Saturday, 11 December 2010

Strictly Come Dancing week 11: Semi Final Part 1

Only one more week to go!!!!  How exciting is that?  Now even good but not great won't keep you in it. Part 1 of the semi finals is all about knocking the stuffing out of people and see who still has it after going through dance hell. High expectations and previous high water marks will be haunting dancers in their performances. Just what do the remaining dancers have to show they have to stay in? I would say it's growing power and the ability to maintain the high quality they had been hitting in the last few weeks. The drop zone of two is a no brainer for at least one pair, Gavin Henson will be gone by Sunday, he has improved, markedly even, but it's far too little,  much too late. I applaud his effort and the genuine ability he's showing, but, by G-d, he's only just started taking this seriously. Nice  that he's really giving it a go, I'm pleased for him, at least he'll leave the competition with a sense of accomplishment, but he is leaving. That leaves Scott, Matt and Pamela in the closest race since the top three EPL teams were separated by a point and a  few notches in goal difference.  If there was no public vote, I'd say give the trophy to Kara now, but we still need to see how it plays out, and of course she still has to dance the last dance hasn't she?   All to play for, but I don't see her losing it on skill and entertainment value.

The format for the weekend is interesting, it combines the classic stand alone dance with the new knock out Swing  a Thon designed to give the judges a tool where they can put a final stamp on the competition before the public get to vote on Saturday night. Dave Archer and the band continued as always to provide music so well done I was under the impression I was listening to the  original version of certain songs. Gypsy Dance Kings and Lady Gaga leap to mind. In a switch from my usual indifference towards Tess Daly, her dress for the Friday show was fabulous, It really complimented her shape and the combination of a proper bra and well cut dress, made her incredibly attractive as opposed to her usual pretty but dull. Who ever is dressing you Tess, keep their number, it suits you.Oh !

Without further ado, the ratings for the Friday show.

Pamela Stephenson: Paso Doble.  Nowt wrong with her with what she did. She was in the role, and attacked it brilliantly. Flowing dramatic and technically good, she showed the skill that keeps  dancer in the final. Rating 9

KaraTointon: Viennese Waltz. Impeccable and smooth, totally synchronised, she made technically difficult moves seem easy and her transitions were flawless. She is a Pro full stop, the fact she and the judges clashed on the tiniest of details regarding a lack of contact with the floor proves it. She is measured by a different scale by the judges and still excels. Rating 10 but should have been a 15

Gavin Henson: Samba.  Well done Gavin, that was really good, not great mind you, but it was dance. You did it right. Much improved, he's finally not stopping himself from dancing. Was it good enough to challenge the top 4?  No.  Still missing rhythm and flow. But he can at least now dance at any parties he's invited to. Rating 6

Scott Maslen: Argentine Tango. Nice mirroring, a few too many timid hesitations, he wasn't leading and lacked sizzle. I wasn't impressed and think it may have been his down fall. We'll see Saturday. Scott seemed tired and the unshaven look did not suit him Rating 8 

Matt Baker: Salsa.  Dressed in disco clothes Matt used his hips feet and rhythm to frankly wipe the floor with Scott. If anything was wrong it was near the end when it got a bit dull. Yes the judges were right to remark he'd overworked the dance losing it's sexiness and seduction for Tango like attack. But not the low marks given. I hope Matt shakes off the bad scores and recovers quickly, he seemed to have taken the rough ride somewhat badly, and yet in the Swing a Thon we'll a marked recovery Rating 8

And now the Swing a Thon.  Simple rules 2.5 minutes to dance, last couple dancing gets the most points. Full Bore, High Energy, Entertainment says head judge Len. Not surprisingly the result reflected what I think the result on Sunday will be.

1st gone Gavin
2nd gone Scott
3rd gone Pamela
4th gone Matt
5th and last dancing .....Kara

So some details now.  Gavin was first hoyed off the floor in a disappointingly quick time for him, his dance was dull, laboured and frankly awful. Scott then  lasted somewhat longer but as he wasn't as flash or skilled, next off.  The next three were so close you could separate them only by  minute criticism. Pamela dropped first but only because she ran out of steam, leaving Matt and Kara to fight it out for most interesting couple.

The judges looked for Stamina, Content and Timing. Gavin out for the count on the last two, Pamela out on stamina.  This bodes well for the top 4 but not for Gavin. In a head to head competition, a woman more than twice his age beat him by a country mile and the fact that Scott left before Pamela meant he wasn't frankly as good a dancer as any of the top three. I am truly excited by the impending final and the rest of the dances on Saturday's semi final part 2.

Keep an eye on the judges and the dancers, they know it's time to show who can rise above the pack and take this. I fully expect the pros to not coddle or manage their partners, now is the time to reach for the gold ring, not play it safe.  Even most of the studio audience knows it and was respectfully silent for the judges and rewarded the really good dances with standing ovations. Very possible the best ever top 4 I have ever seen since I started watching Strictly.  I sincerely hope the public rewards the best dancers, not the most popular, for the quality of dancing is just that good. With the needed tweaks to avoid the problems of this year, next series of Strictly should be even better.

Watch Friday's show here Visit the home page here

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