa than some of the routines seen on Strictly!
- Maurice & Cheryl: Maurice and Cheryl had some hard times in training this week (poor Cheryl having to both learn the salsa and teach it for the first time), but in the end it paid off- they had a solid routine, and although not perfect, Maurice did very well, to the extent that I could concentrate purely on the steps rather than worrying about his contribution to the performance. A welcome return to form- but please get this guy some decent costumes.
- Brooke & Derek: Derek had to learn the jitterbug from the internet this week, but in the end it paid off as he and Brooke once again delivered a sparkling routine, outstripping everyone else by far. I only have one complaint to make- Derek, get a haircut before it’s too late!
- Cody & Julianne: Once again, it seemed that the jitterbug was the dance of the night as Cody and Julianne brought it to the floor with a packed, energetic routine. Overall, I didn’t think it was quite as good as Brooke & Derek, but given that Cody had to lead, it was a comparable effort.
- Brian Setzer got out the mullets and leopard print jackets for some retro swing dance, with Louis and Karina performing the fastest jive I’ve ever seen. It was strange to watch people dancing at 1.5-2x speed, but I have to admire their skill and precision.
- Ballroom kids: Round two began with Alisa (10) and Anthony (11) performing a jive with youthful energy. Competing against them were Mitchell (12) and Maria (13), who performed an excellent paso doble- quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen on the show. The judges rightfully put Mitchell and Maria through, although overall the standard was higher than other ‘Ballroom kids’ weeks.
- Macy’s Stars of Dance: to celebrate Macy’s 150th anniversary, this week saw the most ambitious routine yet. Complete with a makeover of the stage, four eras of dance were represented- the toe tapping thirties, the disco sixties, the hip-hop seventies and the robotic R ‘n’ B future. Although ballroom and Latin will always be my favourites, who couldn’t be impressed at the skill and effort needed to make this piece so slick and well presented?
- Elimination: with Cloris somehow escaping the bottom two, it was left to Toni & Alec and Susan & Tony to battle it out for the final place, with Toni & Alec ultimately going home. Although I was an early Toni supporter, she had fallen into a bit of a rut, so while I would have rather seen Cloris go, this was coming sooner rather than later.