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Former Latin American World & European champion. Open British, UK & International Latin American Champion. Professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing with Diarmuid Gavin, Nicholas Owen & John Barnes.

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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween Week Review

AS you all know from my review of Broadway Week, I am not a fan of themed weeks & so far this series, the couples haven’t needed an additional excuse to limit their content & increase their use of props.  This is a shame really as many of the couples don’t need all this ‘ embellishment’ as they are good enough to produce some really beautiful & memorable DANCE routines.  For me the stand out routine so far has been Chelsee & Pasha Quickstep last week which I really hoped would set the tone and standard for this weeks dances BUT it wasn’t to be and again I felt a little let down & disappointed with mostly the celebs who can actually dance & those who are on the right track to improvement.  This is only my opinion and again, I am sure many of the millions who watch the show probably feel otherwise & perhaps I need to look at the show through their non professional eyes – I doubt that will ever happen though ;-)

Russell & Flavia  - Samba

Unfortunately this was not Russell’s week.  It seemed to lack his usual exuberance and flair – perhaps all due to the troubles & worries regarding his knee? It was still enjoyable to watch and as usual Flavia did a great job with the content of the dance, there certainly was plenty of it! He had a very routine full of basic content including: Cruzado walks & locks, Volta’s, Rolling off the arm, Solo samba section, Circular Voltas, Spot Voltas, Bota Fogas, Criss Cross Voltas & Walks in shadow position – WOW that’s a lot of content to remember & learn but well done to Russell for rising to the challenge which he always does.  Perhaps there was a little too much (I can’t believe I am saying this) though considering all the problems he was having with his knee & he made a few mistakes, lost his timing and generally he lacked the sparkle that is required for the Samba.  Saying all that though, it was still an enjoyable dance to watch and I hope he will be back to his usual bubbly self next week!

Content:  8     Theme:  6       Overall:  6

Chelsee & Pasha – Tango

It was a great intro that wasn’t too long and introduced us to the dance very nicely.  It had a very nice Tango feel with great neat and sharp lines.  The content was fabulous again and consisted of:  Open promenade, Open reverse turn, Progressive link progressive side step, Reverse turn, Rock step, Tango walks, locks & chasses, Fallaway promenade, Swivels, Contra check, Fallaway reverse slip pivot and Oversway – absolutely wonderful display of including so many basic recognisable steps in a complex and interesting routine & Chelsee copes so well with all this choreography!  I do feel that Chelsee still needs to work on her upper body strength and frame and also her core muscles, as she can sometimes look a little floppy, especially when she gets tired as the routine progresses.  She made a little mistake coming out of their Contra check in the beginning but generally I found it to be a very entertaining dance with great story telling.  I won’t comment much on the wardrobe malfunction except to say that perhaps the wardrobe department should have known better than to put her in such a revealing dress with too little support however, the malfunction made no difference to me in their dancing.

Content:  9     Theme: 8        Overall: 8

Audley & Natalie – Jive

I thought that although their Intro was rather long, it couldn’t have been much shorter as the song only started properly after all the faffing at the piano anyway.  I did find the song a bit slow but thought Audley portrayal and character so enjoyable to watch – he really looks like he enjoys every minute of dancing.  For me there was too much use of Lindy hop steps instead of Jive flicks and kicks & this can make the Jive look heavy – you don’t need to point your feet or use a fast straightening of the knee in Lindy Hop kicks either like you do in Jive so this can slow the whole look of the dance down.  The chorus contained a lot of messing around and repetition & looked a little messy and unrehearsed.  There wasn’t enough proper Jive content and their dance only contained the following:  a small Jive flick & kick section, chasses, Fallaway throwaway, chicken walks and a variation of rotating check American Spin. Within this content, I felt that Audley needed to pick his knees up more & get his weight over the balls of his feel more to create a light and bouncy Jive action instead of it looking flat footed & heavy.  But, I cannot fault his enthusiasm and enjoyment no matter what dance he is doing!

Content: 5      Theme:  6       Overall: 5

Alex & James – Paso Doble

This is a difficult song to create a great Paso dance to – I remember Brendan & Sarah Manners using it in series 2 & it was a good song choice for them so hopefully it will be a good choice for Alex & James too.

