Sunday, 24 November 2013

No More Diggity Dancing for Ben

Gutted tonight as I write this, as Bentina was my journey couple, I really wanted to see Ben get through and carry on improving. I personally loved their Charleston, it had everything it was supposed to have and an extra point on the leader board may well have seen them safe. It was light, animated, there was plenty of movement and for me, possibly his best.

Marketa also had his best dance so far, with improvement in the dance off. He put some swing and sway into it and I didn't notice his mistake so I can't argue with the judges decision. It was very sweet and joyful.

The judges have been given a reality check, so plenty of constructive criticism and more realistic scores. Other than Bentina, it was Kevanna and Asha who again got my votes. Susanna is just so brilliant, if not technically on it in the cha cha, she gave it plenty of sassiness. Ashley is staking a claim for the final - another beautifully executed dance, he's very natural - I'm not even thinking about his head!

Artalie's tango was very well danced, as always, though I didn't find myself excited by it; Brenphie's rumba too, nice lines, warm, but a bit safe. The Abjaz Paso Doble had great movement in delivery of the content and she wins Dress of the Night again. And Patya - perhaps one week they'll get through it without any drama! Beautiful choreography, particularly the balletic arms at the beginning (and I should know, cos I did a ballet workshop today ;) It was for a charity called Trust Sulha and you can read all about it here. A blog will hopefully appear soon.) However, it did get a bit clumsy towards the end - Patya's Viennese Waltz, not the workshop.

Onto the results show, in which the Beeb confused Sunday night viewers by a Great British Bake Off inspired routine, complete with Mary Berry; Il Divo provided the music for Kristina and Aljaz to bewitch us, and in Len's Lens, Bruno failed to set off a confetti gun and Craig confirmed that there will be no tens from him unless it's perfect!

So all that was left after that was to bawl our eyes out with Kristina. *sob* Till next time - it's Musicals Night! *cheers up*

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Dazzling dancing and silly scoring

I say dazzling dancing, mainly because all the couples had a really good week. No-one put in a bad performance and it highlighted how tough this is going to be, even with eight couples still left.

But the multitude of tens, many undeserved, is going to do my head in if it carries on! You cannot give a ten if it wasn't perfect! Really, the scoring was super-crazy inconsistent last week. I expect normal service resumed tonight, please.

I loved Abjaz, it put us all in a happy place (on a beach, with ice cream and candy) the energy and fun in their quickstep was terrific, although I found it a little frantic in places and had to agree with Craig, although the 7 was harsh - nines across would've been a fairer reflection - how can you have a 7 and three 10s? Dress of the Night though.

Likewise, much as I love Kevanna, Susanna didn't have half as much content as Ashley to deliver in her Paso Doble - it was the music that set the atmosphere and got everyone wound up. Her attitude again though, was spot on, along with strong lines and expressive Flamenco hands. Nines again for me.The Charleston from Artalie was more like a pro production and Artem was incredible, I could watch him over and over. BUT, after a bright start I felt Natalie's energy faded and she looked very heavy legged and slightly ragged. The trouble when someone is that good though, is that the judges (except Craig) tend to score based on what they're expecting, hence three more tens. CUT IT OUT! 8s and 9s at best.

Anyhoo, based on those scores, then Asha ought to have had four tens, because Ashley was blooming immense! It's like they took a point off because of the wild west look - but it's just a tiny step from the bullring to the rodeo ring. There was the swagger, mighty fine cape work, superb attitude, attack and intent, great shapes, he properly danced the Paso and was soooooooo dominant I may have a new pin up. (Sorry, England Cricket, Alistair, James and Kevin really need to take note and apply the same purpose. Ok, I know they'll bounce back.) The only tiny thing I would've liked, was a leap instead of a kneeslide.

Brenphie saved their best for Blackpool, a terrific crisp and clean quickstep, and she let herself go in a spirited routine, the ending of which I adored - had it been on last it would've got the tens. Likewise Patya's samba was wonderful, so groovy and how well they coped with the wardrobe malfunction. A proper carnival samba and overall, the right score.

Another gorgeous routine from Kristina, making the most of everything she can lay her hands on, preferably Ben's arms, with some amazing lifts, showing off again how attentive he is, great partnering. A very smooth American Smooth all the way from Smoothsville for Bentina, with kudos for using a VW base.

