WWKD: What Would Katya Do?
That pained howl you heard 5 minutes before this was published was when I accidentally deleted the whole thing and mashed CTRL-Z like I was James Bye doing a Jive.
It’s Pre-Blackpool Week, which you know because the word “Blackpool” gets mentioned 4 times within the first minute of the show with a overly blue hued picture of The Tower being projected onto a brick wall like the opening titles of the BBC’s latest localised crime drama and not something everyone should be looking forward to
and I’m not saying they already knew how this weekend was going to go but there wasn’t a great deal of Tony featured in the Yearning For Blackpool Montage.
In the Not Blackpool Tower And Therefore Inferior Ballroom, we are joined by our hostesses, who may have swapped shoes just beforehand?
although I’m really not sure they would have looked any more sensible on Claudia – I did think they’d stop going to the wide shot of Tess and the contestants receiving their critiques because the boots were such a distracting eyesore
they’re like the extension you’re very annoyed your neighbour built because they didn’t violate the building regulations, but it looks like they violated the building regulations.
As for the judges, apparently nobody told Motsi that everyone was meant to be wearing black
but she did do a very good job of blending into the staircase like a technicoloured chameleon
I also just very much enjoy the limited edition Lisa Frank airbrushed velveteen stickerness of it all – this dress belongs on the cover of a junior school girl’s english workbook.
Ellie Taylor & Johannes Radebe
Charleston / Friendship – Anything Goes
It does surprise me that it’s taken them until Week 8 to give Ellie a Charleston, considering it feels like the only reason they cast her was for her to do The Charleston, but perhaps they delayed their hand because they clearly like having her on the show and The Charleston has been responsible for 4 of the 6 eliminations so far – what was once the favoured dance for a Redemption Routine after landing in the bottom two has fast become The New Samba, but is it that surprising? This year’s Charlestons have either felt like retreads of slightly tired themes
have been almost entirely static
or so gummed up in a theme that they defy even the most rigorous of scientific studies
the world’s longest and least satisfying walk to a “Zombiekeeper” pun imaginable – I hope it was worth it, whoever’s dad decided on that theme.
With the only three Charlestons to survive the chop being Tyler’s, Tony’s and Kym’s (and even if Tony had wound up in the bottom 2 in week two we’d still have been choosing between either his or Kaye’s Charlestons). Meanwhile Kym and Tyler both had Movie Week Charlestons that were definitely based on movies and not stage shows… which is definitely the angle that Ellie and Johannes were going for in their Off-season Musicals Week, Anything Goes Charleston which all starts with the two of them slinking out of the The Tower of London’s VIP entrance?
of all the medium-sized building facades you have at your disposal, why the Ye Olde Dungeon Door? And sticking up a few comedy club posters and stock images of martinis around it doesn’t disguise what it is!
But after their night of drinking with the ghosts of The Lost Prince and Lady Jane Grey, both doomed to an eternity of mocktails, Ellie and Johannes, having adopted the names Cici and *checks notes* Athanasius (also a fan of the band Rotting Christ, I assume Johannes?) were ready to paint the town red, but not before Ellie was a little bit sick in a bin
I hope she checked for rogue Katya’s beforehand
But because this is the 1930s, instead of kidnapping traffic cones and putting them on the heads of statues and bus stops or trying to order a kebab while struggling to stand up while insisting you’re fine, their hijinkx mostly included disturbing the peace through excessive and aggressive quacking
and doing truly terrible things to Johannes’s very nice blazer
although their other trick with the blazer, which thankfully came before Ellie flossed her nethers with it, was very cute and I wish they had maybe done a little more with it
but the last thing you need in a Charleston is to make it that much harder by turning it into a three-legged race – although Nancy might be adding that to the Big Book of Nancy’s Xu’s Dance Torture Devices.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable Charleston overall, aided significantly by the choice of song which let Ellie get away with a lot of the gangly awkwardness that she still has at times, which the dress also helped disguise – it was like watching some sort of hypnotic deep sea creature before is devours you whole and slowly digests you in one of its 7 stomachs
in motion that is, when she was standing still she did look a bit like one of the twins from The Shining
which I only realised as she and Johannes lay motionless on the floor and suddenly I, like poor little Danny Torrance, was just having visions of an axe murder scene (I’ll spare you the comparative screenshot) which would certainly be quite the ending to a Charleston
but I did very much enjoy Ellie wildly flailing her limbs like an upturned tortoise
and of course they had praise lavished upon them and how Ellie could tread the boards as a musical theatre performer before being drowned beneath a cascade of middling 8s and a 7
ok, they didn’t say she was a West End musical performer, there’s always the Edinburgh Fringe.
