This is my favourite Renaissance painting.
Let’s all check into The Hotel del Gorka!
It’s the post-Blackpool Blues so everyone has to be super serious this week as we head into the final stages of the competition, looking back into their mirrors darkly and wondering what on earth happened to that giddy Week 1 joy when you kind of knew Kaye Adams was a safe Duffer Buffer
there is no light, there is only dance now.
Will Mellor & Nancy Xu
Charleston / Hush – Kula Shaker
The concept of this charleston has plagued me all week, slowly but surely turning my brain into Mind Soup. The biggest question being “Why?” because a Kula Shaker Charleston does not at all feel like something that became organically conceptualised within the Strictly Biodome, so I could only assume that for whatever reason Hush by Kula Shaker was Will cashing in one of the few remaining High Ticket Item Coupons left after Jayde burnt her way through the entire book in about 4 weeks – AND FOR WHAT JAYDE? FOR WHAT? – then Will’s VT came along and… nothing, despite it being the most talked about dance on It Takes Two, the reason for bringing a Neo-psychadelia Charleston kicking, screaming and somewhat swivelling into existence went completely unsaid, but we did get to meet is kids
which was worth it just for Twitter to have a total meltdown because they thought his kids were about 6 years old from the way he’s talked about them on the show. You can’t gaslight your way into winning Family Wars, Will! Who do you think you? Molly Rainford and her cupboard full of for hire friends?
Out on the dancefloor and we join Will and Nancy in the MasterChef Pantry as they watch someone questionably fillet a turbot
SO IT’S NOT EVEN AESTHETICALLY KULA SHAKER? Although I can’t really blame them, the Strictly Wardrobe department can be a cruel mistress, but they aren’t *this* cruel
Will better count his lucky stars, he saw what they did to Vito in the name of ABBA, and you know there’s a coonskin cap lurking in there somewhat waiting for some poor unfortunate soul to be tricked into doing a frontiersman themed Viennese Waltz.
I will say though, it is refreshing to not have another 1930s themed Charleston involving twee lawn sports or the golden palm trees, but at the same time this may have gone a little too far in the other direction and it did feel a little bit like being invited to a meeting that could have been a jive, but they blew their Will Mellor Jive in Week 1 and God knows why considering there were two other jives that week. Am I alone in thinking the dance allocations have been super weird this year? We’ve only had 5 Paso Dobles and only 1 of those was by a male celebrity AND ONE OF THEM WAS THEMED AROUND THE APPRENTICE. You’re running out of time to put Will in high-waisted trousers guys, but by all means, waste our time on this
I actually really liked that move, and it might be the only thing I really remember about this Charleston because everytime I watch it, I do feel like I know less about myself by the end of it. AND THEN IT GOT TWO BLOODY 10S
quick Pro Challenge Sidebar (anything to not talk about this routine) but God bless the absolute shit show that the Charleston Kick Step Record Attempt is
the fact anyone could come in, do about 10 of the slowest steps imaginable and probably win the entire thing? Iconic, I suggest you all put on your dancing shoes, watch a YouTube tutorial for 5 minutes and send in your attempts, you’ll apparently be a better Charlestoner than Neil Jones by the end of it.
And then after all that, I really shouldn’t throw stones because my dream Charleston music is Cabaret by North of Never – if we can do Raga Rock Charlestons, we can do Post-grunge Charlestons.
Molly Rainford & Carlos Gu
Tango / Bad Guy – Billie Eilish
I am entirely surprised that we didn’t end up with a slightly weird routine to Taylor Swift’s 22 this week given that Molly turned 22, which did mean we got a third edition of Molly Has Frie…Colleagues?
Nobody showed up for Matt Goss’s birthday, he had to eat his whole carrot cake on his own because Nadiya wasn’t going to be caught dead eating carbs on camera
I think about him every time I have a slice of carrot cake, which is surprisingly regularly.
