Strictly Come Dancing 2012 blog: Week 9

So, we’ve reached that stage of the competition. You know the one I mean; the stage where, unless you have a complete dance disaster (darling), you’re going to score more than 30 (oops, sorry Michael). The stage of the competition where everyone’s storyline on the show has been set in stone, and the judges give their scores and remarks accordingly, with little relevance to what actually happened on the dance floor.

©BBC; Image credit: BBC/Guy Levy

Well, the judges did get one thing right. After being forced to dance off for his place in the competition, Michael found himself lumbered with a Latin dance, and so unsurprisingly found himself at the bottom of the leaderboard. Bless his heart, this samba was pretty terrible; maybe marginally better than his salsa and jive, but miles behind his ballroom standard and not really up to scratch for this stage of the competition. The other person whose dancing seemed more Week 3 than Week 9 was Lisa with her quickstep, apparently inspired by Morecambe and Wise. She more ran around the floor than danced, her kicks were sloppy, and she was off time for most of it. To be honest, the only bit of the dance I enjoyed when she slid off the sofa at the end, and it turned out that wasn’t even intentional. But the judges seem scared to criticise her too much, maybe because she’s such a favourite with the public, and so they rambled on about her wonderful energy (/manic grinning) and performance levels (/manic grinning), but failed to mention her terrible technique.

After many weeks of not really getting Nicky, and thinking that his Charleston was pretty overrated last week, I have to say I thought the judges were a bit harsh on him with his Argentine Tango. Sure, it was a bit stompy at times, and it hardly had the intricate footwork that makes the Argentine Tango so great, but the intensity between him and Karen was much better than I’d expected, and he sold the dance really well. So of course the judges gave him one mark less than Lisa. Of course they did. After four weeks at the top of the leaderboard, Denise found herself on shakier ground with her salsa. Even though she recovered well from James forgetting the routine, this dance just didn’t really suit her. Denise has very long legs, and she doesn’t have enough control over them to make these fast Latin dances look really good. Not really terrible, but just not the best of her performances.

Second place this week was shared by Dani and Kimberley, who both produced lovely, if not perfect, dances. This was the fourth week in a row that Kimberley received 34 from the judges, and while I didn’t like it quite as much as her tango last week, her jive had a lot going for it. Her synchronicity with Pasha is very impressive, and she nailed the kicks and flicks that typify the best of the Strictly jives. And I absolutely loved Dani’s Viennese Waltz; sure, Vincent maybe went a touch overboard with the Venetian theme, but his choreography was so inventive and fun that I didn’t really mind. Dani coped with the difficult choreography brilliantly, and I really enjoyed watching this. I just wish they would stop trying to convince us that Dani is a “dark horse” (this was her fourth week in a row to be second) and drop all the “oh, aren’t you so small, you little smurf” nonsense. Look, unless you’re going to commit and actually dance one week actually painted blue, stop invoking the smurfs.

Louis danced the Charleston this week, and in one of the most obviously scripted moments in Strictly history (he even had a lesson with a classic Arlene Philips-style Acting Coach), he had his BIG PERSONALITY BREAK-THROUGH. In reality, though, he mostly just smiled more than he had before, and faffed around a bit, but the judges spoke about it like he was the second coming of Chris Hollins, and the collective ovaries of the studio audience practically broke the studio floor with their excitement over his scores. He’s going to win, isn’t he?

In the end, the most inevitable result since that time that Johnny Ball went out first (was that this year? It feels like a lifetime ago), Michael faced off against Nicky in the dance off, and Michael lost. He’s had a good run, and Natalie has worked absolute miracles with him, but it was his time to go, and go he went.

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