The bottom of the board was occupied jointly last week by Antiona and Marketa, but with completely different dances. A very nice American Smooth , if a little pedestrian from Antiona, but a lovely feel and a nice soft shoe shuffle break. Marketa's jive was fun all the way, with him perfectly at home with the Hairspray track, and his timing and musicality almost making up for the lack of bounce.

Unsurprising then, that it was the bottom two again in the dance off, with all things equal with the judges and a split fully expected. But I wasn't expecting Craig to save Antiona! Fiona's nerves did get to her, whereas Mark embraced the chance to do it again and was rewarded for the life and expression he put into it, safe for a second time.

Elsewhere in the results show, Len's Lens picked up Darcey's disco dancing; the ballroom babies from the big opener Saturday night; Kevanna's human cape; Bentina's pressage lift; Natalie's footwork - but in showing it off you saw she was out of time with Artem! And Abbey's fabulous whoop of joy in the jete.

Till later then! TTFN x

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Greenwich Dance - The Ball

Dress up and join Greenwich Dance for a decadent evening of dance.

Blend a bit of ballroom, a splash of swing, sprinkle with festive magic and throw in some unexpected performances, and you’ve got the recipe for a show-stopping party!
Live big band music and workshops will get the dance floor started, followed by a DJ into the night.
So dust off your diamonds, grab a cocktail and celebrate with them as they round off their 20th birthday year in spectacular style.
20th anniversary special offer: 20% off bookings of 10 or more - perfect for Christmas parties.

Date:   14 December 2013
Time:   8pm-Late
Cost:    £18 / £15 concessions
Venue: The Borough Hall, Greenwich, London

To book tickets call 020 8293 9741 or visit the website for information on other events.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Latin Dance Fusion - on line!

Latin Dance Fusion is a newly launched social media site aimed at connecting people who love Latin dance in all its forms.

If you'd love the chance to attend live shows, blog about Latin dance or simply connect up with like minded others via forums, this is the place for you.

It's free to join and you can share your favourite Latin music, videos and upload pictures. You can also share your own events, classes and parties, and even recommend your top-rated restaurants, clubs and dance venues.

For any and everything about Latin Dance, check out the community here.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dragonflies in a dance of courtship

Oh god, it's the week before Blackpool. Did you know we're off to Blackpool next week? Trust me, if you didn't, you will ...

No Artalie tonight, due to illness, and no Bruce either, taking another break. I've said it before, please can we keep Tess and Clauds together once he retires? Please? If I keep asking? Nicely?

A very definite tale of two halves tonight, with the top half of the table on fire, and the bottom two on possibly Mogadon or steroids or something.

Abjaz did a lovely job with their Charleston, Abbey's long swingy arms and legs just made for the Fosse inspired routine. Stylish and detailed and really enjoyable. A beautiful traditional waltz from Kevanna, gorgeous storytelling and those stunning pivots in a warm and engaging routine, with the sublime touch of their arm wafting in sync at the end. And, to top it all - dress of the night. Not just for how it looked, but how it moved, too.

Battle of the ballroom hit new heights with Patya and Asha both excelling. Firstly, Asha's fabulous, pulsating quickstep, with flair and expression and brilliant choreography. Packed full of content and nifty footwork, it inspired Bruno's title quote. Patya have finally got that chin up and what a huge difference it made. "Wow" was the first thing I said. Stunning routine, his timing and musicality and the sheer joy of it - now that's what I call an American Smooth. I can see these two in a  private battle each week now because they're equally at home in Latin too!

My middle ground was held by Brenphie. Excellent technique but I totally agreed with the judges. Sometimes a little fragile, and still that aloofness, which you do need for an AT but it also needs fire and passion. I have a soft spot for Bentina - oi, don't make up your own jokes - I love that he's so tactile and keeps hugging everyone. I thought: Is he mad? when they said about the back flip but there was my soft spot, a crash mat, just in case. A fine effort I thought, he got down into it and his legs were neat and tidy, mostly. Nice vibe with the song and character. Loved seeing the other judges all ticking off Craig!  But there will be complaints about someone grabbing Pasha's ... erm, packet. Paso Doble for Antiona but no Bond theme. No Bond theme?! Well, they really missed a trick there, didn't they? Good attitude, nice arm shaping, footwork a little ploddy but a proper Paso to enjoy.

Alas, Marketa. Fancy getting a rumba this week. With hindsight of course, they'd have gone traditional and tried for warmth and romance, but ah, Bond theme, I've been expecting you. Although I, like Bruno, couldn't get Dr.Evil out of my head. At least there was characterization, if not much movement. Sorry Foxy, not Mark's fault - fingers crossed. 