Alex’s interpretation of the song in the long intro was very good and believable, the acting part usually is always very good for her apart from last week but I was glad to see her back to herself.  They began their Paso content with:  Promenade to Counter promenade into Twist turns into Pivots, all nicely done but I felt it lacked upper body strength, shape and extension from Alex – she can give it a bit more ‘oomph’ I feel! They had a nice Paso highlight and drop but it looked a little like Alex hangs onto James sometimes and in turn causes her to look like James is pulling her into the next position instead of Alex moving her own body weight.  I feel that this is a general problem for Alex and one she should focus a lot more on fixing.  Their Chasse capes were good although there was a timing issue.  On the whole I thought the use of Alex’s skirt was a little excessive and instead of enhancing her movement, it exaggerated the overuse of the skirt use in place of movement.  Despite Alex not being a very aggressive dancer in this Paso, I did feel that her characterisation was in keeping with the theme James created as Alex still looked herself in the dance without compromising herself.

Content:  6     Theme:  7       Overall:  7

Holly & Artem - American Smooth

This was a risky, brave, inventive, characteristic, theatrical & spell binding routine but I was left wondering what type of American Smooth this was supposed to be as there really were no recognisable American Smooth steps.  There were however lots of American Smooth lifts, tricks & theatre but for me, that doesn’t make an American Smooth dance.  This therefore is very difficult to comment on dance wise as there it had hardly any content to comment technically on – although I thought Holly’s frame, head position & poise was excellent when she was in hold with Artem.   She is very elegant and has beautiful use of arms and length of line but I would like her to ‘live’ the dance more in expression and give herself more to the dance… there is a dancer in her just waiting to break free I am sure.

Content:  4     Theme:  9       Overall:  7

Nancy & Anton – Rumba

This was a great Rumba song choice & I hoped to see some good, basic Rumba dancing…
Nancy is naturally sexy without even trying to be but, as for so many female celebs, when it comes to being sexy in Rumba, they just look the complete opposite and it doesn’t work.  Their Rumba consisted of the following:  1 back basic into a type of underarm turn, Hand to Hand, Rope spin, double Spiral & Opening out section. It was more recognisable content than usual but, so poorly executed - The timing was rushed to the point of being almost out of time, there was no hip action, straightening of knees or foot pressure into the floor.  There was a lift that was really unflattering and didn’t do anything for Nancy.  To be fair though, when Nancy was posing and not doing too much, she actually looked OK and less is more is definitely what she could concentrate on when getting into character in the dance however, I would have like to have seen that she actually was taught basic fundamentals and work on them instead of all the time wasting and faffing that went on.

Content:  4     Theme:  5       Overall: 4

Harry & Aliona – Tango

I loved the theme and look for their set & their song was a good choice to set the theme of the dance.  Again, a very long intro but it was captivating and had good story telling and Harry & Aliona were very precise in their movements and very in tune with each other.  Once they did get going, their Tango lacked considerable basic Tango steps and consisted manly of lines & lunges revolving around turns and spins to create effect.  The basic steps that I notice were: Walks in promenade, outside Rock step with flicks, Oversway, half Standing Spin, Turning Locks & Backward rocks however, there was a lack of movement around the dance floor i.e. using all available dance space in a moving dance along the line of dance & this is reflected in the lack of moving Tango steps and rather too much usage of static ‘effect’ steps.  It is a shame as Harry really is a good dancer and has a good frame & looks the part on the dance floor.  I would just like to see him do more of what he is capable of doing.

Content:  4     Theme:  9       Overall:  7

Robbie & Ola – Paso Doble

I thought their music choice could have been great if they had used all the musical accents & syncopations but instead, they used too many whole beats consecutively to dance to and not enough syncopations which in turn made it look heavy & slow instead of their Paso having pace & power.  A little too much ‘walking timing’.  It surprisingly lacked Paso shapes due to a lack of bent knees and pelvis forward posture with upper body rotation, which in turn creates a strong Paso shape.  Paso shape also needs to be created by using your sides in opposition to each other meaning that whilst one side is stretching, the other is compressing to create side shaping. 

Their dance also lacked enough basic steps to show off these tradition Paso features and only contained promenade & counter promenade with Pivot ending repeated, lots of Paso walks but not a lot of Paso dancing & a variation of Chasse Cape.  I felt that there was a lack of commitment to the steps with power & aggression & a lack of strong heel leads & foot speed to create more of marching feel rather than a walking feel. It also looked as if Robbie wasn’t really in charge of the dance or of Ola.

I felt that the over use of the ‘crotch grabbing’ was inappropriate & excessive for the theme of the dance and generally I was disappointed with this dance as I am usually a fan of Robbie’s exuberance and love for dancing.  On this occasion however, it didn’t look like he was truly into this dance.  However, I thought his cape work was very good & brave of him to attempt when so much could go wrong.