Tyler West’s Pecs & DIANNE.
Paso Doble / Unstoppable – E.S. Posthumus
A quick review of Tyler’s Paso Doble
sometimes we’re all The Broken Banana.
Much like his bananaing, it all started off so well for Tyler and Dianne, who were ushering in the Nouveau Age of the Sex Dungeon Paso after last year’s dip into the cool, weird waters of the paso dobles that all felt like high concept photoshoots from America’s Next Top Model, no TITS OUT FOR THE GIRLS is back in action!
it was a less good start for whoever was on Poppy Duty, as they had to contemplate either pinning the poppy to Tyler’s glittery epaulettes or his high-waisted trousers, or maybe draw a little one on his nip? In the end they decided that *might* be a bit disrespectful, so they just made sure to make him wear a sensible velvet bolero after the dance
COWARDS. There have to be temporary poppy tattoos out there somewhere!
Sadly this paso doble lived and died by Tyler’s chest because most of it was just posturing in ways that would even make Gaston think you were doing a little too much
it just all felt a little too walky and I’m very much on the Craig end of the scoring spectrum for this, it just seemed awkward, not least of all because he scooted Dianne between his legs with less grace than Ellie Taylor flossing with a blazer
I can’t quite fathom Anton’s 9 and can only assume he looked for too long into the flaming diamond and visions of Faye and Giovanni’s own Fantastical Sex Dungeon Paso Doble to Unstoppable By E.G. Posthumous Featuring Fire And A Lot of Diamonds about a foursome gone awry flashed before his eyes
I’m not accusing anyone of theft (YOU’RE ON NOTICE, BUSWELL), but this routine did just feel like a little bit like Faye and Giovanni Lite and I was a bit disappointed that during the slow quiet dip, Tyler didn’t scream like he was having his innards ripped out like Faye did
there’s only so much that getting your tits out can do for you before you have to start hamming it up, Tyler.
I did also love the fact Shirley worded her critique so clumsily because she just wanted to say Dianne’s name, but the slightly pregnant pause before emphatically saying “DIANNE.” did only just make it look like she had momentarily forgotten Dianne’s name – out of the frying pan and into the fandom fire.
Kym Marsh & Graziano Di Prima
American Smooth / Chasing Cars – Not Snow Patrol
With Couple’s Choice now just being a street dance free for all, The American Smooth seems to have taken on the emotional burden of being everyone’s personal trauma dumping ground, unless you’re Will Mellor in which case The American Smooth fucks and The Rumba is for the Deep Sads. Kym was of course dedicating her American Smooth to her son Archie who died after being born prematurely, which is utterly devastating and as someone who has seen people go through infant or baby loss, I know the toll that can take on a person, and I’m glad Kym is at a place where she can be so candid about it, because I know that’s very important to a lot of people. I’m also glad Graziano put together such a beautiful routine for her, especially because this song was her High Ticket Item
First Leona Lewis takes Run from them, now Paw Patrol steals their Chasing Cars! Although the show didn’t even credit Snow Patrol because they were using the Cinematic Pop version – the erasure of late-2000s indie bands is for the greater good.
As I said, it was a beautiful routine, there was a genuine sense of fragility to the whole thing, like you were watching a pair of glass figurines dancing together, which made the lifts that much more striking
and sure, she offered her wrong leg into one of the lifts, and we know how that’s ended for some people in the past…
but she corrected herself and the resulting lift was pretty damn spectacular
I just really, really liked this dance, and the fact FINALLY someone hit the correct lighting spot at the end of their routine
so it was pretty upsetting to see Kym so discouraged over the little mistake, which Craig had made quite a big issue of by calling it “a total disaster” when it clearly wasn’t, as Giovanni would let you know
not that Claudia bellowing “I’M SORRY YOU’RE SAD!” at her was helping much as she fretted over potentially costing Graziano the chance of dancing at Blackpool
There’s a reason Dr. Winkleman’s Therapy Chaise had its BACP membership revoked.