And so, to Kave. A tango, which I have to say kind of had the right idea, and he certainly did enough walking to have covered the 500 miles on that dance floor but just waaaaaaaaaaay too stompy for me. I found Len's comments the most entertaining thing about it, but we love a trier, don't we? And Dave, like most of the celebs every series, is putting in the hours to try and improve and clearly loving being involved, which is all you can ask. Maybe the Scottish vote will come through for him.

The leader board:

Two worrying score draws there tonight, so best prepare for another shock.

A super swingy jive opener with the Peppini Sisters (check out their version of Crazy in Love) to mark Remembrance weekend.

And out with the shocks tonight, as the bottom two face each other in the dance off. Marketa versus Kave and is it a forgone conclusion that Kave will go? If Mark has a nightmare and Dave is able to improve, it could be closer than we think.

An emotional time at Covent Garden and then it's Len's Lens: Claudia's glittery shoes; Susanna's pivots; Brenphie's lift into-spin-onto-floor; Patya's close call; Abjaz's acting skills; Bentina causing an argument; Mark's faces (again!).

There's no argument in the dance off: Marketa through to Blackpool, and Kave out - although, Len pointed out that Mark had made a lot of mistakes, and, had he had a deciding vote, would've kept Dave! But Craig, Darcey and Bruno saved Mark for being a better mover overall.

Best wishes to Natalie for a speedy recovery then, before we board the Blackpool Bus. Showtime is 6.30pm; don't be late.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival 2014

YDance is looking for 20 youth dance groups from counties in the UK to take part in a 3-day festival of workshops and performances at the first ever Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow.

The festival will celebrate the best of youth dance from across the Commonwealth, and be part of an exciting cultural programme surrounding the sporting events at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The Festival will take place over three days and nights from 10–12 July 2014, and involve around 30 groups from across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and other Commonwealth countries at Glasgow’s Tramway.

As well as performances by up to 400 young people from across the Commonwealth, the festival will feature choreographic workshops and classes led by internationally-renowned dance artists and companies.

Groups can enter a maximum of 15 dancers aged 12 to 21 years (or up to 24 years old for companies with disabled dancers). To enter, send a DVD or YouTube link of a recent performance.  Pieces should be no more than 7 minutes in length.

If you have a youth dance group and would like to apply visit their website for more details, send them an email or call the CYD office on 0141 552 7712.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Torvill and Dean swap the ice for the ballroom

In a stunning move, guaranteed to send dance audiences into a frenzy of excitement (or is it just me?) the Children in Need Strictly Come Dancing special will feature Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.

Competing against a host of other stars as well as each other, Jayne will partner James Jordan while Chris will be guided by Aliona Vilani on the show when it airs on Friday, November 15th.

With the creative flair T&D have for interpreting music on the ice, I cannot wait to see what they can do in stilettos and Cuban heels!

And what a great excuse to share my favourite routine ...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Gothic theatricality

Everyone on the floor for the Time Warp, including the Judges, before Dress of the Night makes an entrance - Tess! Don't often get the chance to bestow that honour upon her, do we? And so begins our Halloween special ...

The Gothic splendour of the opener is carried on by Patya, whose quickstep I absolutely loved. A stuttery start became a fabulous romp of theatricality with energy, personality and terrific timing. A great comeback after last week. Having to follow was Antiona with their Charleston, more "Halloween at Doris Day's house" according to Bruno, but a delightful effort - Fiona's got the swivel and Anton was enjoying himself immensely.

My first vote of the series - since I've not seen it live till this week (I refused to go out this time) - and it went to Bentina for a totally owned Paso Doble (and not because he was topless, really, I'm not that shallow *ahem* But nice to see the Powers That Be decided that a couple of complaints weren't worth the fuss) Loved the strong, aggressive nature, and his partnering with regard to the arm work was fantastic, so fluid and didn't miss a beat.

Sadly, Brenphie's jive didn't work for me at all. Great characterisation but lacking bounce, flicks and kicks. Artalie's Viennese Waltz was a gorgeous concoction of lyrical wafting arms and floating whirliness - but there simply wasn't enough in hold to actually be a VW, so scoring tens seems a little naughty - especially considering later remarks, which I'll come to shortly.

When I say shortly, I mean now, and Marketa's Paso Doble. Personally, I loved it, there was fun and a good stab at the attitude and I felt there was plenty of Paso content to allow for the super disco break near the end. So Bruno's comment about not enough Paso to be a Paso, after a 10 for Artalie's VW that actually wasn't, hacked me off a bit, and resulted in a vote for Marketa from me. So there.

