Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas – Samba

The weakest of the contenders still left in the competition Gavin is most likely going home this weekend, especially if he has Samba…but we’ll see.

Gavin certainly trying with his hips but the whole routine looks a little manic, and if Craig penalised Kara & Artem for their slight over-extension to lift status Gavin is going to get pounded.

Still the weakest for me, always improving but still a 7.

Craig: 6 “You did lack rhythm, flow, arms were very very sloppy…good thing is the rotation in the hips was well worth the 297.5 hours you’ve been rehearsing this series”
Len: 7 “We’ve just seen Kara do a dance that really really suits her, and you’ve had to come out and do a Samba”
Alisha: 7 “I think you’re strongest in ballroom…you are the most improved”
Bruno: 7 “You certainly looked the part…performance wise you actually have improved…but rhythm & timing”

Total Score: 27

Strictly Come Dancing – Saturday 4th December Leader Board

1. 40 points – Pamela & James
2. 38 points – Kara & Artem
3. 35 points – Scott & Natalie
3. 35 points – Matt & Aliona
5. 33 points – Gavin & Katya
6. 14 points – Ann & Anton

I’m glad that Pamela Stephenson was the first person to get four 10’s, with that performance, as it’s the first dance to deserve it this series.

I think Gavin has over marked but still ended up in the right place on the board.

I have to say that Gavin will be in the bottom two, and probably be going home, though I do hope Ann joins him as none of these other dancers deserve to go.  I am concerned that Matt might be in trouble though.

Who would you send home?

Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas – Foxtrot

I’m not expecting a great dance here, I’ll be honest.

Gavin needs to be softer in his rise and fall, it looks clunky rather than gliding across the floor.  Also the personality we saw last week has completely disappeared, aside from the odd rye smile.

Nowhere near as bad as the Jive last week but not higher than a 7 for me.

Craig: 7
Len: 9 “I don’t want you to kiss me, but that was your best dance well done”
Alisha: 9 “Back what you do best…looking more and more like a dancer”
Bruno: 8 “Put a lot of work in to it and it shows”

Total Score: 33

I’m sorry but that routine was nowhere near a 9 for me.

Strictly Come Dancing – Saturday 27th November

Almost up-to-date and it’s almost time for tonight’s Strictly, seriously where has my Saturday gone?!

Not sure on Bruce’s joke about Alisha having a good tan..

First up tonight is Kara Tointon & Artem Chigvintsev,

I’m looking forward to seeing their Jive.

Artem’s having a few wardrobe issues with his braces and Kara needs to point her toes down more during kicks.

It seems a little lacklustre and lacking something, and their ending seems to be just a little too late.

Disappointing we feel and whilst the lines were clean and movement good I can only give it an 8.

Craig: 7 “Dance very cleanly…attention to detail as always very precise…lost synchronicity…recovery [at the end] was terrible”
Len: 9 “First out, first class, top draw Jive…little bit hesitant…didn’t really attack [on some steps]”
Alisha: 9 “You two are on a real journey…really cutesy feel…looking down a lot”
Bruno: 9 “Sex appeal…lost a little bit of sharpness…bit of a tangle in the arm pass”

Total Score: 34

A tad too high personally.

Now for a sexy? Rumba from Ann Widdecombe & Anton Du Beke

Ann has aspirations to win, and we have a Titanic theme for this sinking ship of a routine.

At least they’re making more of a routine of it this week, I’m seeing Aida’s (well from Anton anyway), underarm turns, a rope spin, hand to hands, cucaracha’s, open outs.

All in all there’s a lot there that our students would recognise (which isn’t always the case in Strictly routines).

Better than last week so I’m going to give it a 6.

Craig: 1 “[Ann – here comes the iceberg] Frigid, passionless, that iceberg [on the set] showed more emotion”
Len: 5 “I’m shaken, not stirred. You did aida, opening outs – admittedly off time and you had the wrong footwork…but daftest dance I’ve ever seen”
Alisha: 5 “Kate Winslet eat your heart out…favourite storyline of the series so far…wasn’t much content, well done on remembering the steps.”
Bruno:  3 “Sinks the Rumba into the deepest and darkest depths of dance disaster.”

Total Score: 14

Patsy Kensit & Robin Windsor

Why do they always make Patsy’s eyes up like that, it always makes her look a little depressed, she actually looks amazing without it!

Patsy is suffering from a foot injury and may be spending most of the routine sitting down, won’t go down well with the judges if she does.

