I took a bit of a break during the festive season but I can’t entirely ignore this countdown can I? And what better way to get to talk about the dances I never got to cover!
I hadn’t expected this list to be quite as dominated by Salsas as it was – I knew there would be Jives and Charlestons aplenty but there was not a single Tango, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep, Foxtrot or Rumba to be seen, and only a single lonely Paso Doblé – and it wasn’t even one of the many Evanescence Pasos – this is Brendan Cole erasure!
25. Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev: JIVE
This list begins as it will continue: Jives. And this certainly is one of the better ones and came with the genuine peril of Ashley Roberts potentially decking it if that tablecloth removal went even slightly wrong – they also did this on the tour and from what I can tell it never went wrong then either, so well done them! but my main lingering memory of this routine is opn It Takes Two when they made Ashley Roberts try various items from the menu of a Blackpool chippy
She was not a fan of the pickled eggs.
24. Frankie Saturday and Kevin Clifton: PASO DOBLÉ
I don’t hate them, I just hate that this is the only Paso Doblé on the list. There are so many to choose from, even from Kevin Clifton’s own danceography, or are the BBC still feuding so much with Susanna Reid that they daren’t mention her name? At least give a mention to Anita Rani and Gleb’s sordid sex dungeon of a Paso routine, I MEAN
50 Shades of Olé!
But back to Frankie and Kevin’s which was fine but failed to feel like a true Paso and to me was overwhelmed by both the theme and the audience clapping out of time – but Frankie’s skirt flapping was certainly admirable and draughty.
23. DEBBEH and Giovanni Pernice: SALSA
Giovanni is mostly proud of this dance because he got to do something that nobody on the show had ever done before, by which he means he wore Debbie McGee like a glove and swung around the dancefloor
It’s no wonder she could materialise a tambourine from her nethers.
22. ALEXANDRA BURKE and GORKA MARQUEZ: JIVE
I’m super glad Alexandra gets a mention because good Lord did she get a shit deal at that hands of Dan Wootton and every rag journalist that ran with that garbage storyline of her being a diva backstage. But on a more positive note, her Jive STORMED IT and should be in the top 10, never has someone been better suited to a Tina Turner Jive. Sorry Clara.
My personal favourite part has to be the moment Alexandra goes into a standing foetal position just so Gorka could do a leapfrog over her head
I will always slightly miss overly self-indulgent Gorka.
21. ALESHA DIXON and MATTHEW CUTLER: CHA CHA CHA
I was 15 when she did this routine (I know, brag) and one of my most prominent memories of it was Craig saying during an interview that he was nervous for Alesha because he thought she would get too into the rhythm and “go berserk” (his ACTUAL words) and all my teenage brain could imagine was Alesha being so overcome by the powers of both Beyonce and The Cha Cha Cha that she would morph into a 50 foot tall woman, destroy the entire studio and climb atop the tallest building in London clutching Tess Daly like a remake of King Kong. Thankfully she managed to control herself and deliver a truly iconic dance that far too low on the list and somehow her only routine on the list.
20. ASTON MERRYGOLD and JANETTE MANRARA: CHA CHA CHA
A deserving entry because who doesn’t love a blistering display of passive aggression all wrapped up in the sugary coating of a children’s film? Because lest we forget, just the week prior to this Charlotte Hawkins and failed her Pot Stirrer in spectacular fashion which I will now cruelly Gif for you all
And Janette seized this opportunity to show them how it was done
They did have to take the opportunity quickly because they were eliminated 3 weeks later because of Janette’s brainfart of a routine that was that Jackson 5 Viennese Waltz – Janette has never been better or worse than she was with her run with Aston. And yes, I know she was partnered with both Julien MacDonald and Melvin Odoom.
19. SIMON WEBBE and KRISTINA RIHANOFF: ARGENTINE TANGO
Honestly, this should absolutely be in the top 5 – it’s everything an Argentine Tango should be and more. The pure drama of that final pose has yet to be surpassed by any other dance, let alone an Argentine Tango
IT’S SO GOOD.