But Molly wasn’t the only one aging this week because Carlos seemed to momentarily step into one of Kai’s Temporal Bubbles and briefly became 50 years old
someone also pointed out he looks like Elon Musk in that screenshot and I do not appreciate it – nobody is ever allowed to aggressively overlight Carlos EVER AGAIN.
Molly turning 22 did mean that they could finally do a fairly sexy routine that didn’t need to be lampshaded as AGE APPROPRIATE STORYTELLING if you wanted to know what the Strictly age of maturity is, which is why she was was dressed as close to a MotoGP Grid Girl as you could feasibly get with a tango dress
and I don’t want to write the words “reflective skidmark” but Vicky Gill has left me no choice. And because Molly was going from CBBC to BBC3, she and Carlos were taking a dip in the Public Pool of Pent Up Sexual Frustration
they grow up so fast.
This was probably my favourite routine of the night – everything felt very cohesive, the lighting and staging allowed Carlos and Molly to stand out, it’s very hard to mess up Bad Guy by Billie Eilish and Carlos’s Choreography was GREAT and not just because Molly stepped on him
my only qualm with the whole thing was the fact Carlos didn’t do anything with the “Duh.” in the middle of the song, it’s kind of the biggest and most memorable part of the whole thing, so I wish they’d hit it with something dramatic to give the routine a nice bit of poise and slowness in the middle, which would have made the sharpness in the second half that much more impressive.
And then Claudia had to go and ruin it all by something something stupid like “Your brother’s in the audience, he must be looking at you like ‘Oooh, who’s this now?'”
CLAUDIA NO! The FanFic writers are starved for prompts, don’t tempt them! They will do it. Quick! Someone distract them!
Ellie “Thelma” Taylor & Johannes “Louise” Radebe
Jive / Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
At what point do we think Ellie realised that this was going to be her final week? Finding out Kym had tested positive for Covid, or when they told her she and Johannes would be playing off-Movie Week Thelma and Louise
because there’s no way anyone is meant to survive a routine that should end with the two of you driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon
and they were going to do it in half a medium-sized Ford Escort and every neon sign the graphic department had in their Americana Expansion Pack
given the themedness of the routine, there wasn’t nearly as much FAFFIN’ ABAHT as I thought there would be – I really thought she and Johannes would be doing everything in their power to do as little jiving as possible, so I have to give them kudos for at least going at it all guns blazing, even if that did mean Ellie looked a little bit out of control in the spin
very nearly decking it and sending the fear of God into Johannes
Jowita had to take Hamza’s phone away from him because he kept trying to phone Slimbridge to tell them one of their flamingos was trapped in a tumble dryer.
Most of the compliments for the performance come from the fact Ellie at least managed to look like she was enjoying the routine for the most part, but it still had a lot of the same problems as her Cha Cha Cha, which is to be expected because they had kind of just put a headscarf on that cha cha cha and called it a Jive
it’s very Wooper / Shiny Wooper coded
but it wasn’t completely bad, I thought her final set of kicks were actually quite good which might have had something to do with being relieved that it was all about to be over, I’m sure
but ahead of the final stretch of the competition you kind of have to give the judges a little more than a mere glimmer of technique, or in Motsi’s words “a taste of a jive” – a soupcon of jive, a nibble of a jive, a singular crumb of a jive, a gobbet of jive flesh – and so the judges did kind of dig in, which Ellie seemed fully prepared for
and kind of amazed that Craig didn’t sink his teeth in quite as deeply as he potentially could have
if you’re going to go out, you might as well go out screaming “IT’S NOT A 4!”.
Fleur East & Vito Coppola
Rumba / Too Lost In You – Sugababes
No Hamza, that’s not a seagull caught in the anti-bird netting, it’s just Fleur practicing her rumba.
There’s SCANDAL in the Ballroom as Self-appointed Rumba King, Carlos Gu has been deposed! With Vito getting to give us a Rumba Masterclass, which you know… might have been better to have done like 5 Rumbas ago, or at least after we’d all cleared the hurdle that was the Jurassic Park Rumba
although what I would have given to have had Jowita giving this whole Rumba 101 Class in the T-rex costumes – I feel like that routine didn’t have nearly the cultural impact we thought it was going to have, who’d have guessed the DinoRumba would be so easily forgotten?