Argentine Tango should be passionate and intense and there’s a slight lack of emotion here, though the routine is good and looks like Patsy’s best dance.

I’m going to give Patsy an 8.

Craig: 7 “It did lacked flair…lacked any swivel on the foot passes…did have intent and purpose…did that very well”
Len: 8 “Hopefully you’ll be back next week…you won’t win Strictly Come Dancing being careful”
Alisha: 8 “I think you held the intensity all the way through…legs look stunning…loved it”
Bruno: 7 “The good thing, you really started to focus…lacked spunk…maybe you were trying to get the technique right”

Total Score: 30

Scott Maslen & Natalie Lowe

Scott’s turn at the American Smooth this week and it looks in the VT like all the training is starting to take it’s toll.

A big slip from Scott there on a three step but well recovered.  His frame looks a little close and could do with a bit more space.

Scott appears to have forgotten the routine and the final lift is just positively dangerous in those circumstances.

It’s a real shame as it looked to have great promise but I can only give it a 7 and that’s being generous.

Craig: 6 “Terrible shame…began with terrible footwork in the corner…some good, loved the lift…complete disaster”
Len: 7 “It wasn’t a complete disaster…didn’t do yourself justice…threw you off…you’re a really good dancer…don’t let it affect you…try and stay awake!”
Alisha: 9 “I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve made mistakes…I still enjoyed it…still looked like a pro out there”
Bruno: 9 “You’re still smoother than anybody else…some parts were excellent…don’t beat yourself down”

Total Score: 31

Far too high from Alisha and Bruno there, it’s not really fair on the other competitors if you ask me.

Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas 

Gavin & Katya have a Jive this week, for a big guy like Gavin this could be [cue Craig] a Dance Dis-a-ster.

If Gavin goes out hating the dance this will come across in his performance.  Not sure on the outfit and unfortunately Gavin is out of time straight from the off with his initial kicks.

This is one of the worst Jive’s we’ve seen on Strictly at this stage of the competition and his attempt at butt wiggling in front of the judges is severely lacking.

It was a disaster and a 6 from me.

Craig: 3 “That bottom wiggle was completely unnecessary…giving Ann Widdecombe a run for her money”
Len: 6 “You hated it, I hated it, we all hated it…you came out and gave it a go”
Alisha: 7 “There was [were] timing issues throughout”
Bruno: 6 “It was like Clarke Kent never turning into Superman…you look good in tight pants”

Total Score: 22

Matt Baker & Aliona Vilani

Let’s hope Matt does a better American Smooth than Scott’s.  Is this the first time an American Smooth has been danced not in a suit?

The standing spin looks a bit awful if I ‘m honest which is a shame.  It feels more like a show dance than an American Smooth and it just didn’t quite feel right for me.

It was ok but I’m only going to give it a 7.

Len: 8 “If you have to explain what you’re trying to do then it hasn’t really worked as a dance”
Alisha: 8 “One of the strongest in the competition…little bit disappointed…turns felt very manic”
Bruno: 9 “You put so much in to what you do…beautiful…turn into American Psycho”

Total Score: 33

Another over mark for me personally.

Pamela Stephenson & James Jordan

They have a Charleston this week and this could potentially be their best dance.

Good lifts and energy, though she does seem to lose a bit of puff near the end.

Has some nice comedic moments though I’m not sure about the final ending position.

Not the worst Charleston I’ve seen but still lacking and Pamela could be in trouble this week.

Emma thinks 8 and I agree.

Craig: 9 “Frisky, perilous lifts…without fear…loved it”
Len: 9 “Tickled my fancy that, you enjoyed doing it, I enjoyed watching it”
Alisha: 10 “Best dance of the night”
Bruno: 10 “It’s going to get a BAFTA from me”

Total Score: 38

Wouldn’t personally have put it as the top routine of the night, for me that was Patsy’s, though I felt all the dances this week seemed lacking in a bit of life.

Leader Board

1. 38 points – Pamela & James
2. 34 points – Kara & Artem
3. 33 points – Matt & Aliona
4. 31 points – Scott & Natalie
5. 30 points – Patsy & Robin
6. 22 points – Gavin & Katya
7. 14 points – Ann & Anton

I already know Patsy goes, and that’s a real shame as I felt she did her best dance of the series tonight.  Earlier I thought Pamela would join her in the bottom two but judges marks may have saved her there so probably Gavin joining her.


Bottom two is Patsy & Robin (who we know are going home) and Gavin & Katya.

