Strictly Come Dancing Training Clips – Wk 3

So Strictly Come Dancing is less than a week away from starting, the spray-tanners are spraying, the dress makers are sewing and the celebrities are shaving; and we’re being treated to our last few training videos.

Up first is boyhood favourite Felicity Kendal & Vincent Simone.  I read a great blog post about calculating your Ballroom or Latin quotient and apparently Felicity Kendal is a borderline case, so should in theory cope quite comfortably with both disciplines.  Let’s see how the training is coming along…

Dancing on heels really does make a huge difference to your dancing.  Latin American dances should be danced with the weight fully over the balls of the feet – the heels lightly touching the floor – and higher heels push your weight forward.  This then allows for easier hip action and even guys wear 1 1/2 inch Cuban heels (as opposed to the Ballroom 1 inch).

For someone who isn’t used to dancing in heels this can take quite a bit of adjustment.  I must admit that I’ve never tried anything higher than the Cuban heel, but if a student ever ordered a pair of ladies shoes in size 10 I’d be tempted to try them on.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a cross-dressing fantasy or anything, but how can you truly teach someone else about the importance of high heels, and also understand a students limitations, if you don’t know how it feels yourself?

Anyway I digress, Felicity has a Cha Cha Cha as her first dance, and I think she has the personality to produce a fun and cheeky performance.  However it does look like she is struggling with those heels and I’m sure she could have had slightly lower ones – they look nearer to 3 1/2 inch to me when I’m sure 2 1/2 inch would have been a good starting point!

Standing still Felicity excudes a very naughty sexy side (I’m thinking 48ish seconds in!) but she needs to be able to do that whilst moving too, which seems to be an issue right now.  Her shoulders are too high during the natural top but I actually think Vincent could hold her a little lower and that would help.

I still have high hopes for Felicity but there is quite a bit of work still required I’d say.

Training clip number 2 this week is Kara Tointon & Artem Chigvintsev.  Kara was restricted from training in week 1 to make up for the 20-odd hours of training she received taking party in Strictly for Sport Relief, will be interesting to see how that’s affected things.

So, one of the ‘hot young girls’ paired with one of the new ‘hot young professionals’, can’t imagine what the Strictly producers were thinking when they came up with that one?!

From the launch show I felt Artem was the strongest of the new professionals, and looked more at home than either Jared or Robin and the training video doesn’t disappoint.

Kara is looking like she’s picking up the steps quickly and does appear to have a good natural balance during those spins.  I wish I could see more of her dancing as it’s difficult to see how well her hips are moving during the lock steps, obviously the body roll seems to work well.  She probably should have her arm up, rather than down, during the locks away from him…but I’m sure it’s not polished yet.

Our third video of the week is Peter Shilton & Erin Boag.  Peter is Erin’s second goalkeeper celebrity and whilst Peter Schmeichel didn’t exactly trip the light fantastic, Erin did wonders considering the starting material.

Peter is definitely going to excel more at Ballroom than Latin American I’ll wager.  He does need to work on keeping his shoulders down and level, especially in promenade position (when the guy opens his left side and the girl the right side so that they are both looking in the same direction – see 25secs in).  I also think more work is required in softening his rise and fall action.

I don’t think Peter will do too bad a performance on Friday, but I also don’t think he’ll stay long in the competition on current evidence.

Our final couple is Tina O’Brien & Jared Murillo.  Jared didn’t impress me much in the launch show so I’m hoping to see a bit more potential in the training videos.

Not looking too bad as a starting point, though Tina does need to keep her toes in contact with the floor during her back locks and should concentrate on more separation between her top half and bottom half of her body.

Still there is some potential there so will be interesting to see how she performs this weekend.

Strictly Come Dancing is back with a vengeance on Friday 1st October, hope you’re looking forward to it?!

Strictly Come Dancing Training Clips – Wk 2 (part 2)

So the BBC decide to be cheeky and release another training video from Strictly Come Dancing just as I’m posting my final revision to the week 2 summary.  Thought I may as well start a new post for it.

Our surprise extra training video for week 2 is courtesy of Jimi Mistry & Flavia Cacace.  I’ve heard tell in the twittersphere that Jimi is a rumoured dark horse for the competition, let’s see how the training is coming along.