18. ABBEY CLANCY and ALJAZ SKORJANEC: WALTZ
I literally remember NOTHING about this – or lets be honest, Abbey Clancy’s entire Strictly run, except for maybe her disco Salsa, but there’s enough salsas on here to put Chiquitos out of business.
Over my dead body.
16. JAKE WOOD and JANETTE MANRARA: SALSA
Janette could smell that final and boy was she GOING FOR IT. Her fingerprints are all over this routine, from Jake’s hips swinging around like an 80s fad work out to the showcase of her INSANE core strength
It’s a fun, loud and boisterous routine that truly does deserve it’s palce on the list, even just for Jake Wood’s tendency to gurn for England
I know that last one is from his Charleston but really, has the show ever seen a more elastic face?
15. LOUIS SMITH and FLAVIA CACACE: SALSA
I’m slightly confused why this is here, I’m glad to see Flavia, but they had better dances – their showdance for one – and I’ll be honest, I found this dance a bit laboured and entirely unmemorable except for that final lift, which isn’t enough for it to be in my favourite dances of all time.
14. ORE ODUBA and JOANNE CLIFTON: JIVE
This has always stuck in my mind as the greatest jive the show has ever seen (that doesn’t include pro dances, in which case Rebel Yell is the best Jive). It was classic, to the point and was entirely focused around Ore and his abilities – and yet there are 3 other Jives placed higher because we always knew which routine would top the chart, The Legacy of Jill Halfpenny must remain intact and apparently everyone really loved Karim?
13. CHRIS HOLLINS and OLA JORDAN: CHARLESTON
There’s always one dance that solidifies a winner and this Charleston was that dance for Chris and Ola. I’m not usually one for Charlestons, I think they’ve come to be a bit too… the same? But Chris just suited it so well and of course, the infamous Dancefloor Doggy Paddle was born
It set a high bar for Charleston choreography and I think the only person to come up to it is Pasha and Caroline’s Charleston.
12. TOM CHAMBERS and CAMILLA DALLERUP: SHOWDANCE
Before we get to the dance, lets take a moment to appreciate Motsi trying to talk about this dance without knowing who Tom Chambers is or ever having seen this routine and constantly glancing at her cue cards
I love her so much.
At least 90% of what I remember of this routine is Camilla’s outfit and the furore it caused that she had DARED TO DANCE IN TROUSERS! A discourse that is still happening to this day in regards to the many trousers Nicola Adams wore and she was singlehandedly RUINING THE MEDIUM OF DAHNCE for doing so. The other 10% is the cartwheel in the middle of the routine. I’m personally not a big fan of this – it felt too much like an audition for the West End and while that is a level of self-indulgence I can admire, it left me cold.
11. MARK RAMPRAKASH and KAREN HARDY: SALSA
Has the show ever had a stronger visual than Karen Hardy stopping dead in the midst of a routine and pulling a big old X with her arms? I think not. And don’t even get me started on Brucie fureiously yelling “STOP!!” at the band and being completely drowned out by the over enthusiastic trumpet player. The routine is barely a dot in my memory, but the proceeding, introductory chaos lives on in technicolour.
10. ORE ODUBA and JOANNE CLIFTON: AMERICAN SMOOTH
I can’t believe they included this version and not his Showdance version that was essentially this exact routine but on poppers, acid and bag of Haribo from the 90s. But I suppose this one did have the jeopardy of the umbrella flick that they spent a whole week on It Takes Two gearing up the dangers of it – you would honestly have thought he was disarming a bomb, can’t wait for that Hurt Locker themed routine in the next series because we’ve fast exhausted Movie Week.
I did like this routine, more for Joanne’s outfit than anything else but it’s a fair 10th placement.
9. FAYE TOZER and GIOVANNI PERNICE: CHARLESTON
The dance was good, the fact they both looked like a pair of dolls from a Blumhouse horror movie was really the selling point for me. I was lucky enough to see it on the tour where somehow it managed to be even more of an acid trip with giant humanoid goats dancing around (and who were obviously not professional dancers in any way, shape or form) it was the purest form of chaos I have ever witnessed first hand. However, I’m not sure it’s Faye’s best dance – it just has a memorable aesthetic and it being Giovanni’s first steps into the drag closet because their Skeletor Does Chicago routine was ROBBED of this list.