Content: 4      Theme:  6       Overall:  5

Anita & Robin – Tango

Great acting & characterisation from Anita & she is at her best when she can sink her teeth in to a strong role & theme.

This was thankfully a good and quick Intro and straight into some great Tango choreography:  Fallaway reverse, Forward locks, Turning locks, Oversway, Swivels, The Chase & Flick tap steps in Promenade & all done within character.  I would however like to have seen a more staccato Tango action & it could have been a bit more aggressive & attacking in leg & body action with more of a staccato foot action.  Anita’s frame was a little passive for me and she could have used her head more sharply & had more of an ‘aloof’ upper body extension.  I felt it lacked speed and for me it never quite got going in terms of power & movement  & there were a number of mistakes in The Chase step & a little too much time wasting in the middle of the dance however, the characterisation was superb & lovely to watch.

Content:  7     Theme:  7       Overall:  7

Lulu & Brendan – Paso Doble

Theatrically, Brendan never fails to impress & come up with some entertaining routine whether you like it or not! I liked this & it seemed so did Lulu.  Once again a very long intro but, it was very entertaining and theatrical and leant itself to the theme of the dance so almost forgiven.  Lulu was very convincing in character and I felt that this was definitely one of her better dances.  She has put her trust in Brendan and this shows and great to see that Brendan also trusts her with more content and that she will work hard at remembering it.  There was great movement and coverage of the dance floor and I enjoyed the use of their bat wings to enhance their shapes and not detract from it – they looked like choreographed arm movements.  Their Paso consisted of a number of great basic steps: Bota Fogas in shadow position, Paso Locks. Grand Circle, Flamenco group, Twist Turns & Chasse Capes.  I did however feel that the basic steps in hold lacked strong shapes fro Lulu & that she needs to work on strengthening her core & frame to stop her looking like Brendan is also pulling her around.  She sometimes looked unsure of her timing & exact footwork but she is getting better at covering these things up & is such a fantastic performer to the point where if you blinked you’d miss the errors.

Content: 6      Theme:  8       Overall:  7

Jason & Kristina – Quickstep

Jason is the ultimate performer, great at characterisation  & so watchable & this dance was no exception.  I thought him to be very brave to dance a bit of Quickstep without Kristina & therefore proving that he can dance on his own without relying on his partner dancing around him to make him look good.  I loved their look – classy, elegant & non-detracting from their dancing but rather enhancing it.  They danced very in sync with each other with great body contact in some very difficult steps & the content of their dance was very impressive: Series of hops, skips, chasses & Jumps in Promenade, Charleston, Standing spin, Chasses in Promenade, Locks & runs, Running Finish, Running right turn & 4 Quick Run.  Making for a well-rounded Quickstep.  Jason also has a very strong frame throughout, it looks natural and easy to maintain and not contrived at all.  There Quickstep had a great energy to it and maintained a good Quickstep feel although I do think at times that Jason does get a bit carried away and needs a little more refinement & finesse.  It is such a shame he made a mistake in the Promenade run section – I am sure he will be so angry at himself for that but don’t dwell on it Jason.  It was my 2nd favourite Quickstep of the series!

Content:  9     Theme:  9       Overall:  9

As you can see, I’ve decided that the only way to fairly mark this weeks dances is to divide the marks into sections of amount of content (not necessarily how it was executed, the theme of the dance and an overall mark).  This was because so many dances lacked content but had good themes.  Let’s hope this will be the last time I will have to do this until the ‘show dances’ but, perhaps it is time to revise how we look at and mark the dances on Strictly Come Dancing now, especially since it is so far removed from what the programme was originally all about – the dancing. It wasn’t too long ago when the use of props, themes, long intros & effects wasn’t allowed or even considered i.e. When Alesha & Matthew Cutler won with pure dance ability.

Perhaps the marks should now be reflected something like this:  Content, Technical Merit & Overall mark?  Perhaps we may get fairer marks this way as it really is becoming increasingly difficult to mark this competition on dancing alone especially as there is so little of it these days.

Although the addition of all the ‘extras’ makes for entertaining viewing, it does make it more difficult to watch & judge purely as a Ballroom & Latin American dance competition which for me is a shame as I enjoy watching the progress made in the dancing more than watching the spectacle. 

