Let’s Dance for Sport Relief, Feb 20th

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Rob Webb’s Flashdance last year was awesome and one to remember, what have we got to look forward to this year?

Episode 1 of 4, available until 7:44pm Saturday 27th February 2010

Rufus Hound
Up first, Rufus Hound – Cheryl Cole’s “Fight for this love”

Interesting outfit from Rufus there, but not bad movement being shown by Rufus, though I’m just waiting for a little bit of comedy to be thrown in…oh wait there it is!

An entertaining performance and I think Rufus is showing good promise, though simple moves can be made to look very good when there’s 30 people up there with you at the same time.

Iwan Thomas
‘The Olympians'(Mark Foster, Iwan Thomas, Leon Taylor, Dalton Grant, Heather Fell and Jamie Baulch) – Madonna “Vogue”

Weird, having just watched Mark Foster in Dancing on Wheels, to flip to the next recorded program and see him in Let’s Dance – he’s obviously been bitten by the dancing bug!

I wonder who’s playing Madonna’s role, obviously it’s the girl of the group, who also appears to be the only one lacking in personality in this performance.

There’s going to be some interesting potential with this group though, given their athletic abilities. Shame about the fall at the end!

Heather shows more personality during Frank’s comments than throughout the whole dance.

Katy Brand
Katy Brand – Beyonce “Single Ladies”

I better pay attention to this as I’ve got a wedding group looking to perform this this year!

Not a bad mover there Katy, and again you can tell comedy is her forte!

A good performance that encapsulated the dance and represented the original routine accurately, i’ll definitely be referring back to this one later in the year.

Dennis Taylor
Snooker vs Darts (Dennis Taylor, Willie Thorne, Bobby ‘Bobby Dazzler’ George, Tony O’Shea) – Run DMC vs Aerosmith “Walk this way”

Now this could be good…or a train wreck…!

Unfortunately it does look a little bit like dad’s dancing at a wedding, I’m guessing they didn’t choose this dance themselves.

Shame Bobby ‘Bobby Dazzler’ George keeps on going out of sync with everyone else, and then Dennis Taylor falls over at the end and knocks him down – to top things off!

The first candidates to go home, if the quality of dancing is the basis for the judging.

Ellie Crisell
The Newsreaders (Matt Barbett, Louise Minchin and Ellie Crisell) – “Kiss of Fire” Tango

A little out of time with each other at the start, and Matt really needs to keep his shoulders down.

Poor Louise being thrown around, I’m suprised no-one’s fallen over and an uncomfortable looking ending.

Is Ellie’s skirt supposed to be higher at the back, or has it been turned round accidently?

Charles Dale
Casualty (Charles Dale [who plays Big Mac], Tony Marshall [receptionist Noel Garcia], Ben Turner [Jay Faldren]) and Holby (Rosie Marcel [who plays Jac Naylor] and Luke Roberts [Joseph Byrne]) – Slumdog Millionaire “Jai Ho”

A couple of them need to work on their hand shaping, but some quite good performers in there, especially Ben Turner.

Not a bad performance though and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Overview

I think the bottom two (if indeed it comes down to a bottom two – I have to admit I don’t actually know yet!) will be The Newsreaders, and Snooker vs Darts.

Ah, I see, only two going through from each week (which would make sense, two each week for 3 weeks then a 6 group final in week 4!)

In which case I think those going through will be Rufus Hound and Katy Brand – comedy does normally make these performances more entertaining to those at home – and they both did really great performances.

Dance-off and Result

Out then (in no particular order):

The Newsreaders
The Olympians
Snooker vs Darts

The act with the highest votes, and therefore automatically though, is Rufus Hound.

Rufus as Cheryl

That leaves the final act down to judge votes:

Frank Skinner – Katy Brand
Jason Manford – Caualty & Holby
Kimberley Walsh – Katy Brand

So Katy Brand joins Rufus in the final, as predicted!

Did you enjoy the show?

Dancing on Wheels – Show 2

dancing on wheels

See the show, available until 9.59pm on Thursday 25th March 2010.

So this week the competitors are either performing a Foxtrot (my personal favourite) or a Rumba.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the Foxtrot, I think any of the ‘floaty’ ballroom dances will really suit a wheeled competitor.

Up first, Diana Morgan-Hill & Mark Foster – Foxtrot

I’d like to see maybe a little more contrast in the speeds, and Diana needs to ensure her arms are shaped and ‘finished’ when she’s apart from Mark.

Some very nice and well time maneuvers and I think a really good use of the chair in that dance. I think they’ll be easily safe this week.