Well now to get myself ready for live blogging tonight’s show.

Strictly Come Dancing – Saturday 20th November

Ok so it’s a little bit late, but we’ve been working out in St Lucia so I’m sure you’ll forgive us a small delay!

I have a confession though, I already know who went home on both of the two weeks that I missed (pretty difficult to avoid the whole internet and all our students in a 3 week period!), however I will endeavour to comment accurately and without prejudice.

First up on the show tonight is Patsy Kensit & Robin Windsor

Those in the know will realise that I link my images straight into the BBC mini-site so it’s lucky I know who went last week otherwise this would’ve been a massive clue (the greyed out image!)

Patsy has Samba tonight and I’ve always been concerned about her energy so not expecting much tonight.  It’s not a bad start though her legs are a little messy looking.  As Emma points out though, she does have good hand shaping.

The second half of the routine goes a little astray at times and her hips could feature more but overall not a bad start to the show.

One of her better dances but I’m only going to give it a 7.

Craig: 6 “Besides the obvious wrong footwork, did lack hip action…could be a little bit free-er”
Len: 7 “Lot of nice basic steps…got on the wrong foot somehow…trying to [forget it]”
Alisha: 8 “Stunning, like a real showgirl…captured the feel of the Samba”
Bruno: 7 “Glitzy and sexy…because of the impetus you missed some steps…willing to give it all”

Total Score: 28

Kara Tointon & Artem Chigvintsev

Kara & Artem have American Smooth this week, and a serious injury in training could have prevented them from performing tonight, however Artem performs anyway as that’s what us professionals have to do!

It seems they’re doing a Tango/Paso American Smooth…and the offending lift goes by without a hitch…and it’s actually a Foxtrot now it’s kicked in.

Not really seeing anything in hold though, I’m pretty sure 30%-40% is supposed to be in hold.  It’s an excellent routine but I only saw one section in hold.

Will they be penalised for that, who knows, for me it’s excellent but have to penalise for the rule breaking, but still a 9!

Craig: 9 “I can only agree…gorgeous lines…arm placement is absolutely beyond…Fab-u-lous darling”
Len: 6 “I don’t want to be the party pooper…confused as a baby in a topless bar…you didn’t take up hold once…I loved the routine, fabulous routine…[but] it wasn’t a Foxtrot so how can I judge it as a Foxtrot”
Alisha: 10 “Seductive, smooth, intense…mystical feel…so brave to come out and do [the lift]”
Bruno: 10 “Truly inspired and inspiring American Smooth…fluid…dramatic…star turn”

Total Score: 35

I think 6 was harsh Len

Matt Baker & Aliona Vilani

They have Samba tonight and I’m not sure about the hips in the VT.

Great song, hips are quite good at the start, though hands are a little strange.  Some nice lines and there’s a nice amount of bounce, not too much.

Finishes with a few backflips, which Len is not going to like I imagine.

Really nothing for me to criticise on so I think we could be seeing their first 10!

Craig: 9 “Thought your hip action was very good, thought your bounce action was very good”
Len: 9 “I’m almost in agreement with Craig…wasn’t too keen on those flip-flops at the end…because you can do something doesn’t mean you can put it in the routine…I had a boy that could fart God Save The Queen!”
Alisha: 10
Bruno: 10 “I’ve never seen a competitor (who wasn’t a professional)…moving his bum in that way”

Total Score: 38

I wonder if he hadn’t done those backflips whether Len would’ve given a 10…?

Felicity Kendal & Vincent Simone

I think American Smooth could definitely be nearer Felicity’s abilities than Samba would have been.  They start with a very Hollywood scene and then their Foxtrot starts.

I’m afraid to say it’s a very pedestrian and boring start and doesn’t pick up until their first lift.

Except for the lifts the only time the routine picks up is when Felicity starts kicking her legs up in time to the music.  For me the rest of the routine was completely uninspired.

I really can’t give this a high mark and I think it’s a 6 from me.

Craig: 7 “I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more rise and fall throughout the routine”
Len: 7 “Lifts were excellent…lacked movement”
Alisha: 8 “I like the lifts…I think that was your best dance”
Bruno: 8

Total Score: 30

Personally a little high if you ask me.

Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas

Quite a scary lift they have planned for this American Smooth.  A bit of Tom Jones which doesn’t quite scream “Foxtrot” if you ask me.

The lift goes by almost without a hitch, Katya looks positively petrified and very obviously tries to steady herself.