For me, it is always a pleasure watching someone actually learning to dance, mastering the steps & gaining a sense of achievement from learning a very difficult skill and a beautiful art form that is Ballroom & Latin American dancing.
See you all next week. x

Friday, 28 October 2011

Week 4 - Review of couples

Week 4 – Review of couples

It’s been a chaotic week for me as I have been moving house so up until yesterday, I was surrounded by boxes & hopefully I won’t have to see another box for a little while! So, I’m very sorry for the delay in getting my Blog to you but it is finally done and I guess ‘better later than never’ applies.  Hope you enjoy it even though last Saturday seems like an age ago now!

Jason & Kristina – Paso Doble

I love knee walks in Paso Doble, they create so much atmosphere and character to the dance and are also surprisingly difficult to do.  Jason had some lovely shapes in his Twist Turns and I could see that Kristina had worked hard at trying to teach him the correct technique for this step.  Paso is a difficult dance as there is so much going on in the music & feel of the dance BUT it is vital that the Man remain composed and calm in his movements and to not make it look like hard work.  There needs to be an inner calm about the dance and Jason was a little to frantic for me in the Paso.  He has great leg and bodylines in lunge positions- straight line from foot to finger without distorting the hip or chest line. Their side-by-side Bots Foga section was good however, his Lock steps lacked strength and looked a little ‘tip-toey’ & they do very good pivots together which is a huge bonus as you can use pivots in ALL dances.  Overall I thought they portrayed the dance very well and for those who know about dance, it reminded me of a Paul Killick Paso Doble as there were a lot of typical PK steps in the choreography and this is a good thing as Paul was one of the best at Paso Doble.

It wasn’t their best dance but I somehow think that if they had used a traditional Paso Doble song, this would have improved the entire look and feel of the dance as for me, what you see & what you hear should compliment each other & I felt that their song choice didn’t allow for the strength required in a Paso Doble.
I don’t think that this is a step back for Jason though, just a learning curve and do think this is a good thing as I am sure he will come back even stronger from this.

My Score: 7 (continue to work on technique & developing an inner strength & calm to create more control)

Alex & James – Rumba

This is notoriously a very difficult dance for a female celeb to look good doing and I haven’t seen too many do this dance justice over the years – perhaps Cherie Lunghi being one of the very few who bought us a beautiful classic rumba full of dance and class.  Perhaps this expectation on both James and Alex to reproduce the same or similar was too great?  I liked the beginning, which reminded me of Torvil & Dean’s Bolero, but it was too long. Eventually when they did start dancing, I felt that Alex’s hip action was very lacking and this wasn’t help by the lack of movement in her outfit either.  An outfit choice like this is only for the brave and for someone who has tremendous body action, leg action and line as this shows up every flaw and inability…. I think Ola & generally the other female pro’s are the only ones who can get away with this kind of outfit whereas someone of lesser ability should really wear something a little more flowing & revealing in the right places which can actually enhance movement & body action – sadly, I think this was a major flaw in their dance and one I found difficult to look past even though Alex certainly has the body for it! 

Back to the dancing – there were too many tricks and any type of rolling on the floor I am not a fan of either – it is time wasting and really doesn’t represent a Rumba for me.  Rumba’s aren’t necessarily always about being sexy and some of the most beautiful Rumba’s that I have seen haven’t been full of sexy poses, actions or steps.  It is the dance of love and this can be interpreted in so many ways.  So for Alex, I wouldn’t worry too much about all the lack of  ‘sexy’ comments – That is NOT what a typical Rumba is anyway & very few people look good doing ‘sexy’ anyway.  It did however lack Basic Rumba Variations and I don’t think I saw 1 Fan position or even a simple step like Sliding Doors.  For me this was more of a Show Dance than a Rumba and the choreography lacked the content to show us Alex’s ability to show hip action, timing accents, body movement, foot pressure and leg action.  I felt a disappointed as I was sure that Alex was on the path to great improvement but on this occasion it wasn’t to be.

My Score:  5 (Lack of action and content)

It has become increasingly popular to use so much of the Intro and exit in the songs to choreograph very long intro’s & exits and whilst this may be a good idea to introduce a theme to the dance, more often than not, it doesn’t do the dance any justice as it leaves such little time to show actual dance content which is essentially one of the things the judges would like to mark and the audience would like to see  - Ballroom & Latin American dancing. Otherwise, this may as well be So You Think You Can Dance with Celebs – all about other types of dance and not Ballroom & Latin at all.  I do also feel that it IS the responsibility of the Pros to choreograph a dance suitable for the celeb and to enhance their abilities, hide their inabilities and give us a form of recognisable Ballroom or Latin American dances as this is their (the Pro’s) profession.  However, I also feel that if the judges feel that there is not enough dance content this should be bought up privately and the pro in question be given the chance to defend their teaching methods one professional to another.  Who knows, there may be some very good reasons for some choreography choices that aren’t even up to the Pro in the first place. But I do think that bickering about it during the show is detrimental to the show, makes for very awkward viewing & is disrespectful to both Judges & Professionals.  Lets hope this situation can be amicably sorted out, as it would be a shame for the arguments to become the focus of the show instead of the dancing.  Just my opinion.