Pashel's American Smooth I thought was a little bit limp? No? I didn't really get into at all, although a second watch convinced me it was Ok to do a Viennese Waltz Smooth, which is why, presumably, on the SCD website, they called it an American Waltz.

And then to a bloody fantastic interpretation of an awesome song choice, with Asha's tango. Taut, electric, menacing. Beautiful, monster! My third vote. Another unusual but effective performance in the rumba for Abjaz, she really seems to get it and I'm beginning to like them a lot. Kave had more hand jive than leg work but it did actually resemble a routine, in that he seemed to know where he had to be at any given moment. Scariest thing about it was his panda eyes.

Kevanna ended the show with their charleston, letting us have the full benefit of SmileySusanna again, tons of proper charleston content, really well done and "freedom on expression" according to Craig, I just think it deserved a more traditional song to really capture the feel. Still got my fourth vote though - it's too close to call not to.

The leaderboard:

Those draws are not doing the mid table peeps any favours - best prepare ourselves for another shock tonight. See you later x

And so we return with another inventive and pulsating performance, with Claudia and Tess dropping in, literally. And then for the shock - Abjaz into the dance off! I was praying it wouldn't be versus one of my other favourites, but still a bit peeved when it turned out to be Pashel.

Elsewhere, before the Big Decision, Madness showcased their new single - I've always wanted to see Suggs on Strictly, but next time please let it be in tails. In Len's Lens, Dress of Sunday Night is Darcey's, and loving Craig's glittery crutch; Len enjoys the Time Warp but warns about the plethora of illegal lifts; Darcey's scared face at Brendan, and Sophie's knees; high fives between Bruno and Darcey for the 10s; Claudia's descent into hell, you'd have thought, with the air lift in!

I thought the Dance Off might come down to nerves; on balance, with both at their best, it would always be Abjaz, but she's a wreck - her and Rachel are best friends on the show and she's setting me right off with her sobbing. As it happens, she focused the emotion into the performance and it was even better than last night. Rachel also much better but it was a unanimous judging decision. But so, so sad for Pashel :(

How can a show that brings so much joy cause so much pain? I'll leave you with a little Frankie Beverley and Maze to think about it. Well, why not, you dig? Go ahead, get down y'all, till next week anyhow.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Always sunny in Susanna-Land

So says Bruno, and who are we to disagree?

Once again, Kevanna topped the lot for me, with another animated performance. It's not just about putting your feet in the right place, it's about the emotion a dancer elicits from its audience: Kevanna make me happy.

Natalie is a fantastic rhythmic dancer and I should've been into Artalie's samba a lot more than I was. Likewise, I thought Brenphie's cha cha could've been more cheeky, and Antiona's quickstep I didn't find that interesting, it didn't pick out any highlights in the music. Anton, you're supposed to be King of this stuff!

A good effort but more still to do from Pashel, Rachel needed more attack, while Kave are beginning to bore me a little now. In the 'lovely' camp were Abjaz, with an unusual but flowing foxtrot, and Marketa, a rather delightful waltz. Another great effort by Bentina in their quickstep, he's mastered smiling-while-dancing, anyhow. Asha's jive was lively and toe tapping, although prompting a "be aware that you do have feet, darling, at the end of those legs" from Craig. Nice sparkly chair, by the way! And Booooo to those bastard complainers, stopping us getting an eyeful of Ben and Ashley, making them wear vests. I think the rest of us should all complain about that. Who's with me?

And so to Patya and our desperately-sad-to-go Robrah. Get used to the shocks every week now, unless this result gives a bit of a jolt to the voters. Deborah was one of those who came into the competition and totally fell in love with dancing, and they usually get a decent journey as a result. Patya did a very groovy salsa, considering his injury, a damn fine job. And Robrah's Viennese Waltz was their best dance yet, a nice flow and elegance. Tiny consolation - dress of the night. Gorgeous.

Elsewhere in the results show, the professionals brought us a captivating Japanese inspired lyrical hip hop mix to 'Halo', Earth Wind and Fire are still throwing the same shapes they did all those years ago. Len's Lens highlighted Natalie clocking Artem's fractured nose with her elbow; Anton's face; Ashley's leap frog; Patrick's one handed lift and Dave's hairography. And Claudia came to the party wearing an amniotic sac. Why would she do that?

It's Halloween next! Wooooooooohooooooo ...