Helen Skelton, Gorka & Gorka’s Ass
Salsa / Despacito – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee
Gorka loves a salsa, Gorka’s butt loves a salsa and and they’ve only had the opportunity to do two on the show since they joined in 2016, with Alexandra Burke and Maisie Smith, the only problem for them was the fact the last place Helen wanted to be was on that vaguely Spanish courtyard dance floor doing the salsa, entering the stage while desperately trying not to make eye contact with the camera because if one doesn’t look at the headlights, one cannot become the deer in said headlights
and I can’t help but feel that a little bit of her nervousness was because Helen (still on her mission to find her inner sexiness or did we abandon that storyline shortly after the Cha-Cha-Cha?) knew that THIS move was coming up
just as the song says “This is how we do it in Puerto Rico” and everything… But she’s definitely just tying her shoelaces kids – take the left bunny ear and fold it over the other bunny ear and then poke it through the hole.
Of course a salsa is not a salsa without a few lifts and we’ve had some pretty spectacular ones so far, and Gorka was promising us some very dangerous ones, one of which wasn’t so much a lift as it was just throwing a woman like some sort of niche rural sport from the foothills of the Pyrenees
and then the others were kind of your bog standard salsa cartwheels – I don’t think anyone should really be hyping their salsa lifts up after Hamza gleefully tossed Jowita around like it was Shrove Tuesday or Katya using Tony Adams as a glorified yoga mat unless they know they’ve got something seriously big up their sleeves.
Shirley brought up the issue with Helen’s spotting, which is making her movements all a little bit too tentative, and somehow it’s week 8 and Helen doesn’t really know what spotting is – GORKA! What have you been teaching her? YOU HAD A VIENNESE WALTZ!? And so, with a round of fairly tepid 8s (somehow the highest scoring dance of the evening) Helen made sure to play the Family Wars Trump Card when asked about wanting to go to Blackpool
a perfect execution of familial manipulation – 10s across the board, Gorka is extremely proud of her.
Tony Adams & Evil Genius, Katya Jones
Jive / Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett
I always knew this would result in a cult.
We start this Jiven’t For the Ages in the bedroom of the famed kleptomaniac Katya Jones, fresh after her burglary of James Bye’s Vintage Record Store
the K Jones calling card in the top left was a nice touch, but did lead the Rock and Roll police right to her door
and this wouldn’t be the first time this evening that Tony Adams would rupture through one of his own body parts as perhaps that trust in Katya, like one of his spinal discs, was a little misplaced, as Katya’s seeming attempts to somehow kill Tony Adams finally caught up to the roadrunner of dance after the tandem pillbug, which I suppose makes Katya The Wile E. Coyote of Strictly
I am imploring anyone and everyone to send videos of themselves attempting to do this move in to It Takes Two to the point where all of Katya’s routines have to come with a “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” safety warning. And yes, you do have to include the awkward waddling away like you’ve just realised there’s no toilet paper on the holder and the only other roll is just out of arm’s reach
we’ve all been there, just never in the middle of a jive, although I won’t judge your bathroom habits.
I was very grateful that Tony put down the guitar before they began the routine so that we didn’t have a repeat of Tom and Amy struggling to jive while Tom held onto his own, very expensive, electric guitar
truly some of the most wretched choreography I’ve ever seen, instead Katya just opted for the safer option of the leg guitar
I’m still not entirely convinced that Tony Adams isn’t just Tom Fletcher from the future trying to right the wrongs of his time on Strictly – Tony was a devil that wasn’t completely unsightly on Halloween, Tony has managed to be emotionally vulnerable, Tony didn’t let the guitar ruin his jive and he certainly hasn’t dedicated a tonally weird routine to his sister
IT ALL ADDS UP!
I didn’t think this jive was that bad, it far exceeded my expectations, it was certainly better than Matt Goss’s limbs wildly flailing about with no care for what his brain was telling them do, sure some of the kicks looked a bit like someone playing Mortal Kombat was mashing the X button, but some of it was really good and well synchronised!
and I don’t know that it all quite warranted Shirley holding her head in her hands like she was having an emotional breakdown
although I’m fully with her on the stunned horror when Tony offered her a go at roly-polying with him
yeah, I’m not sure an HR Violation is quite how you make it up to someone after you told them to go home, Tony.
There were obviously a lot of mistakes and he clearly had no idea what to do with his arms when he didn’t have them clasped around Katya’s ankles
but we can ignore them enough to give you 7s apparently.