Paul Jacob & Heather Small – Rumba

Heather really struggled to stay in time last week, I think if she doesn’t manage it this week they could well be going home.

I don’t like their arm movements, they always look uncomfortable, and Heather needs to count in her head rather than evidently.

A nice ending but I didn’t really think most of the dance was that good i’m afraid and early contenders for the dance-off.

Simone Milani & Kevin Sacre – Rumba

The best performance last week, I want to see how Simone copes without being in hold for the majority of the routine.

Kevin doesn’t look as comfortable with the Latin as he did with the Tango last week, and Simone’s hands are actually better than Kevin’s.

Nowhere near as good as their routine last week but still a much better performance than Paul & Heather.

Harry Maule & Michelle Gayle – Rumba

Not a particularly good performance last week, I hope they do better this week.

Some nice moves at the start, it’s just such a shame that Harry can’t sit up straighter in his chair (something that Ade suggested last week shouldn’t be as much of a problem as Harry appears to make it).

A nice performance but still could do with improvement.

I can’t imagine how hard it is for Harry to stay in time with those shakes going on!

James O’Shea & Caroline Flack – Foxtrot

So Caroline almost didn’t show, due to sickness – which would have seen them ejected from the competition and everyone else given a bye – but finally she did show up and let’s hope they do the dance justice.

Ballroom must be an interesting challenge for the man, normally required to lead, when you can’t really get the purchase in the floor to guide your partner.

A good performance and flowed well, though it looked like Caroline had a little slip up in the middle, but probably the best performance of the night.

Overview

I think the bottom two will be Paul & Heather and Harry & Michelle. This’ll be a close one but I think Heather’s timing issue, two weeks in a row, will be a major downfall for them if she mucks up in the dance-off.

It’s interesting to see the interaction between the three judges, considering that two of them are married, but there does seem to be independant opinions being shown.

Dance-off and Result

Bottom two as predicted then, everything on this performance for both of them.

I’m stil not impressed with Heather’s use of her body, it still looks really forced, and she’s unfortunately gone completely out of time again. That I think will see them going home.

Michelle could dance a little softer but it does look like Harry has heeded Ade’s request to stand up better. Michelle does look very uncomfortable and forced in quite a few of the movements though.

Voting then:

James – Harry & Michelle
Ola – Harry & Michelle
Ade – Harry & Michelle

Unanimously then Paul & Heather are sent home 3-0, not a suprise I’m afraid as I do think they were the weakest couple left. Harry & Michelle do need to up their game though if they want any chance of staying in next week.

What do you think of how the show’s developing, and this week’s result?

Let’s Dance for Sport Relief starts Saturday

Claudia & Steve

The BBC has announced the first celebrity names lining up to trip the light fantastic for this year’s Let’s Dance For Sport Relief.

Katy Brand, Rufus Hound and Shappi Khorsandi represent the world of comedy, alongside some of the nations favourite Grumpy Old Women, Jenny Eclair, Linda Robson, Lesley Joseph and Susie Blake.

Also taking to the dance floor will be sporting greats such as footballers Peter Shilton and Rodney Marsh and snooker legends Willie Thorne and Dennis Taylor.

This year’s contestants will be judged by an all-new and exciting panel that sees the judging line-up change for all four shows. The panel of three will predominantly feature faces from the world of comedy and celebrities who performed last year.

Together the viewers and the panel will vote for their favourite dancers to go through to the final.

Comedians confirmed so far are Jack Dee and Frank Skinner.

Claudia Winkleman and Steve Jones return to host the show which kicks off Saturday 20 February 2010 on BBC One.

The series will run over four weeks, comprising three heats and culminating in a spectacular final dance-off on Saturday 13 March.

The show will see some of the nation’s favourite celebrities pay homage to iconic dance routines in a bid to wow viewers with their moves and a chance to be crowned champion of the dance floor.

Each week a celebrity act (a mix of solo dancers, duos and groups) will perform a number of famous dances such as Single Ladies (Beyonce), Greased Lightning (Grease), Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson), Bad Guys (Bugsy Malone) and Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire).

They will work with a team of top choreographers to master the dance moves and with a team of stylists to represent their dance icon’s look.

Will they rise to the Sport Relief challenge when they take to the floor and give the performance of their lives in front of a live studio audience and the panel?

Who goes through and who gets a chance to compete in the final will be down to the public and the panel.

The final will see six celebrity acts dance with the hope of being crowned the Let’s Dance For Sport Relief Champion on Saturday 13 March.

Proceeds from the voting will go to Sport Relief.

