From the highs to the lows: An extraordinary high for Danny and Oti, as their samba becomes the only one in Strictly history to score a perfect 40. But a low for Ed fans as we finally say goodbye to him and the brilliant Katya.
They were joined in the dance off by the Judge and Oksana, who unfortunately drew the death dance for a male celeb, the rumba. Much as the audience has grown to love them, the technique from both couldn’t match the showmanship of the others. With Ed making an uncharacteristic error and the Judge improving, it was the former (soon to be again?) politician, as expected, who exited the show. There was still a fun moment in his dance though, as he presented his rose to Darcey instead of Craig!
The Judge and Oksana delivered a sweet rumba, but rumbas rarely resonate with the audience, especially when up against showstoppers like Danny and Oti’s exhilarating samba. Embracing the chanting, tribal nature of Sergio Mendes’ Magalenha, it was, as Bruno put it “like a pagan mating ritual” with plenty of rhythmic samba steps and non stop undulating body action. Awesome.
Ore and Jo had to follow that with their Paso and while I wasn’t taken with the song - I’d have liked it to build up faster to a crescendo - it was beautifully danced, full of shaping and artistry. Louise and Kevin’s waltz was gorgeous. Stirring choreography, fluidity - over to Bruno again, who said her musical phrasing was impeccable. And a return to form for Claudia, with her and AJ both attempting the Argentine Tango for the first time. An opportunity to go to town with lifts and they certainly did, but they flowed within the nature of the dance. I could say that the A line was missing, but it was still a wow number and I’m not going to nitpick.
Going into the Cha Cha Challenge I didn’t expect much to change on the leaderboard which stood: Danny 40; Louise 39; Ore & Claudia 36; Judge 29; Ed 23.
And sure enough, apart from a swap at the top, with Louise judged the winner and Danny second, the rest were as they were. I called it for Louise too, as her timing and leg action just seemed a lot cleaner to me and I couldn’t see any mistakes, even watching it again. The leaderboard didn’t change except that the tie was now at the top with Danny and Louise, with Ore in third and Claudia fourth.
Having wowed us with their samba, quickstep, jive and that salsa (which is now embedded in the hallowed annals of Strictly), Ed and Katya’s tango didn’t have quite the same impact - it’s the first time in weeks that my mum hasn’t voted for them. The commitment was there, but on the night, four outstanding performances from the top couples on the leaderboard pretty much put paid to any shock bottom two.
One of the most delightful contestants we’ve ever had, Ed’s commitment, enthusiasm and willingness to not just learn but throw himself into it wholeheartedly will see him remembered by most fans for the sheer joy he brought to the dancefloor. The chemistry with Katya coupled with her genius choreography was fabulous to watch; l hope we see her back again next year.
To all the purists who celebrated Ed’s exit last night, his tenure was nothing like Brexit, Trump or Honey G - I question your commitment as Strictly fans, because he was the embodiment of what Strictly is all about. Dancing should evoke a positive emotion, and overwhelmingly, watching Ed dance made the audience happy - that’s why he was kept in for ten glorious weeks.
Next week: Musicals!
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