Molly Rainford & Rumba King, Carlos Gu
Rumba / All The Man That I Need – Whitney Houston
I’m genuinely shocked that they allowed Molly anywhere near a Rumba, the CBBC stars who are still very much on the payroll still don’t usually touch it with a barge pole, no the Rumba is reserved for the ones trying to break out of their child-friendly boxes, and with Molly still pushing out content like this
I was surprised, but they did also owe it to Carlos to let him do a Rumba because he kind of did just walk onto the show and declare himself The Rumba King of Strictly and everyone just shrugged and went with it because it’s not nearly as desirable a title as King of Halloween apparently.
The Rumba King’s most sage advice for the rumba being “walk like a cat”
that’s also how they went about making CATS (2019) – do we think I could manifest a rumba to Memory in Musicals Week? I’ll sell my soul for it, I know a guy!
and with most of the remaining cast having done their rumbas, all my hopes like on Tyler, Fleur or Helen. I think Tyler’s my best bet – he’s clearly up for being weirdly naked and Dianne hasn’t met a tin of body paint she wouldn’t slather herself in.
This rumba however was a much more classy affair, it did after all have the patented Strictly Rumba Drapery
and Carlos certainly earned his title as Rumba King of Strictly, there was a lot of very striking choreography
but there is still just something about the Rumba that feels like I’m watching an NPC in a video game trying to walk their designated path and finding it’s been blocked by a door you closed
but what I think made this particular rumba so good was the balance between the slow and the fast, which did sometimes get a little too fast and it looked like she was the victim of a shark attack
it’s very Monica thinking Chandler finds sharks sexy and thrashing around in the bath for him, and I just want Carlos to know if that’s what he’s into, I don’t kink shame and I will thrash around like a tiger shark in shallow water for him. But remember, this wasn’t a sexy rumba, this was AN AGE APPROPRIATE FEELINGS RUMBA
I don’t know what that means because she’s literally 21 years old, but I too would probably have said it if I had Uncle Anton next to me rubbing his thighs after Molly gave us some vintage mid-90s Pamela Anderson
this was her moment and she took it!
Fleur East & Vito Coppola
Samba / Hot Hot Hot – Arrow
FLEUR. HAS. FRIENDS.
and Fleur’s friends all have hurriedly pinned on poppies, lest this be seen as a disrespectful public gathering and The Poppy Police burst through the walls of their Lest We Forgetless Speakeasy like Tony Adams raiding the bedroom of Katya Jones. (not like that).
“It’s themed around chilli peppers” said Vicky Gill on It Takes Two as she unveiled the early workings of Fleur’s dress that will absolutely be used to save money as Luba got a glimpse of the Sambaing Elf of Christmas Future
aside from the dress looking like a festive jalapeño, the thing I was most worried about was the 75% risk of there being a sombrero involved in this routine, fortunately for everyone, Bake Off had dipped their toes in those problematic waters and been burnt, so Vito was just an unstereotyped chilli pepper salesman
and Fleur was… the bell pepper of his dreams?
I mean, she looks as good as anyone could hope to in a dress that looks like a prolapsing Christmas tree, and one must suffer for the Beyoncé Couple’s Choice Medley they’re going to do in Blackpool – she’s 100% going to be put in that golden disco samurai outfit that Vicky Gill has kicking around after she realised that AJ wouldn’t be able to cartwheel in it with severying at least one of Kai’s appendages
PUT IT BACK IN THE CUPBOARD VICKY.
The issue that Fleur has faced with her Latin routines is that they tend to get a little manic – we all remember the magnitude 8 Cha Cha Cha and the Salsa that not even gravity could contain, despite all its efforts
(I just wanted to gif that) but this Samba was a really good mix of very fast and very controlled, because every now and again it would go HARD and you’d think “OH NO! The old Fleur is back! Elstree is doomed!”
but then they’d go into a really nice, poised bit of choreography that was more about her hold and control
I think that’s what was missing for their earlier routines, because as much as I love Fleur going at it like she’s being possessed by every samba dancer that came before her, it does work better when it has some contrast. And the result was a barnstormer of a samba and got a thunderous ovation from the audience, with Motsi being completely overcome by it and applauding her like Charles Foster Kane
and while she and everyone up in the balcony got a little weepy, Nikita was having visions like he was in a Pentecostal Church service
The Father, The Son and The Very Sweaty Vito
and Fleur stands beside him, not a single bead of sweat in sight.
