What a great week of choreography and performances from our celebrities and their professional partners. Such a huge turn around from previous weeks of mixed confusions of flying cushion and dish cloths disasters – rather than content full Quicksteps and Paso Doble caping… this week clearly it was time to dance and that they did this Saturday night.
Entering into the 8th week of the competition it’s interesting to see now who have become the leaders, who have burnt out and who have been pushed out by you the voters. With one or two slow starters now starting to catch up it’s not surprising to see that it’s the boys now beginning to find their mojo and give the girls a run for their money.
I was devastated to see Rachel and Abbey in the bottom two having to go head to head in the dance off but sadly that is how it goes with this show. I don’t remember a year going by where there hasn’t been a shock illumination and this year it was sadly the loss of our most gorgeous Rachel Riley who was robbed of being able to continue in this great competition.
So let’s get on and see what ‘Dame Hardy’ here (as someone calls me) has her eye on this week with our yummy celebrities and their dance partners.
Ashley and Ola – Quickstep
This is the dance of the swans. And what do I mean by that? Quite simply you have to be uber cool on top but under the water you have to paddle like crazy and just how brilliantly did Ashley deliver that – with absolute perfection!
Absolutely brilliant, I just love it when I see someone improve…and in such a short time. This was the week Ashley not only delivered a fantastic dance but he nailed his posture. This great posture really then showed off a fantastic and very challenging routine. This was also a very fast piece of music which he could have easily forgotten his poise in. But he didn’t he maintained his swan-like-ness til the end. Fast music normally means you’ll more often than not look down to see what your feet are doing but he didn’t he passed with flying colours.
Susanna and Kevin – Waltz
Well I put it out on Twitter that I could smell a 10 for Susanna this week having executed a sensational Waltz but sadly she was only granted straight 9s by the judges! Was she robbed – absolutely and I have listed my reasons below for you all to view:
- Expertly delivering difficult choreography
- Fantastic chemistry between them both
- The contents of the routine had so many challenges
- She’d hugely improved her top line
- She moved with grace, elegance and speed across the floor
- Executed really great footwork
- Excellent body contact was maintained
- Well delivered fast pivots
- Superb musicality partnered with brilliant choreography
- They gave the music meaning
- And an emotionally connecting performance which is what this show is all about
- A no nonsense full on truly great dance performance
So worthy of a ten but hey… I guess they never gave Mark Ramprakash and I a ten until late on in the show – so this may actually be a good sign!
Fiona and Anton – Paso Doble
Watching Fiona perform early on in the show I actually thought she had improved and delivered a great Paso Doble. But as the night went on and I was able to see the other celebrities perform I started to see that Fiona may start to be in trouble with keeping up with the pack now. It was interesting to see the judges very opinionated about her dance, as when I reviewed it I was delighted to see there was a lot of Paso content rather than just entertainment waffle as seen from some in previous weeks. Great Separations, Twists and Flamenco styling and it was a lot more animated than any of her previous weeks. However, to help get more passion and drive in her performance we need to look at her footwork, as there was one major problem… no heel leads!!! It’s the all-important attention to detail now that will prevail.
Mark and Iveta – Rumba
This was the first week that I sadly thought our lovely Mark was going to land himself in the bottom two. This was a dance I felt he just couldn’t get into, but don’t worry a lot of the celebrities will go through this you just have to hope you survive until the next week and come back with force as we have seen from many celebrity performances of the past. Mark was lucky this time as he was saved but he is going to have to improve his movement and use of feet for example as foot contact with the floor at all times makes movement glide easier.
I always say to my students “please clean my floor with your feet darling and leave no dust behind” ensuring they fully use their feet or I may even place a piece of paper under their feet and it must stay there whilst they dance. Tough I can hear you say but they all love me when they can do it as it feels great to be able to really use your feet and dance.