Rory & Erin – Cha Cha

The start of their dance wasn’t great as straight away Rory made a mistake and then lost his rhythm & timing but he carried on admirably and soon got back into the dance.  He doesn’t have a great hip action and is rather stiff in the hip region & when he did try to show off his hip flexibility is was a little cringe worthy as I felt that he was trying to be sexy and it just didn’t suit hip.  Hip action in Cha Cha is very important as this is the characteristic of the dance however, there are many very good Professional dances who aren’t naturally blessed in this department either & they take on a more masculine, less rhythmic character which could have worked a little better for Rory.  There was good content in their Cha cha even though their New York section (chorus) was repeated but generally his feet were sloppy and his knees were bent which hindered his hip action & leg & foot speed.  As always though Rory looked like he really was enjoying the dance and having fun.

6   (Needs to work on body action and footwork)

Audley & Natalie – Foxtrot

Foxtrot is one of the most difficult dances footwork wise of all the Ballroom dances due to the correct use of heels and toes to create the correct gradual rise & fall over the group of steps. Audley has worked hard at this and generally created a very pleasant rise & fall action.  He has a really good frame and it is consistent and looks very comfortable for him – no bum sticking out or rising shoulders.  There was quite a bit of standing around mid dance which although it didn’t interrupt the flow of the dance because Natalie continued to move and dance around him so well, it just left Audley in some positions that weren’t very dance like positions. They are also very good at pivot spins however his Standing Spin is still flat footed.  I again felt that as a whole, it lacked content from the 2nd half onwards but what they did do in the 1st half was good, recognisable dancing.

My score:  6 (Find better non dance positions & keep working on using feet more)

Nancy & Anton – Paso Doble

This was a great Paso Doble song choice and it automatically enhanced the atmosphere of the dance without them even dancing a step.  Unfortunately the expectation of their interpretation of the song wasn’t to be! It was a better start – Promenade to Counter Promenade movement with a Pivot ending. Their side-by-side Bota Foga section was OK, timing was a bit questionable & Nancy’s spins were very wobbly.  Their content was 100% better & included a Grand Circle and Separation but there were so many lifts that weren’t necessary or even allowed! My general thoughts though were that is was rather stampy, clumpy, off balance, looked like Anton was literally dragging her around from step to step & lacked positive Paso characterisation. However, Nancy learnt the steps & there wasn’t any deliberate comedy.  It was a big improvement!

My score:  5 (keep up with the proper dancing)

Lulu & Brendan – Samba

I remember this song well, it was the song John Barnes & I danced Samba to the week we went out in the dance off against Brendan & Kelly Brooke – I hoped this would be a better dance for them than it was for us.

I watched a documentary during the week on BBC about Lulu life, it was fascinating and I was surprised to learn & see that Lulu can actually dance & has danced with many dancers over the years and has learnt many styles of dancing so I hope she can tap into these memories & experiences and bring them to the show as, she is such a natural performer.

The content of their Samba was good & contained Rolling off the Arm, Whisks. Samba Walks & Locks, Promenade runs & a very nice side by side solo section.  There could have been more & without the repetition or the break in dance half way through but it kept the party feeling of the Samba going so wasn’t completely out of character although I do think Lulu is capable of more.  It lacked a definite Samba bounce action and there were some mistakes but it was fun filled & had great characterisation and atmosphere – I liked it even if it wasn’t a traditional Samba.

My score: 7 (neater footwork & technique)

Holly & Artem – Vienesse Waltz

What a long intro again before they actually started to dance a proper V. Waltz – a shame really as this was a good dance for Holly as she looked very elegant and in character.  I still feel that she is somehow very shy on the dance floor and I am not really seeing her character shine through yet which is a bit frustrating as, I feel that with the right encouragement and finding which buttons to push, she could be very good! Her posture and head position was very good and she looks more comfortable in Ballroom hold.  It was a little skippy for a V.Waltz and lacked sway & upper body extension & Holly needs to work more on using her feet and ankles to control her movements – her feet and legs need more strength & tone to be able to control what the rest of her body is doing.  For me, it was their best dance so far! Well done.