Comedian Robert Webb was crowned champion last year after he wowed the public and judges in the grand final with a spectacular dance routine to Flashdance: What A Feeling.

Looks like I’ve picked the right line of work!

Want to know what career you’re best suited for? I completed this test and got the following results:

You would most enjoy a career that allows you to meet new people [check]. You would also be happiest in a career that allows you to be free and flexible [check], and allows you to be extremely creative [another check]. Some careers that would be perfect for you are:

* Stockbroker
* Secretary
* Receptionist
* Director
* Recruitment Consultant
* Politician
* Marketing
* Human Resources Manager
* Religious Minister
* Teacher
* Lawyer
* Advertising
* Consultant
* Financial Adviser
* Financial Planner
* GP
* Physical Therapy
* Occupational Therapy
* Public Relations
* Estate Agent
* Travel Agent
* Restauranteur
* Hotel Manager
* Events Organiser

You are a great leader. You genuinely enjoy being around other people. Your relationships with others are very important to you. You love talking and meeting new people. You are very enthusiastic about work and about all that you do and have in your life. You love being the focus of attention. You enjoy a fast pace. You are very socially oriented. Therefore, you are much happier being with others than you are alone. You crave interaction with others.

You are very spontaneous and often act before you think. You are always quick to answer when you are asked a question, even if you aren’t sure of the answer. It is easier for you to improvise as you go along. You enjoy thinking out loud, and are most creative when brainstorming with friends or colleagues. You enjoy being involved in many activities.

You are very easy to read, and often wear your heart on your sleeve. You are never afraid to tell people what you think. You are very empathetic and genuine. You can sometimes be seen as over-emotional or too involved by others. But that is only because you tend to get so involved in the things you do that they become personal. You want to be adored, loved and appreciated. You like to please others and to make sure people are happy.

You trust your gut instincts. You are easily inspired and trust that inspiration. You are very innovative. You analyse things by looking at the big picture. You are concerned about how what you do affects others. You worry about your actions and the future. You tend to use a lot of metaphors and are very descriptive and colourful in your choice of language.

You are very creative, and get bored easily if you don’t get to express yourself. You like to learn new things. You don’t like the same old routine. You like to leave your options open.

Well they seem to have me down to a ‘T’ on most things (got bored of [check]ing all the points I agreed with! What about you, are you doing something you love for a living?

Show No.1


iPlayer repeat
available until 9.59pm on Thursday 25th March 2010.

I know 9pm is the ‘Watershed’ for programming in the UK but I still think they should have bleeped or edited the majority of the swearing from this program. The day after the show first aired I mentioned it to one of my students and he complained how he’d been watching it with his 11yr old daughter, expecting a Strictly-esque show, to be confronted by a barrage of expletives that forced him to quickly change channel.

But I’m not here to discuss the broadcasting decisions, just the dancing, so let’s begin!

The premise of the show is based around the fact that the UK has never really taken wheelchair dancing as seriously as some of the other major nations, and therefore has never had an entrant in the Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships. This show hopes to change that by pitting 6 couples (one able-bodied and one wheelchair-bound) against each other over the series to determine who should represent the UK in the Championships.

Brian Fortuna is the main face of the show and I didn’t feel he came across in the best light in many places, not sure if you’ll agree but I thought he seemed a bit of a shit for the vast majority of the program and didn’t seem to care about the feelings/opinions of the contestants. Granted I can understand the pressure of trying to train a number of couples to have individual routines in a short space of time – I’ve done it myself and it is stressful – and there are times when you just want to say to someone “get on with it and do what you’re told” but then sometimes they’re feedback can inspire the creative process outside of what you might original envisage.

Rant over though and on to the actual dancing itself.

Before I start I think it’s important to understand what could be expected of routines in this genre, and so I did some Youtube research and was really impressed with some of the possibilities:

However I don’t expect anyone to come out of the blocks dancing like that just yet, but I would like to see the potential there from them.

Up first, James O’Shea & Caroline Flack – Cha Cha Cha

So James and Brian had the biggest swearing exchange broadcast, all regarding the lack of innovation and challenge in the routine, but did James have a point or was he just disrespecting Brian’s expertise?

Not so sure on the choice of beard design, and just like Strictly I wish we could see more of the dance and less fancy camera angles and switching back to the ‘green room’.

I’m trying to decide how I feel about this, I would’ve liked to have seen what James’ input into the routine could have produced – given his dance abilities shown in the intro video. For me the whole routine seemed to lack a bit of content but that could be down to the fact that the celebs are also learning at the same time – I’d have liked to have seen the Pro’s partnering the wheelchair users.