Most of Vito’s lesson was all about the Pythagorean leg action, so if you’re behind in your geometry homework, pay attention, Professor Coppola is in session
I SAID PAY ATTENTION, YOU HORNDOGS!
I’m so glad they illustrated what a triangle is for us like a YouTube thumbnail from 2011 accusing Lady Gaga of being a member of the Illuminati, but we certainly learned a lot about triangles in this routine – isosceles, equilateral, scalene, obtuse, acute, and even the phenomenon of Triangular Collapse
it has been A WHILE since we had a rumba that was this sexy and we really needed it because the 2020 crop didn’t yield anything particularly memorable in the genre and the year before that we only got 1 Rumba from, and I’m going to give you time to think who the only person in 2020 to give us a rumba was, because it was….
yeah, for some reason HRVY No-Vowels was 2020’s designated Solo Rumbaer? Rumbarer? Rumbareer?
And despite the fact he was 21 years old and being treated like THIS for the entire series
there was not a single mention of “age appropriate storytelling” for him, I WONDER WHY, SHIRLEY? CARE TO EXPLAIN?
Back to the rumba at hand and boy were there some hands, some wildly roaming hands
it’s been a while since Vito got the opportunity to properly appreciate the majesty of a limb
I did find it odd that the judges were so middling in their comments on this routine, especially given the fact they scored her mostly 9s anyway, by all means Shirley should have been slobbering over this routine and her critique of it was quite clinical, but at least Tess was in the bisexual splash zone
and I’m not going to say that it would have been very different if Nancy and Will had done this routine and not his Mental Health Week Rumba but… I’m also not not going to say that. I don’t think it was a perfect routine by any means, there was a bit in the beginning where Fleur looked genuinely lost and like she had just noticed something shiny in the corner of the room
and the less said about the moment Vito just leaves her in the middle of the floor in the most undignified semi-squat the better
I think their scores were fair but response to a pretty good performance was a little subdued, and I would say the same for Molly – the two are just doomed to battle one another for a place in the final, I’m sure it’s probably prophesised in one of the ancient manuscripts of Tibet’s Sakya Monastery.
Hamza Yassin & Jowita Przystal
Argentine Tango / Libertango – Bond
Well it was nice to see what Hamza could do with a Tango that’s not trussed up in a theme as weird as The Slow Ravaging Horror of Time and enough brocade to put the entire Palace of Versailles to shame
Halloween Week this year was at least 40% to blame for my complete mental breakdown that week. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the mental health week rumba.
According to Hamza’s VT the big thing he had to overcome this week was a balletic spin because when he does a spin, he does it like a bored 5 year old
given how big a deal they made of this move, I thought it would be a bigger part of the routine and then it just felt a little bit insignificant in amongst everything else
which is kind of a problem you run into with male celebrities doing Argentine Tangos – I call it The Warhorse Problem, because usually it’s the male partner doing the lifting and your job is to make it look as effortless as possible and usually in an Argentine Tango, they’re in a plain black suit which kind of blends in with the background – if you’ve seen the Warhorse stage show you know where I’m going with this – so all the focus goes on the shapes the lifted, usually female, partner is doing
and in Warhorse, Joey the titular Warhorse is a puppet operated by by puppeteers specifically designed to blend into the background so your attention is focused only on the giant mechanical horse
and so what’s going to make the male partner memorable in a routine like this is either doing something of immense physical prowess or how much emotional chemistry they manage to bring and I’m not sure Hamza brought the necessary sexual tension, which is difficult to do but it’s pretty damning when you finish your Argentine Tango and nobody is having to spray Tess with the spritz bottle and generally has a bigger reaction to Shirley and Motsi doing their little passionate showdown
I am once again shocked that they’ve not sent a single person to an acting coach, instead they seem to have just made Helen Skelton watch Legally Blonde with her eyes pried open like the scene from A Clockwork Orange.