Gavin looks uncomfortable out of hold at times, especially spinning from side-to-side, but actually it’s a commendable performance, and infinitely better than Felicity Kendal’s.

Improving all the time, and starting to show some personality, but just a 7 this time.

Craig: 4 “Lame and lacklustre”
Len: 7 “What Craig’s just said is totally incorrect…parts of that were excellent dancing…overall a very good performance”
Alisha: 8 “Don’t let this knock your confidence…brave to do those lifts…moving in the right direction”
Bruno: 8 “Why do you get nervous…some of the sequences…were very very good”

Total Score: 27

Scott Maslen & Natalie Lowe

Ok not a bad start, though far too bouncy for my liking and the hips look a little wooden at times and there’s a slight slip in the shadow voltas.

Not a bad Samba, though not as good as Matt’s. 

I’m going to give it an 8 I think.

Craig: 6 “You tried hard, without success”
Alisha: 9 “You really gave it a good go Scott…right up there with the rest of them.”
Bruno: 9 “You always perform, you always deliver”

Total Score: 32

Pamela Stephenson & James Jordan

Another scary looking lift in this one it seems.

Pamela’s facial expression is a bit disturbing at the start, but they look good once they start, though they’ve changed the lift for an easier (and less likely to hospitalise Pamela) one.  Shoulders look a little uncomfortable at times.

A nice fish lift too.  A slight stumble by James as he goes in for the final lift but they manage it without incident.

A good dance, not quite perfect but definitely worth a 9.

Craig: 8 “Very well structured routine…do need to keep the shoulders down”
Len: 9 “Best American Smooth of the night”
Alisha: 10 “Queen of Blackpool tonight.”
Bruno: 10 “Come up and see me some time…American Frisky…fantastically danced”

Total Score: 37

Finally we’ve got Ann Widdecombe & Anton Du Beke with their [attempt at] Samba…

Aside from Ann looking like a big yellow canary I actually think Anton’s outfit is worse.

There’s definitely an attempt at basic there but most of the routine (unsurprisingly) consists of Ann walking around.

Anton then chucks Ann, spins her around on the floor, spins her just off the ground, then drops her with Ann’s bum to camera which she hastily drops her dress back down to cover.

Not as entertaining as some of her previous dances for me, just a 5.

Craig: 1 “Overwhelmingly awful”
Len: 5 “It’s like hemorrhoids, keep coming back more painful than ever…did make me laugh”
Alisha: 4 “As bright as your outfits”
Bruno: 3 “Like a canary that was trying to take flight…never took off”

Total Score: 13

Leader Board

1. 38 points – Matt & Aliona
2. 37 points – Pamela & James
3. 35 points – Kara & Artem
4. 32 points – Scott & Natalie
5. 30 points – Felicity & Vincent
6. 28 points – Patsy & Robin
7. 27 points – Gavin & Katya
8. 13 points – Ann & Anton

Even though I know Felicity went home this week I would still have predicted her to go home, with Patsy joining her in the bottom two.


So the bottom two went as I predicted, and Felicity went home as I already knew…now to watch the following week’s before tonight’s show.

Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas – Cha Cha Cha

First time I’ve ever seen a Cha Cha Cha with a rugby ball prop.  Needs to keep his legs a little closer together in his forward and back rocks as it’s just hampering his hip action a bit.  It’s a strange combination of Rumba and Cha Cha but it’s good to see Gavin smiling.

Showing improvement in areas but still a lot of work required. 7.

Craig: 5 “A little bit flat-footed but I can see you’re trying to get onto the balls of your feet…knee spin was very very good”
Len: 8 “Tonight you were slick…dancer is emerging”
Alisha: 8 “Never seen you so happy, bring the rugby ball every week…outdanced Scott tonight.”
Bruno: 8 “Alisha was panting…getting better every week”

Total Score: 29 (highest score to date)

Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas – Paso Doble

I’m liking some of the shapes in training…

As I expected Gavin has gone topless this week, needs to guarantee himself some votes.  He can’t stop himself smiling, but at least that’s better than his unemotional face

Actually his best dance I think and I’m going to give him a 7.

Craig: 5 “Turns need finessing…still have musicality problems…whole thing a lot of posturing…finally a hint of personality”
Len: 7 “Working your assets…knee walks very tricky to do…lovely point to your foot…lacked a bit of passion”
Alisha: 7 “I disagree with Len, very passionate…sexy…nice attempt”
Bruno: 7 “I love when you’re coming out of your shell…really beautiful lines…believe more in yourself”

Total Score: 26

It Takes Two – Tuesday 26th October

On today’s show: Michelle, Ian & Brendan; Karen Hardy Choreography Corner; Pamela & James; Gavin & Katya.

