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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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Monday, 3 October 2011

WEEK 1 Saturday night review of couples

Harry & Aliona - Cha cha

Harry is the youngest male celeb this year and comes from a performance & musical background so I had high hopes for their first dance.  It wasn't bad but, I expected more.  He looked very self concious and nervous & I hope that it was just first night nerves.

I would like to see much more hip action & hip rotation to stop him from looking linear and 2 dimensional & for him to 'throw it about' a bit as it all looked a little subtle.  He has nice, neat arm movements but a little too subtle for me too.  Harry needs to learn to be less self conscious and to perform more.  For me it lacked a genuine chemistry & excitement between Harry & Aliona but I look forward to seeing how their partnership develops from here onwards.  Aliona's choreography had a good amount of basic content e.g. the Natural Top, Fan Position, some Ronde chasses but, I did notice a lack of any turns or spins from Harry in comparison to some of the other celebs dances. His footwork was good, all toe leads...thank you! I felt that on the whole their Cha cha seemed a little slow & lacked impact.  Again, I blame 'Pop timing' and not enough Cha cha timing or syncopation in the dance.  It was a very good attempt at his first dance however did he have the 'Moves like Jagger'? Not on this occasion & I think he will have to work really hard on his performance skills to overcome his shyness on the floor.

My score: 6 (more hip action & performance needed)

Rory & Erin - Waltz

A very good job from Erin & Rory is obviously a good student. It was elegant & sophisticated & it looks like Erin & Rory have a great chemistry together. They had good movement across the dance floor & a good connection most of the time.  Rory's heel leads were very obvious indeed - perhaps Erin drummed this into him & it could have been more subtle but at least he was doing heel leads where required.  Rory's standing spin was  very 'steppy' like Audley's but, in Rory's case, at least he did it on his toes.  I was very impressed with their hesitation in Whisk Position right in the beginning of their routine, it is a difficult position to hold as you are up on your toes and requires a lot of balance so well done for that! Rory has a good posture and frame however, his head did move into some strange positions at times and he has to learn to keep it more still.  I feel that his left arm was a little to far forward and this made his back appear a little rounded or hunched.  Take the elbows back slightly and this will fix the problem.  Rory looked like he enjoyed the dance and so did I.

My score: 6 (posture & more subtle footwork)

Alex & James - Cha cha

I feel that this perhaps wasn't the best song choice for a Cha Cha.  The intro was far to long and left me wondering what dance they were supposed to be doing.  Even after the actual proper rhythm kicked in I still thought it was a dull & sluggish song to dance to, especially for a beginner.  Once James & Alex did start dancing though, I found Alex's steps to be too 'walkey' and lacked a Cha cha feel or rhythm about it.    For me there wasn't any hip rotation and not enough hip action or isolation. I felt her leg & foot action could have been sharper and stronger & for a female dancer, I found her to be standing in a 'legs apart' & flat footed position too often. This is a position that even experienced dancers can look terrible doing. Perhaps a more feminine position would have looked better for her as I think Alex has it all look wise.  She has a great body, is gorgeous to look at and is actually quiet sexy when she is posing but, she needs to put these assets to good use when she dances by using angles, rotation & hip action and awareness of her leg & foot positions.  On the whole, there is room for improvement & I would like to see Alex be a little more aggressive in her approach to her dancing which may help her movement have a little more 'bite' & attack. I hope she finds her confidence this week and I think if they are doing a Ballroom dance, this will help a lot.

My score: 4 (more hip action & more dance)

Chelsee & Pasha - Waltz

I have to start my review of Chelsee & Pasha with Chelsee's look.  I usually wouldn't comment on this but I can't let it go on this occasion.  I felt that her whole look was very distracting from her good lines and good dancing.  I feel that with Chelsee & her look, 'less is more' may be a good way forward as her personality and her excitement on the dance floor is enough without adding big hair, hair accessories and floats (sleeves) on a dress too.  For me, it was all just a little too much and I found it difficult to see the real dancer underneath all of that.  I hope someone advises her on this but then again, if this is how Chelsee wants to look, it's her choice but she will just have to work a lot harder to get everyone to see past the excess. OK, now onto the dancing.