Sophie and Brendan – Argentine Tango
Well Strictly Come Dancing really are mixing the dances up this year with Argentine Tango being danced normally in the semi finals or at least later in the show but this year seen being brought forward to just over half way in! So, this would mean the pressure was on for Brendan and Sophie to get all of their training strengths together and they really didn’t disappoint. With great choreography executed miles miles better than last week, intense foot actions, strong direction changes, great height challenges with the lifts and drops offering texture to this performance left us all content with their delivery. But could they have done more and do we want more from them…???? The answer has to be yes, firstly because the judges went on and on about what they wanted so they clearly see that Sophie has much more potential still but more importantly we can see they are both having a ball in the training rooms and we want to see this newly found friendship succeed on the dance floor and make fireworks for us all to enjoy. So I guess the best way to demonstrate what we are seeing is to relate it to singing…You see I feel fabulous singing in the shower but how that would translate if I had to walk out at Wembley, you could argue would be quite different.! So this is what Sophie needs to understands when she dances as she feels she is getting it right…but what we are seeing is not quite the same.
As I always say as my ‘Hardyism’ – feeling and doing are two different things. I feel like a young super model… Reality is quite different. Possibly a little more mirror work could help or to video herself and look back at it. Here’s to next week.
Ben and Kristina – Jive
This was the best dance I’ve seen Ben deliver. Light on his feet, fast, full of energy, entertaining and of course a sprinkling of that gorgeous smile on his face ….and not a sign of a pillow anywhere!!! He had such a fantastic action due to his strong quads and well trained ankles from Rugby training so the problem was not his feet but rather an optical illusion as it was a problem with his upper body with the arms needing to work separately and more free to his legs to give the image of freedom and lightness rather than the slightly heavy look that the judges implied he had. It’s a trick to the eye but it lightens the action when the arms are different to the legs. But once again I want to highlight a great improvement from Ben and slowly the men start to creep forward to challenge the ladies!!!
Abbey and Al-yash – Charleston
I loved to hear Craig say it was a Charleston with Bob Fosse influences – as it really was. With the Fosse famous moves including sideways shuffles, rolling of shoulders and turned in knees oh and never forget his demand of always a sexy look!!! Well these two well and truly nailed it. Oh and the new look hair of the cabaret bob was sensational!! What a way to come back from being in the dance off the previous week. I just love a competition and these two are not going down without a fight. I also have to pick up on her having the strength of mind to take on using a hat in her performance. She could have so easily just started with it on then thrown it off as most do when using a hat as a prop but the skill of actually dancing it on and off her head and interacting at the same time with Al-yash was excellent. Pure class and even though it did fall off in the end, taking the gamble of using it was excellent and really brought depth of performance with this dance.
Patrick and Anya – American Smooth
And closing the night with pure Hollywood glam was the shock of the night for me (apart from Susanna not getting any tens… I’ll move on I promise). And even with a slight dress incident at the end it was not going to ruin this incredible American Smooth by Patrick and our new professional young lady Anya. I love a surprise and this definitely was one. Having not been a big fan of Patrick’s in the past and ever believing the men are always slow burners this was never more so proven than with Patrick. This was an incredible entertainment packed dance with lifts and smiles to light up Broadway. It was slightly more gimmicky than I would have liked so I”d probably have given a 9.5 on the night… just to be difficult but it really was such brilliant dance and such a change, he really looked as though he had finally embraced dance. With great drive across the floor he really lived and performed the choreography to the full. The lift work was great but with the obvious wobbles but most of all I really loved the choreography on the steps by the band. Genius. Technically still a bit of gapping which has been an issue with Patrick before – but with this demanding choreography it’s a gamble needed to be taken and hope they can keep working on perfecting that all important body contact.
So next weekend it’s off to Blackpool, so exciting! A handful of lucky celebrities and their partners will be entering into the history books as that is what Blackpool Tower and dancing is all about. With the ballroom opening way back in 1894 nearly 120 years ago, people have been dancing on those floor boards for a very long time and they know what they are looking for up there!!! The celebrities are going to enjoy the glamor and the amazing pure showbiz atmosphere that everyone feels whenthey perform in Blackpool.
So remember dancing at Blackpool is all about performing, delivering entertainment with technical precision and exude energy at all cost as there will be one huge audience cheering them on…but most importantly enjoy every moment as it’s magical.
To learn to dance at Karen Hardy Studios or to buy a gift for your friend or loved one, contact emma@Karenhardystudios.com and we’ll have you all enjoying for yourselves the magic of Blackpool – very soon.
Until next week,
World Masters, International, United Kingdom & British National Champion of Latin American Dance
Winner Strictly Come Dancing 2006
Carl Alan & BDF Award winner for services to dance
Director of Award Winning Karen Hardy Studios