In what feels like the blink of an eye, we’ve come to semi-final week- the last leg on an intense road to getting a shot at that mirror-ball trophy. Who could pull it out of the bag, and who would be forced to hang up their shoes just one week short of the grand finale?
- Brooke & Derek (jive): Having mastered technique, Brooke decided she needed to focus on wow factor in this dance, but unfortunately it all went a bit pear-shaped. After a slow start in which Derek did all the work, the routine felt very shallow, filled with tricks and mistakes, and lacking in basic jive and Brooke’s usual fabulous precision and technique.
- Cody & Julianne (paso doble): The lovely Julianne came back to the floor this week, but unfortunately this wasn’t the best celebration of her return. Whilst the military costumes distracted me from any positives the performance might have had, for the most part Cody looked like some sort of dance android, proving stiff and wooden rather than strong and fluid.
- Warren & Kym (mambo): Warren always knows how to generate a good atmosphere, but in terms of actual technique this dance felt weak and lacking in content. I couldn’t help feeling that it was just a lacklustre reprise of things we’ve seen before.
- Lance & Lacey (mambo): Despite a slow start and a few moments where Lacey seemed to be doing all the work, on the whole this was the best dance of the entire first round. Once Lance got warmed up, his footwork was fast and sharp, and the whole routine was good fun to watch without compromising on steps or technique.
Before the round proper began, we got treated to a professional salsa- a far cry from my pathetic beginner efforts.
- Brooke & Derek (salsa): After a dud jive, Brooke was back on form with this fantastic salsa, filled with lifts and tricks alongside basic steps. How can a mother of four be so incredibly flexible?
- Cody & Julianne (salsa): Maybe it was just the fact that he had to follow both Brooke and a pro routine, but Cody and Julianne’s salsa just couldn’t match up to what had come before. It was fun and reasonably entertaining, but it didn’t quite ignite my fire.
Next up was another pro performance- an insanely fast, high energy jitterbug. Could anyone even approach that level of quality?
- Warren & Kym (jitterbug): Once again the technique was rather lacking and there’s no denying that Warren was generally flat-footed, but once again it’s evident that he knows how to whip up a crowd. Another routine of good, plain fun.
- Lance & Lacey (jitterbug): This was another routine packed with fun, and a damned sight more technique than Warren managed- Lance even managed to carry on without missing a beat after accidentally kicking off his shoe! I still prefer Brooke’s number earlier in the season, but this was very good.
- Aretha Franklin was first up, performing the uninspiring Chain, although at least our pros managed to enliven proceedings with a cha cha. Later on, she performed her iconic song Respect, with accompanying performance from reigning champion Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas. It was great to see these two on the floor again-I’d forgotten how good they are together.
- Leona Lewis: there’s no escaping her, is there? Even a pro rumba from Maks and Karina could make me like this song.
- Julianne Hough got in on the singing act with her own country single; she has a surprisingly powerful voice but it doesn’t seem terribly polished and the song didn’t do her many favours. I wasn’t even enthralled by Mark, Derek and Lacey spinning and jumping in accompaniment.
- John Legend: just when you thought the singing was over, along comes John Legend with “Green Light”- not a particularly good song, but the best of a poor crop.
- Elimination: Although not necessarily the bottom two, Cody & Julianne and Warren & Kym were left to fight it out for one last place in the final. In the end, though, it was Cody & Julianne, who went home- the right choice at this stage in the competition.