My score:  8 (more personality and strength & tone in feet & legs needed)

Chelsee & Pasha – Quickstep

WOW! I was completely blown away but this week’s transformation in chelsee’s look and dancing! She looked so much better & loved her ‘uncluttered’ look that made it possible to see her dancing rather than have to look for it.  Their interpretation of this dance was wonderful – so quick, full of content & lots of fun.  Chelsee created great bodylines, kept up with Pasha in movement and their body contact was remarkable considering the speed of the dance.  Chelsee’s posture is much improved and she looks very natural in hold now.  I found their dance mesmerizing and was very excited to see this level of Quickstep so early on! For me it was ALMOST ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ perfection!

My score:  9 (keep working like this & loved the toned down look!)

Harry & Aliona - Waltz
I have to say that even before they danced, I was so impressed with their VT, which I felt was so much better than everyone else’s.  It was a great and very clever story line that led beautifully into their dance – I wondered why everyone else’s couldn’t be like that as it was really lovely.

They started off with a very difficult slow Contra Check and then into some great Waltz content – great standing spin up on toes, & readable and recognisable Waltz variations with very good rise, fall & sway from Harry.  His posture still needs a lot of work as I found him to be sticking out his bum quite a bit especially on forward steps – perhaps due to the slight over exaggeration of his heel lead and lowering action which can cause a distortion in the upper body.  But this is very, very good and then, the unthinkable…. Faffing where it was absolutely not needed especially when the dance was flowing so beautifully! The 1st half was wonderful and the 2nd half was just ruined for me as it lacked comparable content to the 1st half and the whole dance became disjointed. What a shame as this was Harry’s best dance by far in terms of technique, characterisation & style although I still find Harry not quite at the top of his ability in a performance sense however it was very, very good!

My score:  8 (work on posture & performance)

Anita & Robin – American Smooth

Anita brings a lovely ‘Old Style’ glamour to her dancing especially in the Ballroom dances and this was no exception.  This dance really suited her and she really took on the character of the American Smooth.  The lifts were great and elegant although the ‘Horse & cart’ step lacked extension and wasn’t an elegant as it could have been.  Unfortunately Anita did make a few mistakes but she managed to cover them up rather well and didn’t let it affect the rest of the dance.   It was a pleasure to see some Heel Turns as, they are very difficult to master and do properly and I thought she did a great job with them.  Their side by side solo section was well synchronised and overall the characterisation of the dance was very good however, I would have liked it to have been a little smoother in transitions from one group to another.

My score:  7  (try not to make mistakes and work on the flow of movement)

Robbie & Ola – Jive

I love how Robbie absolutely embraces everything Ola asks of him and also how Ola choreographs a look & dance around what Robbie is good at – it works very harmoniously and they come across as a real team on the dance floor.  This was a very good Jive in my opinion as it contained a lot of basic content – great flicks & kicks (which could have been sharper and faster, but at least he dance them), some Drunken sailor steps with good sway, Pivot chasses, American Spin, Stop & Go & basic Jive with Jive chasses – good enough content for me.  Robbie really captured the character of the dance and stayed in character all the way through, he looked like he was really living the dance and this is what Jive is about – fun, energy & entertainment!

My Score:  8 (work on straightening the knees faster in Flicks & kicks & getting weight over the balls of feet more to create better Jive bounce action)

Russell & Flavia – Tango

Russell never fails in the entertainment department and this dance was no exception! Great story telling in the intro and there was a good flow of choreography throughout the dance.  There was good basic content in the form of a Rock Turn step, Chasses, Open Reverse Turn & 5 step. It wasn’t staccato enough and lacked a certain aggression that the tango needs but, I would have been very surprised if Russell had been able to incorporate this in their dance as I really don’t think this is in Russell’s personality…to see it just a little would have been a nice surprise though. As always though, this was very entertaining and kept me watching to the very last beat & I love Russell & Flavia for the spirit they bring to the competition!

My score: 6 (not your best character dance but think the ‘fun’ dances are more for you)

Whew, I finally have made it to the end and can now finally post this after a very long week of moving, being without Internet and loosing my laptop charger along the way! I can’t believe it’s already a week and I will be doing this weeks write up in 2 days – Halloween week! Will it be just a scary version of Broadway week or will we see innovative choreography and themes based on Ballroom & Latin dances with a Halloween twist? Can’t wait! X

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Broadway Week Review

Broadway week:

I felt that this week was a bittersweet week for me. I found ‘Broadway week’ to be confusing on a judging level as I couldn’t quiet figure out what the criteria for judging should be – there seemed to be one set of rules of some and a completely different set of rules for others. It must have also been confusing for the Pros as to what to choreograph & what the criteria was.