Wow, Jimi has certainly got a terrific start with that hip action.  His Cha Cha Cha is definitely looking one of (if not the) most polished of the initial dances.  My only gripe is with his hand/arms out of hold.  They’re a little too straight and rigid for my liking, he needs a bit more rotation from the shoulder and a bit of shaping in the fingers.  As I always say to my students though, if I’m being picky about little things then you’re already doing it really well.

However Flavia has choreographed what looks like an amazing routine for their first dance and I’m really excited to see their performance.  Out of all the videos so far Jimi has just jumped straight to the top of my ‘must keep an eye on’ list!

Strictly Come Dancing Training Clips – Wk 2

It’s the end of week 2 of training and all Strictly Come Dancing training clips have been released by the BBC.  The first clip of the week goes to Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas, Gavin didn’t impress me much in the launch show, I’m hoping Katya will have worked some magic though.

Lucky he’s been given the Waltz rather than the Cha Cha Cha for the first show, it might actually give him the opportunity to stay longer as I think Cha Cha would have been a disaster.

Has the potential to do an acceptable Waltz though based on current footage.

Day 2 and the next training video is of Patsy Kensit & Robin Windsor
Robin is one of the new boys on the block and so one wonders if he can hit the ground running with the training.

It might be a Strictly cliche but it is easier for the girl to dance with a pro male than the other way around, and Patsy is looking really good in this initial footage.  Needs to relax more in her pivot turns and watch her shoulders.

A very promising start though and I’m looking forward to seeing their performance on the night.

No training video update on Wednesday so it comes to Thursday and Pamela Stephenson & James Jordan.  I thought Pamela performed very confidently in the launch show group dance and showed a lot of promise, but how is her training coming along?

Pamela is definitely not disappointing me, in the training video she looks graceful and elegant and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished article.

Our final couple this week are Ann Widdecombe & Anton Du Beke. A pairing I’m sure many of Anton’s fans would have been dreading (no offence intended Ann!), but one that seemed concrete as soon as the line-up was announced.

Anton definitely has one of the most challenging partnerships of the new series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2010, especially with the height difference, but I’m sure his popularity will see them whisk [see what I did there 🙂] through the first few weeks.

Unfortunately for Ann she does look a little bit jerky at the moment, but there is some hope there, especially with her rise and fall.  I’m thinking Anton’s glad they didn’t get given the Cha Cha Cha for their first week.  Ann won’t be the worst celebrity in the first show but I think she’ll probably be mid-table to bottom.

So we’ve seen most of our couples so far.  Still left are:

  • Felicity Kendal & Vincent Simone
  • Kara Tointon & Artem Chigvintsev (purportedly prevented from training in the first week to make up for the fact she had dance training for Strictly Sports Relief)
  • Jimi Mistry & Flavia Cacace
  • Peter Shilton & Erin Boag
  • Tina O’Brien & Jared Murillo

Check back next week when I should have the next load of training videos for you to sift through.  Oh and don’t forget to set you VCR/PVR’s for the start of Strictly Come Dancing 2010, BBC 1, on Friday 1st October and Saturday 2nd October!

New format planned for Strictly Christmas Special this year

So you’re a Strictly Come Dancing producer and you want the really big names for your show, but let’s be honest how many of us could honestly just drop everything and commit up to 3 months of our lives to a dance show?  Well actually I would, it is Strictly after all, but that’s beside the point!

It seems this year that the BBC have decided on a way around this predicament, according to there are plans to have a ‘Mini-Tournament’ for the Christmas Special.  Rather than celebs working and performing for months they are planning on offering 2 weeks of intensive training culminating in a final competition to be aired on Christmas Day.

The BBC feels this will give those celebrities who can’t commit to the full schedule a chance to experience Strictly in a more condensed manner.  Apparently some of the names thought to be featuring could include

Sharon Osbourne, Fern Britton, Peter Andre and Gary Lineker.

It’s an interesting idea but that’s putting a lot of pressure on both the celebs and the professionals.  Training a complete beginner up to Strictly performance standard in 2 weeks is going to be intense and I would be worried about whether this could do more harm than good to the Strictly ‘brand’.  But then I was a little disappointed with last year’s Christmas Special so an injection of new ideas could well be what it needs.