Will Mellor & Nancy Xu
Waltz / Three Times A Lady – Commodores
It’s been quite the week in the British Reality TV World and I don’t think anything quite sums it up better than Matt Hancock, responsible for the deaths of an uncountable amount of people over his mishandling of the pandemic, tripping his way into the jungle and a £400,000 paycheck under the guise of creating awareness of dyslexia (which he’s failed to mention even once so far) for a little bit of forgiveness as a treat after eating a kangaroo’s anus, while Will Mellor dedicates a very emotional routine, inspired by his own father’s death during the early stages of SAID pandemic, to anyone that lost a loved and didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye – and I can’t help but think the former influenced the latter.
It’s a heavy topic, this routine was beautiful
but it did kill the vibe of the entire show – the whole episode was a bit like watching one big live hormonal mood swing during HRT Week, but this was the peak and valley of that experience as Claudia valiantly pursued an interview with Will and Nancy that clearly wasn’t going to go anywhere because Will could barely speak and Claudia, like a parrot that learned to speak in a therapist’s office, could only say “I’m so sorry you’re sad”
while everyone else around them kind of shuffled their feet or just completely disassociated
Think of Nova Jones. Think of Nova Jones. Think of Nova Jones. Think of Nova Jones. Think of Nova Jones.
We do at least have another location to add to the Catalogue of Melancholic Dances, with Will’s Waltz taking place in a VR’d Opera Hall
which was giving me, and I hate to be a broken record, a little bit of CATS (2019) energy
Will Mellor, you ARE the Jellicle Choice!
Hamza Yassin & Jowita Pryzstal
Couple’s Choice / Jerusalema – Master KG
I really didn’t think anything could possibly revive the studio from the stupor of sorrow, but if anyone could it, it was Hamza! And if anyone was going to ruin it, it was Claudia Winkleman with a video message from his grandmother! Again, no longer a licensed therapist.
As promised Hamza and Jowita were doing a dance that paid homage to his African heritage – his VT being spent telling us all about his move from Sudan to the UK, with plenty of footage of Hamza being adorable with his family
and adorable childhood photos
this might be the closest I get to the Medium-sized Horse this year, unless My Boy shows up in Blackpool – HAVE FAITH IN YOU!
And so in order to ensure its authenticity as African Dance, they had brought in special guest choreographer, Patience
which is a bloody relief because the thought of a Jason Gilkison aided African Dance fills me with dread and I can’t possibly think why…
still a yikes from me, Jason.
There was also the risk of how they’d approach the VR, especially with Hamza also focusing a lot on his interest in animals, which he came to through his dyslexia, so I was also a bit worried that we’d have a gummy looking Noah’s Arc of Zoo Tycoon presets wandering around the dancefloor, but no, we got this very tasteful opening digital set piece to set the vibe
and it was all just a thoroughly joyful and enjoyable routine from beginning to end, and yes he was quite a bit out of sync at the end of the routine because he missed one of the kicks
but it was hard to really care about it at all considering he’d just twirled Jowita over his shoulder with all the ease of a majorette twirling a baton
and it does seem that Jowita and Katya are locked in some sort of antigravity death match, to see who can do the most insane stunts as they both vie for Janette’s title as Queen of Bonkers Lifts
Craig however could not get over the timing issue, which had the same energy as him critiquing Rose and Giovanni’s Couple’s Choice the first time they did it, and everyone looked thoroughly embarrassed
how were you not completely convinced into giving them at least a 9 for the little whirlpooling giraffe charade at the end?
instead it was an 8 and an avalanche of booing
Motsi found the whole thing incredibly moving though
and after she had scraped herself off the desk to put an end to TessBot’s Baby Voice (this is what happens when everyone plays their High Emotion Card the week before Blackpool’s Trauma Cut Off Point!) She spoke very well about the importance of having African dance recognised on Strictly Come Dancing, especially in such a joyful and unfetished way (Ahem, Gilkison) before she demanded Jowita take a DNA test, both to check her ancestry and to make sure she isn’t just 1 Janette Manrara in half a trench coat.
and so, to our Leaderboard!
|1st||Hot Hot Hot and Bothered||39|
|The Jellicle Choice Waltz||38|
|4th||Sexy Thrashing Rumba||37|
|5th||Helen Skelton Hating Her Life For 90 Seconds||32|
|6th||The Shining: The Musical!||31|
|The Return of the Sex Dungeon Paso||31|
|An American Smooth As Glass||31|
|9th||A Jiving Medical Emergency||24|
and I’ll see you in the Result’s Show recap which I imagine will probably be quite short given the circumstances.
And if you’ve enjoyed this recap and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.