Sunday, 24 October 2010

Strictly Come Dancing week 4: Tango and Charleston fun

"Welllllllllll" as David Tenant would say in "Bright Young Things" as he smoked, danced and drank his way through the film, "That was never a Charleston". It was the 1930's exploitation  show off dance of the thirties marathons, where couples danced to the death for miserly prizes, it was the Bob Fosse 1970's imagining of 1931 early Nazi Berlin, it was Chicago the stage play (choreographed in the 40's), but most of the time that was never a Charleston.

Week 5 is up and posted !    Week 6 as well And now back to this post

The Charleston was the dance of the near do well, sometimes overly privileged, bored people who wanted to break free of the bog standard stiff dances of their parents, but still wanted to look casual. It was never ever an exercise in athletics, nor did it require years of training in Cirque du Soleil to be adept at it. Anybody with enough energy and loosened inhibition could do this dance in a about 20 minutes, hence it's being described as the dance of the people. What happened to it later through the years as people modified it beyond recognition cannot be called Charleston.  Here follows a step by step guide on how to Charleston and another video of contemporary people doing the Charleston

Now if we accept as read, that the producers and choreographers at Strictly made a conscious decision to present the later dances that cover everything from Jive, Lindy hop, Broadway and Burlesque style to depression era marathon tortures, as "Charleston",  then we can at least have a proper frame of reference to judge the dancers from. Pity though these dances individually  have not been given the respect they deserve or had their story told on Strictly. Tonight's costumes and music were on the whole, spectacular and well chosen, with a few exceptions that I shall note later on. The attention to detail in the wardrobe, shows the BBC has made the extra effort to make our stars and dancers look spectacular.

I'd like to know what the BBC have done with the real Craig Revel Horwood. While I'm enjoying this nice Craig, I'm not sure I can take much more of this. He looks like he's in need of a good bleeding off of the cold and nastiessssss dahling.  Bruce was in fine form for most of the night, except for that one unfortunate joke that stopped the room cold, I suppose even a veteran has an off moment from time to time. As for our Alesha, she provided us with yet another gem from her treasure chest of bad English when she commented to Tina, "You wasn't afraid"   . In fairness to her, she at least dropped some of the more over the top, non comments and recognized some truly awful dancing and praised the two genuine Charlestons. To be fair, it's week 4 and the good dancers have achieved some real proficiency by now.  No dancer can get get by now on merely appearing to try.

So here are tonight's ratings for week 4 of Strictly Come Dancing .

Jimi Mistry: His so called Charleston started off with some nice theatrical windows that led into a decent choreographed routine straight out of a Broadway production from Ziegfeld or Busby Berkley. He upped his game and made us forget last week's less than  exciting effort. Rating 6

Scott Maslen: Came out and brought Old Europe back from the mists of time. His  Tango was lush, smooth, firm and and in control. Looking at him, you saw the tux melt away and turn into the uniform of the cocky young aristocrat with his lady. Elegant, flawless, it was the best dance of the night and the series.  Rating 9 video

Tina O'Brien: Poor Tina, she was poorly, she was out of step, she was slow, she looked like Big Bird from Sesame Street. The dance was a  rip off of the Jazz Singer that turned into bad Burlesque with mostly gymnastics and a lot of clowning.  Not her best, and the choreographer has to bear some blame for this. Rating 6

Felicity Kendal: I loved the music chosen for her, it reminded me of all the Polish society balls our family used to attend. Her Tango was near flawless, it showed passion, intimacy and natural flow. This woman can dance. Rating 8 video

Patsy Kensit: Another so called Charleston. Taken nearly step for step from Chicago, Patsy was competent but had too much clowning around and her steps were too simple, getting more heavy and sluggish as she neared the end. Her dress BTW was designed for a flat chested woman, not someone so well endowed , and that made her look fat. Rating 6

Gavin Henson: What can I say that's polite? He almost danced. He lost his step from the first note and mostly never recovered, causing him to revert to a lot of standing again. His Tango was banal , slow  and looked laboured. Appropriate choice of song I think..... Britney Spears' Toxic. Is there some kind of subliminal message here? Rating 5