Does dancing Broadway mean – dance a Ballroom or Latin dance to a Broadway song; create a Broadway theme dance loosely based on a Ballroom or Latin dance or create a Broadway dance?

Which one shall it be as all 3 have endless possibilities and rules & regulations to go with each option?  None of the options were entirely clear to me as a judge, dancer or viewer which made this weeks dances very difficult to comment on.  Therefore, my comments this week will be a lot shorter as I felt that there was a general lack of Ballroom or Latin content – although most of the dances were very entertaining to watch from a theatrical point of view and if that was the purpose this week, it was a success.

Holly & Artem – Tango

Holly certainly looked the part and in her intro was very convincing & captivating in her character.  Holly does have a very natural way of moving which I like to watch as it all looks easy but this is also a draw back as it can look like she hasn’t put enough effort into what she is doing. I was left wondering if their dance was supposed to be Tango or Argentine Tango as there was insufficient content or technique to convince me it was meant to be either one.  I do think that Holly looked very good ‘in hold’ and I look forward to seeing a proper Ballroom dance from her as I think she may feel more comfortable in the Ballroom dances.
Content = 50%
My Score:  7 (Attack the dance with more energy)

Dan & Katya – Viennese Waltz

Unfortunately for Dan, he just isn’t a natural dancer no matter what style he dances & will have to work very hard to convince me otherwise regardless of the amount of acting he can do.  His movements look messy & uncoordinated and his V. Waltz was a little on the skippy side without enough sway.  He needs to use his heels & toes more as he looks a little flat footed & his frame tends to drop towards the end of the dance but in the beginning, it does look good so it’s just a matter of concentration & stamina. It just lacked a bit of Broadway theme & characterisation for me.
Content = 40%
My Score: 5 (work on more fluid movements)

Anita & Robin – Jive

Fabulous characterisation & interpretation especially in the chorus of the song and Anita kept the theme going all the way through the dance.  I do feel that technically there were some issues.  Anita needs to point her feet in all kick & flick steps & not only in Jive.  Her body weight could have been a little more over the balls of her feet which in turn would have given her a better Jive bounce action.  She needs to also be aware of dancing mostly with bent knees – even in Jive our knees need to bend and straighten.  They had a good amount of Jive content – Change of places, Chasses, Lindy hop kicks, Drunken Sailor & basic jive steps that I was very happy to see.
Content =70%
My score: 6 (Leg action needs a little more work)

Alex & James – Viennese Waltz

What a beautiful intro – Alex’s arm movements & acting were mesmerising. Their underarm spin sequence was lovely and Alex’s spins have improved greatly. Their V. Waltz had a lovely lilting quality & Alex’s head position has really improved.  There was beautiful, simple, elegant, effective & classy content & the characterisation was spot on!
Content = 95%
My score: 8 (Just keep working hard)

Nancy & Anton – Tango

Nancy certainly looked the part & her interpretation of the song was very good in the intro.  Unfortunately, I felt that the song was rather slow which in turn made it difficult to show impact & enough content in their dance. She also lacks upper body strength and needs to be able to control her leg action more.  At least this looked like a more serious attempt at a proper dance though instead of relying on their version of comedy.
Content = 30%
My score: 4 (Core strength & content)

Audley & Natalie – Quickstep

Audley has a lovely personality on the dance floor & looks like he enjoys every moment.  His characterisation was good & he has a great frame, although his arm movements when he is out of hold can look a little casual at times.  He has a good natural rhythm but he needs to put a little more energy into his movements as for a tall guy, I really feel that he lacks movement around the floor & he could also be a little lighter on his feet, especially in the Quickstep.
Content = 50%
My score: 6 (lack of stamina & energy in movements)

Robbie & Ola – Tango

I was a little confused if they were doing a Paso or Tango in their Intro but as soon as they got into their dance, all became clear – a Tango!  Robbie’s characterisation was very good & very serious.  He must be careful however not to drop his chin when he feels the dance so much. This is a common problem though and can be fixed easily just with a little reminding not to feel the dance too much in the head and shoulder region. His walks when not in hold with Ola were a little too ‘stompy’ for me but there was good content & characterisation.  It was an entertaining & watchable dance again!
Content =85%
My score: 8 (work on how you look when dancing solo)