Their Waltz was a little 'lumpy' in movement & this was mainly due to Chelsee dancing predominantly on her toes.  There was a distinct lack of heel leads from her in their waltz & you need to do heel leads to create rise & fall.  By using her ankles to control her rise & fall, this will improve her movement and also give her more control over steps. I feel that although Chelsee is very flexible in her spine, I would like her to concentrate on strengthening her core muscles so that she can hold her upper body in a more stable position - sometimes, it seems that she collapsed her frame.  I felt  that her head was a little too far left and over exaggerated & she must watch out that her left hand on Pasha's shoulder doesn't look like she is hanging on but rather placed elegantly. Chelsee does have a very good ability for spins and line & arm extension though and I hope that Pasha with take advantage of these very good qualities.  I seem to have made a lot of criticism of Chelsee however, it is only because I can see a whole lot of talent and potential in her & can see a dancer slowly emerging over the coming weeks, if she is given the chance to shine.

My score:  7 (technique & 'less is more')

Edwina & Vincent - Cha cha

I've never heard this song as a Cha cha before but, then I've not heard a lot of the songs used on Strictly as the dance they were dancing to.  I was also disappointed to see that their routine was repeated twice with a bit of 'fluffing' in between as I think Edwina isn't a bad dancer at all and is more than capable of learning, remembering and dancing a more complex routine.  There was a good mixture of basic steps but there could have and should have been more.  I also felt that Vincent shouldn't have left her on her own to literally do her own thing. Very dangerous & I do think that some of the celebs feel very vulnerable when this happens, especially in the beginning when you literally need to hold their hand all the time unless they are very good and confident. Edwina did look a little flat footed though and I wonder if it was mainly because I noticed she had a very low heeled shoe, unlike most of the other ladies.  This can make your feet look flat and she will have to work a lot harder than the others to make her feet look beautiful & make it look like she is using her feet & ankles.  I think that Edwina does however have a very natural rhythm when she moves and she obviously enjoys dancing very much, she isn't shy and retiring on the dance floor either and I feel that she embraced the whole experience.

My score:  3 (more content & footwork)

Nancy & Anton - Waltz

Well, I'm really sad to say that I can't really comment on their dance - there really wasn't enough of it for me to even form any sort of dance opinion.  All I am left with is this:  Why the epic intro and props when it was clear from their training footage and a few very fleeting moments during the dance that Nancy can actually dance?  I was expecting a 'Karen & Ramps' moment & almost wished they had just started again but, we will never know now what Nancy may have been capable of on the night - a shame really!

My score: 1 (just not enough to score)

Jason & Kristina - Cha cha

Is Jason a favourite to win this years Strictly yet? Well on that performance, he should be! His continuous Cha cha walks and locks were very rhythmical & natural, they could have had more rotation as that is what Cha cha is all about - hip rotation but they were very good.  He looks like he is already leading Kristina or at least understands the concept & technique of it.  Their New york section was a little skippy but I found that generally their Cha cha had very good content - a lot of readable basic steps and some very exciting, more complicated trick steps.  Jason's timing was crisp and clear and their song choice was very good as it had a good Cha cha tempo and feel about it.  Jason looks strong, confident & 100% committed to whatever he has been given to dance and whatever he is doing.  There were a few standing still moments but not too many and he still seemed to dance them even if his feet weren't moving. His arms movements are strong, masculine & sharp.  It is still a little rough around the edges but I would rather watch that than someone who is too perfect & I have to say that I almost did expect Jason to be too much of a perfectionist to allow himself to enjoy his dancing - I am glad I was wrong.  I look forward to seeing his Ballroom now & hope he will have a refined & elegant look to compliment his rhythmic and exciting Latin.  Hard work pays off - 100% correct!

My score:  8 (just keep working hard)

Wow, that was a lot of couples to review!  I'm looking forward to this weekend already and hope that some of the couples that disappointed will have stepped up their game and that everyone has now got over their first show nerves and are eager to give their best performance again at the weekend as this time, it counts & someone will be going home.  Good luck & happy training to all! And thanks for reading my blog. X

Strictly Come Dancing - A Professional's Opinion!

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