Time will tell whether this works or not.

Dance on Broadway Wii review

So this is my first ever attempt at a game review, I don’t even know where to start. I suppose first of all I should thank Ubisoft for sending me Dance on Broadway to review.

Not having played a dance game on the Wii before I thought I best play through the tutorial first. Looks like it’s a similar concept to Guitar Hero (performing the required action at the specific time) and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works in practice.

The tutorial is just a quick explanation of the controls and onscreen notifications, would possibly have been nice to have a brief trial go, but no looks like I’ll have to go into the main game and give it a go.

The songs/dances included in the game (not sure if that’s in entirety or whether there are any unlockable ones yet) are:

All That Jazz – Chicago
Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In – Hair
Bend And Snap – Legally Blonde
Cabaret – Cabaret
Dreamgirls – Dreamgirls
Fame – Fame: The Musical
Good Morning, Baltimore – Hairspray
I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – Lion King
Luck Be A Lady – Guys and Dolls
Little Shop Of Horrors – Little Shop Of Horrors
Lullaby of Broadway – 42nd Street
Money, Money – Cabaret
My Favourite Things – The Sound of Music
One Night Only – Dreamgirls
Roxie – Chicago
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins
Thoroughly Modern Millie – Thoroughly Modern Millie
Time Warp – Rocky Horror Picture Show
We’re In The Money – 42nd Street
You Can’t Stop The Beat – Hairspray

Hopefully I’ve got all the correct musicals but let me know if I’ve got any wrong!

Well I may as well start at the beginning with All That Jazz…first of all you’re asked to pick a character though to be honest they all look the same except for slightly different poses and colour dresses.

Suddenly it occurs to me, how can the Wii pick up both my arm movements with only one controller? Couldn’t they have utilised the nunchuk and Wii board to make it a more immersive experience?

Thirty seconds into the game and it seems pointless to do anything with my left hand or feet, though I think what the hell and try and do all the movements onscreen – much to the hilarity of my wife and sister-in-law.

However I soon get bored of trying the movements and discover that unfortunately I can play sitting down, which kind of defeats the object of the game.

I ask my wife if she wants to have a go but she doesn’t show any interest at all, not a good sign in a game that I would imagine is aimed more at the female and casual gamer.

Wanting to give it another chance I decide to try a dance I might actually know (well the only dance here that I know) and attempt the Time Warp from Rocky Horror.

And so we come to the main problem of the game. You’re not really given enough warning about the moves, and whether you should keep doing the moves in between moves, and which way you should be facing etc. I found that I would be exactly copying the moves onscreen yet constantly getting ‘X’ to indicate I had failed to do the movement.

Unfortunately this game just doesn’t excite me or make me want to play it again, and both my wife and sister-in-law said they can’t see the point of standing and ‘waving a stick around’.

Whilst I’ll find this useful for when I have to choreograph numbers from musicals, or run a hen party session, I doubt we’ll pick it up to play it again.

It’s a shame as I feel the game had a lot of potential, I know I’ll use it in the future as a reference point but I can’t see what is going to make the average gamer come back for more.

There’s definitely potential there Ubisoft but I don’t think you’ve quite hit the jackpot yet. I look forward to seeing what comes with Just Dance 2.

Strictly Come Dancing Training Clips – Wk 1

So it’s been a week since the couples were announced in the launch show and the BBC have released a few Strictly Come Dancing training videos to wet our appetites.

First up, Michelle Williams & Brendan Cole

Well they certainly look like they’re having fun and I think with a bit of hard work Michelle could produce some exciting dancing – I think Cha Cha Cha will prove to be a good first dance for them.

Next up, Goldie & Kristina Rihanoff

Didn’t really get to see any dancing in this clip, well at least not enough Cha Cha to make a judgement, but I’m concerned that Goldie doesn’t appear to be taking the initial training as seriously as he could do, but time will tell.

The next couple to have a training video released are Matt Baker & Aliona Vilani, one of my tipped celebrities based on the launch show but will I feel the same after seeing their training video?