Rory & Erin – Quickstep

Fred Astaire eat your heart out – Rory certainly got this impersonation right!  Their dance contained a good amount of content and had some lovely scatter chasses, skips and hops that were very light.  Rory has worked hard on his heels and toes and that is what creates the lightness in the quickstep.  His posture does need work & looks a little hunched over but I feel that it is because he lifts his chin up instead of keeping his head up and dropping his shoulders. 
They had a great theme and portrayal of the dance and Rory looked like he really enjoyed it.
Content = 70%
My score: 7 (posture)

Lulu & Brendan – Rumba

There was a great amount of feeling and character in their dance and Lulu kept in character all the way through.  There wasn’t much content to go on – swivels, fan position & sliding doors and in these movements, Lulu needs to work on straightening her knees more & keep working her feet into the floor to create hip action.  Her movements were very lyrical though and I thought their lift although illegal was beautiful.
Content = 30%
My score: 5 (bent knees & working feet into the floor)

Side Note:  I did agree with Brendan about the timing & musicality of the lift in their dance & if it is 'Broadway week', doesn't broadway also incorporate lift work to enhance the theme of the musical? If lifts can be used in Salsa which is NOT a traditional lift dance, I don't see why it is not included in Broadway.  The 'Rules' of Ballroom & Latin require that there be Ballroom & Latin content so as to be able to mark it as a Ballroom or Latin dance. In Broadway however, there doesn't seem to be a requirement regarding the minimum amount of Ballroom or Latin content therefore in my opinion, lifts should be allowed.

Russell & Flavia – Foxtrot

Russell always makes me smile and makes me want to get up and dance when I watch him – that is a very rare quality!  He has such a natural ease of movement that even when there is so much wrong, he manages to get away with it because there is nothing awkward and uneasy about how he moves. His interpretation of the dance was good and as always, very well rehearsed – he never seems to look nervous on the floor.  Although his posture is good, his actual frame with Flavia needs work as it moves around a lot.  Russell is however sheer entertainment.
Content = 60%
My score: 7

Jason & Kristina – Tango

Jason’s interpretation of this song was unsurprisingly brilliant! His hold & posture is very strong and he is very consistent with it.  The characterisation, content & choreography was superb and I have never seen anyone give so much to a dance – Jason’s commitment to each dance is very, very good.  Their dance incorporated entertainment, comedy, dance & theatre all in one & is one of the best  ‘show dances’ I have seen on Strictly!
Content = 85%
My score: 9

Chelsee & Pasha – Cha Cha Cha

There is absolutely no doubt that Chelsee can dance and has amazing rhythm & ability and that is why I think I expect so much more technically from her.  I thought she had a cleaner, less fussy look, which really enhanced her dancing & made her look more confident.  If Chelsee can concentrate a little more on technique, the improvement will be huge.  She is a very exuberant dancer & this is a very infectious quality however, she needs to calm down a little to be able to control her body.  It was a great attempt at the Cha Cha though, just a little inconsistent BUT it is all there!
Content = 85%
My score: 8

Harry & Aliona – Jive

Such a great Jive song but where was the Jive & Rock n Roll that is so characteristic of that era?  There were a few recognisable steps like the ‘Sugar Push’ (swing step), Chasse – Pivots & 1 small section of flicks & kicks, not one basic group & a lift from Aliona. But the rest was just hand gestures & choreography, floor work & general wasting of music.  This all seems really harsh but it is frustrating to watch talent being wasted.  The character of the dance or theme was a little lost on me as I didn’t feel it contained enough ‘Grease’ moves & this is a dance movie that the general public would know a lot about & lacked the together dancing of that era.  Harry can dance so I was just disappointed to not see it.  This was a dance based totally on a theme & little content for me.
Content= 30%
My score: 6 (only because his portrayal & that he can dance)

Nicole’s Pet Peeves:

No clear rules or regulations regarding content or interpretation of what a ‘Themed’ week should involve.

This is a Ballroom & Latin American dance based dance/entertainment competition therefore there should be a certain % of Ballroom & Latin American dance based steps & content to keep it within it’s own description other wise it could just be another dance/entertainment programme. Content, content, content!

Well, that’s my Blog for another week, as mentioned at the beginning, it was a difficult week to comment on but I look forward to returning to the unthemed & hopefully proper dances next week even though it was an entertaining week. Xx

Strictly Come Dancing - A Professional's Opinion!

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