So first up are Michelle & Ian, fresh from their bottom two finish on Saturday night, joined by Brendan Cole back from his father’s funeral.  Brendan reveals that he felt a little jealous watching Michelle dancing with Ian on Saturday night.

Ian felt nervous about the responsibility of making sure that Michelle made it through to the next week so that she could go back to dancing with Brendan.

Michelle has the Jive this weekend, I’m guessing it’s going to be a disaster and this could be the week Michelle goes, but I will have to wait to see the training videos to be sure.

I’m afraid I always skip past the “Out of the Glitterball” section so I can’t tell you much about that.

Now onto Karen Hardy’s Choreography Corner,

Karen reveals she likes the added extras and props, so long as it’s not overboard and doesn’t last too long. 

First for analysis is Felicity & Vincent: Looking at their floor spin with Felicity balanced on one leg.  Karen applauds the trust between them and also Felicity’s flexibility.

Jimi & Flavia: Claudia felt they were undermarked.  Karen doesn’t agree with Bruno that Jimi was out of time with his cane work and actually felt he was “masterful”.

Matt & Aliona: a “brilliant” double cartwheel though Tina & Jared performed the same move slightly lighter.

Scott & Natalie: great “light and shade” in their dance, really using the music to express the dance.

Gavin & Katya: Gavin’s strength in his legs allowed them to do a throwaway oversway all the way down to the ground, when they could’ve done a much easier movement.

Ann & Anton: Whilst everyone wants to talk about the “flying hippo” Karen concentrates on the outside swivels and her basics and body contact, something Ann is improving at.

Patsy & Robin: “Great Charleston, classic”.  She doesn’t need any gimmicks or gizmos.

Pamela & James

Pamela reveals she wasn’t worried about the score itself, but rather James’ reaction to it.  James wasn’t disappointed by the scores as apparently in training they’d only managed to get through it once out of three attempts.

Also it appears that this was the first Tango that James has performed on Strictly.  This weekend they will be dancing the Jive and I look forward to seeing their training.

Gavin & Katya,

Gavin is a bit of a mixed bag for me, some weeks he seems to be really developing and then one thing, like the slip at the start on Saturday, throws him back into himself.

It looks like Gavin will be the first person this series to visit an acting coach and let’s hope this increases his confidence.

Personally I don’t tend to touch my hair after I first do it in the morning so I can’t quite understand the fascination, though I must admit his hair is looking quite good today!

They have Paso Doble this weekend, which requires even more acting than the Tango so if Gavin doesn’t start coming out of his shell this could be another poor performing week.

I’ll update tomorrow with some of the training videos, and I might actually be able to do that one live this week!

Strictly Come Dancing – Saturday 23rd October Leaderboard

12 dances down let’s have a look at the leaderboard:

1. 35 points – Scott & Natalie
1. 35 points – Matt & Aliona
3. 34 points – Pamela & James
4. 32 points – Kara & Artem
5. 29 points – Tina & Jared
5. 29 points – Felicity & Vincent
7. 28 points – Patsy & Robin
8. 27 points – Jimi & Flavia
8. 27 points – Michelle & Ian
10. 23 points – Gavin & Katya
11. 21 points – Ann & Anton
12. 17 points – Peter & Erin

For me I think Gavin & Katya and Peter & Erin are going to be in trouble this week…I still think Gavin has more to give so Peter should probably go home.

Gavin Henson & Katya Virshilas – Tango

Time to see some emotion this week I hope Gavin.  Shame to start with the slip on the stairs – I swear his cheeks look red after that.

Lifting his feet up too much and a complete lack of emotion on his face and the same lifting action when they repeat the same section.

Gavin has ambitions of being top of the leaderboard and unfortunately he’s nowhere near yet.  Only a 6 from me.

Craig: 5 “Facial expressions…when are we ever going to lose the botox advertisements…some sign of aggression…fell down the steps at the start”
Len: 6 “Great body contact…I don’t know whether it’s nerves…you’ve got to portray that character…wasn’t your best”
Alisha: 6 “Not bad Gavin…looked vulnerable…got to believe in yourself”
Bruno: 6 “We actually like you…there are some moments when everything comes together…then it all crumbles”

Total Score: 23