I still think Matt shows a lot of potential, though his hands concern me a little bit – they’re not masculine enough for my liking at present, a little too bent at the wrist at the moment and I think that’s something Len will pick up on too.

All in all it’s looking pretty good so far though.

Now for some magic from Paul Daniels & Ola Jordan

Apart from being a little freaked out that Paul looks like an older version of my Uncle David, I was impressed with Ola’s methodology for teaching Paul.

Unfortunately I do think Paul has got his work cut out if he wants to survive, a Waltz would’ve been more kind as his first dance!

Our final couple’s training video this week comes from Scott Maslen & Natalie Lowe,

Natalie must be hoping to go one better this year and actually win the competition, but let’s try and get through week one first.

Scott is looking ok at the moment, though I’m not quite sure on the turn-ups! However it is definitely showing some promise.

I for one can’t wait for Strictly Come Dancing to start as I think there are definitely some interesting partnerships ready to develop. I can’t say I’ve developed a favourite yet, it really is too early in their training to call, but is there someone you’re rooting for?

Strictly Come Dancing launch show

Strictly’s back, we’re back, everyone’s back…well except for a few of our favourite professionals.
What do I think of this year’s lineup?  Quite a good lineup even if the average age is apparently now 45.  There’s a few people (as usual) that I have no idea who they are but there does appear to be more potential here.
So first partnerships are Scott Maslen and Natalie Lowe and Scott doesn’t appear to know where to put his lips.  Matt Baker is up next and is paired with Aliona Vilani (something she doesn’t look entirely ecstatic about surprisingly).  Finally Peter Shilton (I’m predicting Kristina Rihanoff), but no he get’s Erin Boag.
The transfer to ‘the tower’ seems a little bit awkward and far too staged but hey, this is Strictly after all. 
Now to meet the new professionals Robin Windsor, Artem Chigvintsev and Jared Murillo.  First impressions are Artem and Robin have good promise, though Robin looked a little shaky, however Jared looks completely out of his depth in the first dance and will certainly have to step it up if he wants to prove the producers were right to drop the established professionals.
Now our first female celeb partnerships are Michelle Williams and Brendan Cole – a very promising partnership on paper, Pamela Stephenson gets James Jordan, watching Jared in the lineup further supports my theory that he’s not at home up there but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t pair him with Tina O’Brien…not a bad guess it turns out!
So some VT showing the celebs trying their first group dance and a few potentials but not really enough shown of each celeb for me to comment on.
Our next round of partnerships; Paul Daniels and Ola Jordan; Patsy Kensit gets Robin Windsor; and Goldie is paired with Kristina Rihanoff.
Let’s see how Jared performs in the next group dance…complete with a flying Vincent and Flavia and a leaping Brendan Cole.  Someone’s definitely been working with these guys to make it more of a show than a ballroom demo and I must admit it’s not a bad choice in this instance.  Didn’t get to see much of Jared but he is starting to look more at home.
So we’re over halfway through our celeb partnerships, who’s next?
Kara Tointon proves she’s starting as a beginner when she thinks her Salsa with Mark Ramprakash is actually a Samba, so Artem has his work cut out for him! Jimi Mistry has Flavia Cacace and Gavin Henson is left with Katya Virshilas – not a bad girl to be left with.
For once I agree with Alesha…you can’t predict how all the partnerships are going to work until we see them actually dancing.
Our first look at the ‘Strictly Show Dancers’ and I’m hoping to see a reason why they’re on the show.  A good performance but I’m struggling to see what the point is when the preceding pro dance was more of a show dance.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Ian and Darren but they’ll need to step it up!
Our final two pairings are Felicity Kendal (a personal boyhood fave!) with Vincent Simone and Anne Widdecombe is ready to get her claws into Anton Du Beke (a no brainer based on his past partners).
I really can’t call this one just yet; it’d be nice to see how their training is coming along.  After seeing the group dance, Gavin and Peter have a mountain to climb, but Anne should have public support.  Felicity is looking promising as is Pamela.  Jimi will be interesting but Matt and Scott show a bit of promise.  Out of all that I’ve seen so far I’m tipping Matt, Pamela and Felicity to do well.
What did you guys think of the opening show?