BUT! Hamza is a good partner, as Shirley pointed out in the most patronising way she possibly could – I appreciate them giving the pros shout outs for how good they are but something about making Jowita step forward for her own little critique was weird and I did not enjoy it. But Jowita’s feet were good and I particularly enjoyed her just elegantly skating along while Hamza scuttled backwards like a seagull nabbing a bag of crisps from a shop
I have called Jowita both a giant mechanical horse and a packet of crisps (starring Will Mellor!) in this recap – but she’s a fancy packet of crisps, she’s a packet of Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Kettle Chips, I mean Hamza whipped her about as effortlessly as a packet of them
but while Motsi and Shirley were eager to slather praise all over them, Anton had other plans! Launching himself into a classic Old Uncle Anton diatribe about how good Hamza’s top half was, while Jowita just watched on looking ready to gut him like a fish, knowing there was about to be a bait and switch
and sure enough, he declared Hamza’s bottom half a mess, likening it to “playing for Bradford City” which is weird both because Bradford City is his go-to footballing reference and it’s just a bad way to critique someone, it works when you’re doing it to a duffer like Tony who is kind of in on the joke, but it doesn’t land quite so well when you’re doing it to fan favourite Hamza who has the disposition of a baby tapir that’s lost its mother.
I do however, somewhat agree with Anton because there were some leg movements that were just a little bit too blunt and wobbly
but you know… just say that? We don’t need everything to be A Bit.
Helen Skelton & Gorka Marquez
Samba / Eso Beso – Emma Bunton
So this is imaginably the closest they’ll get to directly addressing Helen’s personal life and all the drama that entails, with Helen talking about how after her Blackpool Quickstep, her dad said it’s the most Helen she’s been in a long time, and so I have to applaud Helen for managing to stand strong in the face of the show daring her to do a Couple’s Choice. They have absolutely slipped an envelope reading “Couple’s Choice – Bust Your Windows by Jazmine Sullivan” across the table just as something to consider… They have half a Ford Escort for her to absolutely balmy on if she wants to.
Instead it’s straight onto a joyously campy samba as Helen checks into the Hotel del Gorka
the whole thing felt like a 90s RomCom, you know the ones that would randomly and for no real good reason have a dance scene in the middle, Jennifer Lopez has been trying to bring them back for a while now, seemingly insisting every role comes with the opportunity to do at least some of a spur of the moment tango
Helen was much less Jennifer Lopez and more one part Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde
one part Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne Blake in The Scooby-Doo: The Movie (2000)
and throw a little Tess Daly in there for good measure
so while it might not have been technically the best dance, I did have a lot of fun with Helen (and Gorka) camping it up something fierce
she did kind of lose focus the further into the dance they got and the mists of panic began to fog up her senses but she had the forethought to only internally scream when looking away from the judges
which is probably why Gorka choreographed the lobby trolley reprieve in towards the end of it
it’s the dance equivalent of playing a Block card in Uno, but does come with the consequence of being ammunition for Craig to say “the trolley had more body movement” which was maybe a little harsh, and Tess would agree given how passionately she screamed “NO!” at Craig when he said it
we all thought she’d imprint on Molly, little did we know Tess was going to go full mother bear for Helen Skelton all along.
Then Shirley mostly just complimented Gorka’s butt
and I know we should say stop treating the man like a piece of meat, but the judging table was equal opportunitying the objectification because Anton kept shimmying at Helen and saying how much he enjoyed it
and that’s why Helen hates doing Latin.
|1st||A Better Charleston Than Anything In The Pro Challenge||38|
|2nd||A Seagull and a Horse (Complimentary)||37|
|3rd||Public Pool Tango||35|
|=||The Return of The Sexy Rumba||35|
|5th||Helen’s Got Her Groove Back||29|
|6th||Ellie and Johannes Go Splat||25|
and I’ll see you in the Result’s Show tomorrow!
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