This routine really does live in my mind rent free.
8. CAROLINE FLACK and PASHA KOVALEV: SHOWDANCE
She really was a stunning dancer wasn’t she? It’s hard to even talk about this routine without mentioning the fact it takes on a very different significance given the circumstances of her death and at more than one point in the routine did I get goosebumps.
But it would be remiss not to mention that Pasha’s open shirt that we all appreciated very much.
7. KARIM ZEROUAL and AMY DOWDEN: JIVE
Well, if I accused Tom Chambers of doing a full on West End audition, I can’t really not mention the entirity of the routine, up to and including the final multiple pirouetted ending in which Karim mostly just looked utterly terrified
Personally I preferred Karim’s Charleston because his big, girthy talent was better showcased
They certainly can’t air that before 9pm anymore.
6. JILL HALFPENNY and DARREN BENNETT: JIVE
Ah yes, the tale of momentary peril and quick thinking that the BBC have dined out on for 16 years – Nancy’s possessed feather boa never got the same treatment! That’s the true injustice.
But this Jive is true classic Strictly in every sense, the lack of set design, the focus on choreography and of course Darren’s truly terrible outfit
Bring back the sleeveless shirt and tie combo, I DARE YOU VICKY GILL!
5. CAROLINE FLACK and PASHA KOVALEV: CHARLESTON
A worthy champion of The Charlestons and certainly Caroline Flack’s greatest Strictly achievement. To me it teeters slightly over the edge of Charleston and into a full on theatrical performance – there is so much content packed into the 90 second routine and a fair bit of it dubiously problematic…
I of course have to mention Pasha’s expert dismissal of the errant fez
What an absolute gentleman.
4. ED BALLS and KATYA JONES: SALSA
The fact Katya has done some of the most impressively original and interesting choreography on the show and THIS is her only appearance on the list is a travesty – not even Seann and her Matrix routine got a shout out – although, they’ve probably burnt all of those tapes like they did anything pre-series 5. I suppose I should just be glad their The Mask routine wasn’t here because we’d have to relive that nightmare all over again – that Katya hanging between the legs of Ed Balls wasn’t nightmarish in and of itself. BUT HOW IS THIS ROUTINE THIS HIGH!? I call voter fraud.
3. KELVIN FLETCHER and OTI MABUSE: SAMBA
I inexplicably hate this routine. I hate the styling, they’ve somehow managed to make Oti look like both a goldfish and moulting parrot suffering from acute anxiety but most of all, I hate this entire section of the routine that looks like a particularly acrobatic blowie
I can admire and appreciate the skill that that all obviously took but Christ it isn’t just unattractive.
2. DANNY MAC and OTI MABUSE: SAMBA
This was the Samba to end all Sambas – it was one part incredibly comedic, I mean look at it
and one part incredibly hot – it’s a potent combination.
1. Jay McGuinness and ALIONA VILANI: JIVE
NONE OF US SAW THIS COMING AT ALL… And I put it to you that this Jive is mostly remembered because of the theme and music rather than the actual content because whenever I go to watch it back I’m left slightly disappointed – I’ve always thought their Argentine Tango was a superior dance, but this did also have the surprise novelty of being a Week 3 performance – can you imagine what they could’ve done if it was in week 7 or 8? I’m also being harsh, Aliona utilised the Pulp Fiction theme incredibly well and didn’t let it hinder the dance – I like to think the dance originally ended with her having a shot of adrenalin thrust into her chest and the producers forced her to change it.
If they ever did this again I think out of all the dances done in 2020 we would expect to see Bill and Oti’s Street routine, HRVY and Janette’s American Smooth (as much as I disagree with that) and I’ll throw in a potential maybe for Maisie and Gorka’s Showdance or Quickstep.