Ballroom & Latin

Strictly review: Week 1

Strictly Come Dancing returned to our screens last weekend with a double feature on Friday and Saturday night. Each week our Ballroom and Latin American dance tutors will discuss highlights of the show and provide their insight on a particular dance. This week tutor Nick Breakspear dissects the first two episodes.

The first week of Strictly Come Dancing included, as usual, the slow, English waltz.  Probably this is because it's the style that viewers most associate with "proper" dancing.  It's also the style that absolute beginners and wedding couples most expect to learn. It's unfortunate, then, that the waltz is also the most demanding ballroom style from beginner level upwards. It's slow, requires the largest amount of turn (apart from the Viennese waltz), and the most rise and fall of the ballroom styles. All this combined with the start-stop nature of the dance makes balance, smoothness of progression, and power a challenge.

Waltz figures are either progressive (and move the couple around the room) or non-progressive (and create a "picture"). In Strictly, with less able celebrity dancers or in the early rounds when the dancers are less experienced the choreography teams tend to reduce the amounts of turn and eliminate the start-stop challenge of the progressive figures by allowing what would otherwise be a closing foot to pass the other and end feet apart, often in promenade position. Picture figures are included periodically to allow the celebrity dancers to regain their place in the routine should anything go wrong.

Lesley Joseph's waltz to What'll I Do was a gem. Good music always helps (try the version by Linda Ronstadt) and the choreography, although a bit limited and repetitive, was rich in movement drawn from basic figures of the sort that learners dance at Morley.  Although Ms Joseph looked better in rehearsal her timing was good, she covered the floor well, her feet were expressive, and her footwork was sound. She might work on keeping both feet on the floor all the time and keeping her shoulders down, nevertheless this old bird of a feather should fly into the next round.

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