Peter Shilton: Another Charleston, another disaster. Poor choice of music that did not fit the dance, causing poor Peter to loose what little control he had. This most un-Charleston of all, was a poor imitation of the great Bob Fosse's Cabaret (a 1970's re-imagining of 1931 Berlin.) Peter Shilton dropped three points here where he should have at least drawn. As for his costume, it was blackface without the blackface. Don't be surprised if he's in the drop zone. Rating 3

Pamela Stephenson: A fluid, precise, circular and clean Tango with lovely footwork. Not as good as last week. But having said that, it was still a top four finish. Rating 8

Matt Baker: Dressed in a bizarre 1910 weight lifter kit and his partner some kind of circus ballerina, produced one of the most authentic Charlestons of the night. barring the silly acrobatics from the 30's, and a few wobbles, they nailed the dance to the tune of 42nd street.  Rating 9 video

Michelle Williams: Due to the death of her partner's father, she was paired up with a new teacher who clearly was able to squeeze more out  of the frail lass than her regular partner. Her Tango had balance issues, but was a vast improvement on her previous performances. Can it be that despite a terrible song, a new partner was able to achieve more in one week than the other in 8? Rating 6

Kara Tointon: How cute, she took him home to "properly meet the rents". I tell you they are not just dancing! In the 2nd truly authentic Charleston of the evening, Kara displayed the footwork her Gran would have used back in the day. Take out the gymnastics of the last half of the dance, and that was the carefree drink, smoke, dance, Charleston. Her costume was as pointed out, a tribute to Josephine Baker who was of course Burlesque, but given the quality of her performance, I won't begrudge her the opportunity to show off her skin like that. She Blew me away. Rating 8 Video

Ann Widdicombe: Ann Ann Ann, Rightly we were told that in the history of Strictly there had been two styles of Tango, but tonight, we were going to see a third.....the Ann Widdicombe Tango! She opened the dance by coming down on wires all graceful and flying Elephant like, then landed to become the constant cardie wearing dancing Hippo from Fantasia. Bruno compared her to E.T's Mam, Craig was nearly silenced, but not for long and me? I wasn't sure what to make of it. For entertainment 20 out of 10. For dance????? Who would of thought it? A funny Tory. Rating 3 video

On the back of tonight, I'm with Brucie, Strictly alone is worth half the license fee. So how do you choose a bottom two from this? Tina O'Brien, Patsy Kensit, Gavin Henson, Peter Shilton and Ann Widdicombe. I'll take Ann Widdicombe out right away, there is no way she'll be even remotely close to danger this week, you know it, I know it. So that leaves the other four. Much as I dislike Gavin, he was less rubbish than Peter Shilton, but he's still not anywhere near as good as Tina or Patsy or as popular as they are. I'm reliably informed by my Welsh mate Grav, that Gavin has some natural enemies out there. In no particular order.... His ex wife's fans, people who've met him, Rugby supporters who are cross he ganned off to play the fame game while his team is in full season, oh and people with eyes. If he stays out of trouble it will be the hopelessly in love with him women who will do it. So that's my prediction... Peter Shilton and Gavin Henson.

Sunday results show time...... The Bottom two was 50% fair. Michelle Williams and Peter Shilton. We all know why Ann wasn't in it even thought she is to dance as Daleks are to diplomacy, but she's funny and that seems to have become the reason she will stay in. So long as there are equally rubbish dancers getting hoyed, I don't mind. However, what Gavin is doing safe is beyond me. Does Michelle deserve being in bottom two for a second week running?  I suppose on past form, but she was not by any stretch bad last night. I do wish this slavish Judge bashing from both Bruce Forsythe  and Tess Daly would stop. Her remark tonight.."It's your opinion" speaks only of her ignorance and boosts the growing validity being given for the notion that if you have the ability to breathe your opinion is as good as the next moron or expert. The judges have opinions that matter far more than anything Tess has to say, as they are experts, let's show some respect.

So in the end it's ............................Peter Shilton. No surprise, he's sunk like a stone and deserves to be going home. Nice try and thanks for the effort Peter. We will always love you for the football.

For more information you can go to the official Strictly Come Dancing 2010 site Week 5 is up and ready


Carmel said...

thanks great and accurate and ....fair commentary!

Mietek Padowicz said...

You're welcome Carmel, I won't ever pull my punches. It's important to those who are making an effort.