Overall though not a bad performance, how it’ll compare to the rest remains to be seen.

Carolyne Underwood & Martin Offiah – Tango

Possibly the competitor with the hardest job, due to being paralysed from the chest down, Carolyne has had to be literally strapped to the chair to help her to generate upper body strength to maintain her frame.

How it’ll affect the dance remains to be seen.

A promising start, if a little lacking in staccato movements but I did find the routine a little boring and falling short in content.

Harry Maule & Michelle Gayle – Cha Cha

Always humorous when you can see someone looking scared and counting as if their life depended on it. Harry could sit up a little straighter in his chair and I’d have liked to have seen a bit of body movement in the initial clapping.

Michelle needs to be a bit tighter with her footwork, and try to skip less.

Harry needs to smile more and could have been a bit quicker in places, especially the New Yorks.

Diana Morgan-Hill & Mark Foster – Tango

Let’s hope Diana’s chair doesn’t come apart in the performance like it did in training, though they would be given the opportunity to either restart or be marked up to that point if it did happen.

Interesting that Brian has picked the same track that he and Ali used in Strictly.

Nice dramatism to start and good use of the wheelchair when Mark kicks it round on the spot. There is no comparison in this routine to the one produced by Carolyne and Martin unfortunately.

A very good routine and showing promise of what a wheelchair user can actually accomplish on the dance floor. So far vastly superior to any other performance.

Paul Jacob & Heather Small – Cha Cha

Brian had these two perform in a London train station to try and get over Heather’s nerves, but i’m hoping the performance has improved since then as it wasn’t the best.

Unfortunately Heather seems to have gone out of time with the music, and seems to be forcing her hips rather than letting them flow through the feet.

Paul seemed a little uncomfortable and didn’t really show any personality or style in his performance.

Simone Milani & Kevin Sacre – Tango

Although Kevin hasn’t been on Strictly he is engaged to last year’s winner Camilla Dallerup, so i’m guessing he probably has been near a dance floor with her in their time together.

Straight away that’s very definitely evident – Kevin’s a surprisingly good dancer and they’re definitely making a better use of the wheelchair than the majority of the other competitors. This does lead me to wish that they had paired them with real professionals though.

Ultimately the best dance of the night and strong contenders to win the whole competition, though it’ll be interesting to see how Simone copes when she has to dance Latin on her own.

Overview

For me the bottom two this week would have to be Paul & Heather and Carolyne & Martin. Out of those two I think Paul & Heather possibly have more potential.

Interesting to hear the comments from Ade Adepitan regarding Carolyne’s control of the wheelchair as this is something that I, as an able-bodied person, wouldn’t have understood.

Dance-off and Result

Watching Carolyne & Martin’s performance second time around, it still lacks dynamism for me but you can see that Carolyn is definitely controlling the movement of the chair.

Good to see Heather managing to stay in time this time round and I think they gave the better performance and so will still stay in.

Voting then:

Ade – Paul & Heather
Ola – Carolyne & Martin
James – Paul & Heather

So 2-1 sends Carolyne & Martin home and breaks their pact of ‘not going home in the first week’.

Has anyone else been watching the show, what do you think? Is it a good advertisement for wheelchair dancing and is there anything you’d change about the program?

Let us know on the comments link below.

Background, rules and judging criteria

History of Wheelchair Ballroom Dancing

The art of wheelchair dancing was born in the UK in the late 60s. A rehabilitation centre in Scotland was teaching people how to operate and manoeuvre their new wheelchairs and it soon became evident that the movements could be done to music.

Read More

Rules

Dancing on Wheels features six couples competing against one another for a place at the Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships.

Read More

Judging Criteria

The judging of a couple begins from the moment the couple enter the dance floor and ends only when the music stops. The judging criteria consist of the following principles: harmony; music; movement; choreography, presentation and charisma.

Read More

Dancing on Wheels…the competitors

Britain has yet to compete at the international stage with wheelchair dancing and so the show aims to train a celeb and a wheelchair user to take part in the current world championship.

So the six couples (one celeb and one wheelchair user) are the following:

James & Caroline

James O’Shea & Caroline Flack

Harry & Michelle

Harry Maule & Michelle Gayle

Paul & Heather

Paul Jacob & Heather Small

Diana & Mark

Diana Morgan-Hill & Mark Foster

Carolyne & Martin

Carolyne Underwood & Martin Offiah

Simone & Kevin

Simone Milani & Kevin Sacre

All the celebs have either appeared in Strictly, or have dance training in their background so I’m interested in seeing how this develops.